So, you’ve had a baby, you’re part way through the challenging fourth trimester and the last thing that’s on your mind is any kind of intimacy with your partner. If you feel like your lack of desire at this point is anything to beat yourself up about, please don’t. There are two questions to consider here – one is ‘When can I have sex after childbirth? the other more important question is ‘When will I feel like having sex after childbirth?’
From a medical point of view, most professionals agree that it’s SAFE to have (protected) penetrative sex four to six weeks after birth, particularly if the birth has been a relatively smooth process. But of course, it’s not just about the physical. For sex to even feature on the post baby agenda, you need to be mentally as well as emotionally ready too. And unfortunately, the odds are very often stacked against us.
There are just so many reasons not to feel like a sex Goddess after childbirth for weeks, or even month. And these are just a few of the most common:
- Pain – you may be recovering from tears and stitches; piles and goodness only knows what else. The idea of getting anywhere near that part of your body will probably fill you with horror.
- Severe exhaustion from lack of sleep, being constantly (and often rudely) awakened by a crying baby at every hour of the day and night is a definite passion killer.
- Breastfeeding, your body will also be releasing oxytocin, a hormone that is fantastic for helping you bond with your baby but will at the same time, will suppress your libido. Anthropologically, this is a way of preventing another pregnancy too soon after the last one.
- Vaginal dryness –low levels of oestrogen will put your body into temporary menopause which causes vaginal dryness (and sometimes even night sweats and hot flushes) which doesn’t help.
- Changes to your body – The perception of your own body may have changed and you may find it difficult to deal with these changes.
- The Baby Blues – most parents are affected by this to some extent, some more than others.
- Your partner’s not up for it. Remember that partners can be equally traumatised by birth and may not feel ready for sex, even if you do.
But at some stage, the time will come along, whether it be three months or a year later, that you are start to emerge from the birth fog, the baby is starting to sleep for longer and longer stretches, and you may, just may start to feel a glimmer of desire. Hallelujah! Because let’s face it, we all feel better after sex.
How, where and when to have sex with a baby in tow
And then the next obstacle pops up – how to satisfy that desire when you have a baby in tow. The big question is If you co-sleep with our baby, is it OK to do it in the same room?
Again, no set answers here and most parents will use their own judgement. However, the general consensus seems to be that if the baby is under six months old, and in a deep slumber (every parent knows how to spot this type of deep sleep when wild horses won’t wake them) it’s fine to go ahead if and when the urge takes you. But make sure to move baby into a safe position, away from the main action. A crib or cot next to the bed should help with this. Or better still, rather than risk waking the baby, you and your partner could lay out some pillows and move yourselves. And there’s a lot to be said for the raw and primal nature of floor sex.
As children get older and start to understand and interact with the world around them, sex in their presence becomes less appropriate. Young children won’t understand the concept of sex, so hearing unfamiliar noises and seeing sexual you in the throes of passion may frighten them and they may even think you are hurting each other. Whatever the case, even if you are in a separate room, door closed and making the least amount of noise possible, as a parent you will need to learn to accept interruption and sometimes at the height of pleasure. So make sure you have a joint strategy for dealing with this in advance, to minimise potentially damaging impact.
The upside of sex with a baby in the house is that you have a great excuse to be creative with timing. If baby takes a regular afternoon nap, this is a great opportunity for you and your partner to indulge in a bit of afternoon delight. You’ll probably be less exhausted at this time of day, and much more up for it. But however and whenever the mood takes you, do remember to use contraception, even if breastfeeding, as you can still get pregnant again – even three weeks after giving birth!
Will sex after childbirth ever be the same again?
And finally, the good news. Yes, there is something to be said for having a baby when it comes to your sex life.
According to a poll conducted in the States by a social networking app for parents, Peanut, out of 1,000 women questioned about their sex lives before and after childbirth, 61% reported higher levels of sexual desire than ever – i.e that they wanted to have more sex post pregnancy than before. And that’s news I think we’ll all welcome. .