Will I ever want to be intimate again? I’m so tired. Will sex after birth hurt? Will I physically feel the same, again?
Girl, do you remember how tired you were at the beginning of your pregnancy, as your body was getting used to the rapid changes that were happening, as your cells divided and grew and multiplied? Well the same thing is happening now, only kind of in reverse. There’s a good reason that when you leave the hospital, they tell you not to stick anything- including your or your partner’s anatomy- in your vagina; your body, and your mind, are healing and its going to take a bit of time.
“Everything looks different, I just don’t FEEL sexy.”
The hard reality is that even if you are able to safely drop all of your baby weight (which undoubtedly takes longer than 6 weeks), you may never wear the same size clothes because your body shape may have changed. It can be hard getting used to a “new” you, even if this “new” is only for now. But cut yourself some slack, ladies, and love your bodies; your partners already do! The dozens of partners I’ve spoken with on this topic all say the same thing: there is something powerful and attractive in watching their woman give birth to and care for the babies they made together. Confidence is sexy, so find something about your new body that you love. And if you can’t, ask your honey to show you what they like about your body. I bet they’d be willing to spend a LONG TIME showing you.
Things feel different “down there”.
If you feel like it’s a bit stretched out and beat up down below, it probably is.If you took a mirror and looked (and some people do) it will look a lot different too. That’s pretty normal considering a baby’s head and shoulders recently passed through there. It’s BOUND to be a little more stretched out and carry a few skid-marks. A few Kegel exercises and a little bit of time can help with that, it should return to pre-baby condition in short order. If the problem is persistent dryness or itchiness, be sure to mention those things at your six-week checkup with your care provider. It is often just a sign that your body’s hormones haven’t regulated themselves yet, and they can often recommend solutions until your body sorts itself out. It can also be a side effect of full-time breastfeeding, because breastfeeding causes reduced estrogen levels in the body, which is sadly one of the hormones that your glands need to produce lubrication down below. If you think that's the case that things don't feel right, the good news is that, there are LOTS of great lubrications you can use to help make things more comfortable! The point is that no matter what, it shouldn't be that way forever!
“I’m afraid it will hurt? Will sex after childbirth hurt?”
Tenderness is normal for a while, but pain is not. Using lubrication can help, since birth can really do a number on the glands that help “glide things along”. Blood flow to those tissues brings oxygen which can help stretch out areas that might be tender, so spending some time at “second base” to get your blood pumping before the big deed can help as well. Long-term pain post-baby isn’t “just the way it is”. If the pain persists, that can be a sign of scar tissue or infection. If you are experiencing those things, seeing your midwife or OB or a pelvic floor phisiotherapist can help relieve your concerns and your pain.
“My milk lets down just as things are getting hot and heavy. Ew.”
It’s a crazy body trick that the same hormones that help your milk let-down for your baby are the ones that show up just when things get serious with your honey. Your ladies can’t tell the difference, so sometimes they will start to leak just as you are getting warmed up. If this makes you uncomfortable, then I say wear a bra with some nursing pads, even when intimate, until your milk situation becomes a bit more predicable. If you’re both in the mood, no one is going to care.
“I’m just too tired. I don’t ANYONE to touch me.”
You’re not sleeping. Your breasts are leaking, and may be sore from nursing your baby most of the day. You may feel frumpy and most definitely haven’t worn a shirt that doesn’t have spit up on it in at least a month. You simply don’t WANT to be intimate because it feels like another physical demand at the end of a demanding day. In fact, you’re kind of dreading the “go ahead” from your OB, because you know your partner knows its typically “go time”, but you’re just not feeling it. Its kind of no wonder you are “touched out”.
These things aren’t in your head, they are REAL. What is also real is the love your partner has for you, so please make sure if you are feeling this way, you have an honest conversation with them before “the big night”. I don’t mean you should “power through”, but intimacy almost never starts in the bedroom. Figure out ways the two of you can share intimate moments without the actual sex. Reassure your partner that you WANT to want to, but its hard because of everything you are going through. Tell them what would help you get into the mood. We all have things that will help us feel cared for, which can go a long way to setting the stage for amazing sex, so figure out what yours are, and share them. Maybe its lots of canoodling. Maybe its them snuggling the baby during that hour in the afternoon/evening when the baby is at her loudest so you can take a shower. At my house it was (and kinda still is) not having to do the laundry. Its going to take a strong partner who will not push you into it, and some work on your part to really work through these feelings, but one day (and not as far away as you think), those feelings will come back.
It's important for you to know that you are not alone in these things. These are all common concerns and feelings, this doula hears about them ALL. THE. TIME. So reach out do your postpartum doula for some advice, or a girlfriend you are really comfortable talking with to simply commiserate. There is strength in numbers, as they say.