Bringing a new life into the world is a remarkable journey, but the truth is, pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum recovery can significantly impact your sex life. The physical and emotional changes that accompany having a baby can make it difficult to maintain intimacy with your partner. However, it is essential to remember that this is a common occurrence. Many couples go through the same challenges, and there are ways to navigate intimacy after having a baby. Here are some that we tried:
Acknowledge the Challenges
Becoming a new parent is an exciting but demanding journey. Between taking care of your newborn, adjusting to your new routine, and recovering from childbirth, it's no surprise that you may feel overwhelmed, stressed, and exhausted. These challenges can make it difficult to prioritize intimacy with your partner. It's common to fall into a pattern of not making time for each other when you're already stretched thin. However, it's essential to recognize that this is a common issue that many new parents face, and important not to overthink it as there are ways to work through it. It's crucial to make time for each other and prioritize your intimacy to maintain a healthy and happy relationship with your partner.
Talk to Your Partner
Having an open and honest conversation with your partner is crucial. It's important to express how you're feeling and to listen to your partner's thoughts and concerns as well. They may be feeling the same way and will appreciate your honesty. Hormonal changes can also have an impact on their libido, and they may not be feeling the same level of desire as they did before. Your partner may also be feeling stressed and overworked, which can impact their desire for intimacy. It's important to recognize that these changes are normal and temporary and that with time and communication, you can fix them! By talking to your partner and exploring different ways to be intimate, you can navigate the challenges of postpartum intimacy together. Remember to be patient with yourself and your partner, and to prioritize communication and connection in your relationship.
Consider the Physical Elements
During pregnancy and childbirth, your body undergoes significant physical changes that can affect your sexual health. These changes can leave lasting effects on your body, such as internal or external stitches, tearing, or a cesarean section. These physical changes can create fear or a lack of desire to explore intimacy again with your partner. Your partner may have the exact same fears around physical healing and the fear of hurting you. If you're experiencing physical discomfort or pain, it's essential to discuss these concerns with your healthcare provider and pelvic health physio. Your healthcare provider can perform a physical exam to determine if there are any issues preventing you from becoming intimate again.
It's important to remember that it may take some time for your body to heal and recover fully. Therefore, it's essential to take things slowly and at your own pace. You may need to experiment with different positions or techniques to find what feels comfortable and enjoyable for you and your partner.
It's also important to remember that intimacy doesn't just mean sex. There are many ways to be intimate with your partner that doesn't involve sex, such as cuddling, holding hands, and expressing appreciation for each other. Being physically intimate with your partner can help strengthen your emotional connection and improve your overall relationship.
Reintroduce Intimacy Slowly
It's essential to take it slow and reintroduce intimacy gradually. Start with simple acts of affection like holding hands, hugging, or cuddling. I call this 'Touching with Intention' - meaning that when you pass the baby over to your partner, for example, you take a moment to place your hand on their shoulder and look at them with love and appreciation. You don't need to say anything, but the touch is intentional, conveying your feelings. It could be as simple as putting your arms around them while they do the dishes and holding them close. These small gestures show love in a different way and help maintain intimacy.
Consider hiring a babysitter for a couple of hours to take a break and spend some quality time with your partner. Even a short break can help you recharge and strengthen your relationship. I call this 'taking a mini-vacation to reconnect and rekindle your love life. It's important to understand that there's no set timeline for when it's okay to start having sex again after childbirth. Your healthcare provider may advise waiting until your six-week postpartum check-up to ensure your body has healed completely. However, this doesn't mean you have to put a hold on intimacy altogether, or that at the 6-week mark, you 'have to' start sex again! Take time to explore your own body and understand what feels comfortable and what doesn't. You can also try using lubrication or a water-based vaginal moisturizer to reduce any discomfort during sex.
During childbirth, the pelvic floor muscles that support the bladder, uterus, and rectum can become weakened or damaged, leading to problems with bladder and bowel control, as well as sexual function. This can make sex uncomfortable or painful, and it can affect your confidence in your ability to be intimate. Fortunately, there are exercises you can do to help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles and rebuild confidence. However, doing them too early or incorrectly can actually worsen pelvic floor problems. This is where it's crucial to get a full check by a pelvic health physio, they can guide you on how to perform these exercises correctly.
There are many exercises that can help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, such as squats, lunges, and many Pilates moves. You can explore my post-natal workouts safe for rebuilding your full-body strength after having a baby in our on-demand video subscription.
By taking the time to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, you can regain your confidence and feel more comfortable being intimate with your partner after childbirth. It's important to remember that rebuilding intimacy after having a baby is a journey that requires patience and communication, but it's a journey that can bring you and your partner closer together in the end. It's important to acknowledge the challenges, talk openly with your partner, address any physical concerns and take things slowly. Seeking help from healthcare providers, therapists, or support groups is also beneficial. By being open-minded, patient, and willing to try new things, you and your partner can rediscover intimacy and build a stronger, more fulfilling relationship.