The Happi Doula isn't one to shy away from any topic having to do with womanhood or motherhood, and this topic is no different. Because, let's face it. The whole reason we are having this conversation in the first place is because of sex.
And I believe it's an important conversation to have, especially if you are a new mom-to-be. It's common that you and your spouse don't know what to expect in the bedroom after baby arrives. Once your doctor or midwife gives you the green light (at about six weeks postpartum), you may have some fears and concerns about what exactly that will be like. So, I encourage you to keep reading.
Sexual intimacy is a very important aspect of the marriage relationship and one that needs tending to. Dad will likely be ready for you to get your pre-pregnancy "mojo" back, and while you're likely to be ready too, it may not be as easy as that. Because, let's face it. Motherhood is hard. Parenting is exhausting. And caring for a newborn is a demanding, 24/7 job, especially in those early weeks.
And then there are these factors:
No time to shower.
Feeling less than sexy. Or interested.
Crying. (I'm not just talking about the baby.)
Did I mention exhaustion?
You may still be sore. Everywhere.
Feeling self-conscious. (Dad, this is where encouraging her and reminding her how beautiful she is to you is really important!)
Furthermore, for many new moms, the nurturing instinct is so strong that all she can focus on in the first months following the birth of baby is caring for his/her needs and survival. And, if your baby is in the bedroom with you and your husband for feedings and diaper changes, then every peep and squeak can kill the mood. Quickly.
This is a challenging time of transition for both of you. The mental and physical exhaustion of caring for a newborn (especially if this is the first baby) can really take a toll on both of you. Dad, you may worry that she won't ever want sex again, and mom, if you had a cesarean, or any tearing or stitches or trauma during the birth of your baby, you may think things will never be the same "down there" again. I can assure you, they will. These things take time. (Also- let me put in a quick plug for doing those Kegel exercises during pregnancy and after delivery. These really help healing, toning and strengthening the pelvic floor!)
So let's talk about what you can expect and how you can help ease the transition to sexual intimacy.
1. I know this may be obvious, but I'll say it anyway. Please make sure you wait long enough to get the go-ahead from your care provider before attempting intercourse. This is really important as you can actually do further "damage" or prolong the healing process.
2. Take time to talk about your needs and feelings beforehand. This goes for both of you. Express your concerns and be sure to really listen to each other. (P.S. Men, remember she needs emotional connection with you just as much as you want physical connection with her. Talking is really important to her.)
3. Do not rush. Take your time and remember it's been a while! If you hurry (QUICK! Before baby wakes up!) you may regret that later and it might end up being a less-than-pleasant experience. If you are nursing or bottle feeding, do the feeding first and then put baby to bed. Change his or her diaper and buy yourself at least a little bit of time!
4. Breastfeeding is not birth control. Just FYI. :)
5. LUBRICATION. Use a good one. No explanation needed. Just trust me on this one.
6. Be present. I know this is difficult, especially for mom. But try to stay in the moment and clear your mind of everything else and enjoy this much needed time with your spouse.
7. If something hurts or is uncomfortable, communicate that. And then get creative. (You were probably already having to do this as your belly grew in pregnancy!). Comfort is key.
8. It may not feel the same as before. That's normal and will improve over time.
9. If it's not great this first time, try again (when you're ready!). It will get better. I promise.
Thanks for reading!
Happi loves serving families in the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago as a labor doula and childbirth educator. When she's not at a birth, she loves spending time her husband and three boys.