Sex after childbirth
The facts of life: short form. You have sex. And that leads to you having a baby. And then you never feel like having sex ever again. Well, perhaps it's not as bleak as that. Or maybe it is. So here's some helpful advice on resuming sex after childbirth.
When to have sex after childbirth: the guidelines
First, give your body time to recover. If you are bristling with stitches and bleeding, it's probably not going to be the right time for you.
Some doctors say actual penetrative vaginal sex should wait until six weeks after a vaginal birth to prevent infections etc.
Unsurprisingly, many women don't feel like sex when they are breastfeeding (which entirely suppresses some women's libidos), are in constant physical contact with a new baby or simply catatonically tired.
A petulant partner is certainly not an aphrodisiac, so it's probably worth explaining why you may not be in the mood for a while. And how a bit of forbearance is more likely to lead to eventual resumption of relations than heavy sighing.
It's worth explaining to a partner who could be feeling rejected that your lack of interest is not a reflection on his studliness. It's just the way a lot of women are with very small children.
Having said all of which, there does seem to be a huge spectrum as to when people do feel like it. There are some women who are covered in lovebites before they are out of the labour ward (get a grip, those women). For others, weeks quickly turn to months.
How to have sex after childbirth.
The truth is, postnatal sex can be a bit awkward and starting over-ish. The essentially ridiculous nature of the act becomes apparent afresh when you haven't done it for a while.
- Explain to your partner if you are feeling trepidatious and unconfident about your postnatal body. Of course, many men are just glad to get some and are not inspecting your stretchmarks, but if you are really fretting, Mumsnetter susyJ suggests: "Try pinning your partner down and smearing Vaseline on his eyeballs; that way you'll appear in flattering soft focus at all times."
- Try to find some time and space to look after yourself, time to do things you want just for yourself and time to get some exercise. Make sure you are eating well. "Happy is a good step on the road to sexy," as Mumsnetter pagwatch wisely opines. Getting an opportunity to dress up and feel good about yourself can help you feel more 'lively'.
- Find a way to get some sleep. If at all possible.
- Have a massage. Or do something else which makes you feel physically well and not like a leaky postnatal bundle of sore.
- And see our tips for reviving your love life generally.
• Sex in a long-term relationship
• Talk: relationships
• Mumsnet Guides to Pregnancy, Babies and Toddlers
Sex and breastfeeding
The extent to which breastfeeding interferes with your doings varies from woman to woman. Some never feel like it at all until they stop and/or their periods resume. Others are OK after breastfeeding settles down.
Others find that breasts need to be kept out of the whole arena for the duration. Mumsnetter Hopefully explains: "Personally I have issues with my breasts multitasking... even if we have sex whilst I'm still breastfeeding, breasts are fairly off-limits, as it feels entirely unsexy having them manhandled when their day job is feeding the baby!"
And then there are those who enjoy the whole engorgement phenomenon and get a kind of 'being Pamela Anderson' thing going in their heads.
As Mumsnetter QueenFee puts it: "I find my breastfeeding breasts incredibly sexy, actually. They look and feel much nicer than when I'm not."
Whichever camp you fall into, you'll find support for your stance on the Relationships Talk board.