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Sex After Baby

By Amalah

bounceback_sajillio.pngThe only memory I have from my six-week postpartum check-up after my first son was born was the moment when my doctor announced me cleared for both sex and exercise, and I briefly wondered how I’d never noticed what a big fat annoying stupid jerk face jerk he was before.

That first time, I clung to that six-week no-sex window for as long as I could. While technically my discharge instructions were simply “nothing in the vagina for six weeks,” I chose to interpret it more as “DO NOT TOUCH ME, AT ALL. DO NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT TOUCHING ME. STOP LOOKING AT ME LIKE THAT.” I was so horrified by the state of my body that I got dressed in my closet just to avoid seeing my naked self in the mirror outside. I wasn’t in pain or impeded by anything physical — I just couldn’t bear the thought of the squishing slapping awkwardness of sex when I didn’t recognize the body I now had. What if my boobs leak? What if my stomach dangles? What if I start bleeding again? There were a few halfhearted attempts at first, and I honestly don’t really remember when things got anywhere back to “normal.” I had to accept that the extra stretched-out skin around my middle wasn’t going away anytime, which was no small thing.

The second time, IF I MAY SUPER OVERSHARE HERE, we barely made it to six weeks. I grudgingly followed the technical instructions but…you know, did other things. I was determined, and much less bothered by the physical fall-out of childbirth.

What killed us, though, was the exhaustion, and simply finding the TIME. Our alone time together wasn’t just cut in half — I felt like two children splintered into fourths. If Ezra was asleep…Noah was awake. Our chances of being interrupted were doubled. Someone always had a cold, or needed a diaper change, or help going potty. My in-laws were like, right there, using the hall bathroom. The baby was like, right there, in our bed. I remember one night coaxing Ezra to sleep in his cradle swing (not technically allowed for sleeping. do not try this at home. insert disclaimer here.), climbing into bed while Jason brushed his teeth…and by the time he was done I was sound asleep. Probably drooling. Sexy!

I don’t really have any tips for making that aspect any easier. Spontaneity helps, as does recognizing the fact that while you may be really, really tired, intimacy with your partner is sometimes more important and worth digging deep for one last reserve of energy. Also: preschooler cartoons on high volume.

And finally! Two people here, in this equation. An understanding, non-pushy partner is critical. He or she may THINK you look just fine, but by simply saying, “Oh, stop it, whatever,” isn’t going to make you feel any better. Your doctor may give you the all-clear but stuff might still just HURT. Tears, episiostomies, hemorrhoids. A c-section leaves your girls parts okay but your stomach muscles might not be up for other physical aspects of sex. It could be weeks, it could be months. And it is entirely your call.

My husband was, hands-down, absolutely perfect, both times. He never pushed (though certainly let me know that he was willing and able ANY time I wanted), he remembered the romance (cooking dinner, random champagne on a Tuesday, flowers, etc.), and he did his best to gently let me know that he still found me desirable (lingerie that…ahem…highlighted my best postpartum boobage feature). He was willing to talk openly about what the labor and birth experiences were like for him — what it was like to see me go through pain and various indignities…and then get sliced open while he sat there and watched. This was a conversation that helped us both a lot, emotionally, for some reason.

There was also the added benefit that I find good dads incredibly sexy, and the sight of him with his arms full of our boys definitely prompted a bit of “okay, put those kids down and KISS ME, YOU FOOL” on my part.

Want to read more on Sex After Baby? Here ya go: How to Get Back in the Saddle Again After Having a Baby.

Amalah
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch

Amalah

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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Anonymous
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Anonymous

I can’t believe I’m the first one to comment. It’s like we’re in school and the teacher, Amy, is standing there silently giving us stink-eye because no one will speak up! Fine. I have a question. The nurses, my friends…they all said “do your kegels.” Which I’m sure is lovely advice, and I know, um, which muscles to target. What I don’t know and am too embarrassed to ask in person is, how many reps and sets per day? How long do you hold and release? Please don’t give me the “do them at every stoplight” advice. The lights on… Read more »

wallydraigle
Guest

Oversharing time! Oh, I love this! I hope no one I know reads this and recognizes me. If you do, please pretend you never read this. Just remembering our first time after the baby was born makes my whole body clench up in terror. I think I am built rather small down there (I do know I have a narrow pelvis, but I don’t know if that means anything for sex) because sex has always been somewhat uncomfortable–even painful, at times–for the first few minutes. This has nothing to do with lubrication. Anyway, I had a c-section, so no stretching… Read more »

Joy @ Mommys Joy
Guest

From my experience it definitely takes time to get back in the saddle. And six weeks is only the first barrier. For me it wasn’t the… ahem…intimate physical aspects, well I had those too, but more the fact that by the end of the day of being touched non-stop by a baby, I really just didn’t want physical contact with another human. It was kinda like sensory overload. My hubby has been the most patient and wonderful man through it all and realized pretty quickly that it wasn’t him it was me and that I just needed some physical space.… Read more »

Rebekah
Guest
Rebekah

What a reassuring column. I kept reading about how pregnancy can heighten a woman’s libido and then pitying my poor husband when all I wanted to do was sleep!! Now we only have five weeks to go – And I finally really want to make love and… have just been diagnosed with an irritable uterus – GAH! I’m relieved to hear that it can all go back to normal, and that it’s worth the effort. And I can definitely my husband buying lingerie to effectively highlight the ‘boob-age’ – As a former A cup (now C and may possibly hit… Read more »

Olivia
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Olivia

Four months postpartum with my first, and my biggest issue with sex is just that I don’t think about it. It rarely crosses my mind, and when it does it’s usually bad timing. I told my husband it would be up to him to make the move and essentially remind me for a while.
Body issues are also there (my boobs did leak during sex!), and the timing thing seems extra difficult since baby shares the bed with us. Forutnately, my husband is super patient.

Cindy
Guest
Cindy

Kegels – I did them with my first so much that my muscles were tired when I was done. I would hold for a count of 10 release repeat 10 or 15 times every hour or two. The first night after giving birth (vaginal) I woke up at 3 am to pee. I stood up and swoosh – yes, I peed all over the floor. Of course, i wasn’t alone in the room – there were 5 of us and one woman was up brushing her teeth after a shower. She handed me some towels and said “you should have… Read more »

Olivia
Guest
Olivia

Joy, I told my husband morning is probably a better time to catch me, too.
wallydraigle, have you spoken to your doc about the discomfort? I have heard of conditions that cause pain/discomfort not necessarily being related to size. There are treatments that can help.

Catherine S
Guest
Catherine S

The PP sex is traumatic for most people I think. It has been almost 11 months since my son was born by CS and the dryness is just now getting better. For a while it was like the freakin desert had taken up residence in my vagina. My doc gave me an estrogen cream called estrase(sp?)that helped with getting some natural lube going instead of constantly having to use astroglide. I WISH my doc had imposed a 6 week limit, but I had my check up at 4 weeks and my husband was chomping at the bit. No more “docs… Read more »

Me
Guest
Me

We did a day before “officially” 6 weeks. He was gentle, and was really glad to have it. I was sensitive, but not in pain. We used tons of lube. Basically I am just frustrated. Don’t get me wrong – I am getting satisfied, but I am frustrated that it is not the same. My breasts leaking during sex, using condoms (yuk) because we are both concern the birth control pills will reduce my supply, and feeling “different”. I knew it wouldn’t feel the same but still, haven’t I gone through enough with the pregnancy? Between gestational diabetes, being swollen,… Read more »

Sara
Guest
Sara

Just want to put this out there… It was uncomfortable after I had my first child. I had a vaginal delivery and tearing. We waited the 6 weeks and eventually it got better…but there was some dryness for awhile. With my second child, we didn’t wait 6 weeks. It felt good, there was no dryness. It was again a vaginal birth with tearing…but for some reason, sex just went so much more smoothly. Perhaps the transition from one to two isn’t as monumental physically or emotionally. Plus, I’ve learned how to take care of myself better which means at the… Read more »

geek.anachronism
Guest

Oh god Me, that could be me as well! I had a bit of pain, but mostly it was weird and awkward. And I haven’t tried again.

Toddler Crafts Julie
Guest

Yes, its quite weird to have it after a baby.I really just didn’t want physical contact with another human. It was kind of like sensory overload.

Jane
Guest

Often I’m too tired from work to have sex with my boyfriend. It sounds like sex with children would be impossible for us. How do you keep things fresh in marriage?

Stef
Guest

Sex after my first baby was no picnic, but it wasn’t bad. My second baby was another story. I had an emergency c-section and a whole mess of complications afterwards, ended up hospitalized for a couple of weeks. My husband was wonderful throughout, brave and supportive when I needed him to be. After that insanity, after feeling utterly out of any control over my body, having sex with my husband again was absolutely essential. It was a matter of feeling human again and reminding us both that I was alive and well. I’m gonna go home and give him the… Read more »

Amelia
Guest
Amelia

We waited 8 weeks and it didn’t stop hurting until 12 weeks post-partum (I had a huge episiotomy during my precipitate labor with a very large boy). The funny thing was, the first time I had an orgasm, my breasts started leaking like old faithful… not just a few drops, but rivulets of milk running down the side and soaking the bed. I guess orgasm can trigger major letdown! I laugh now, but I was certain, at the time, that my husband would find me disgusting. Not so, now he asks for sex more often than I am able to… Read more »

Dawn
Guest
Dawn

After my daughter was born (vaginally), I wanted nothing to do with sex AT ALL. For a very long time. Though for me it wasn’t pain or fear or dryness oh no! It was me getting back at my husband for essentially ignoring me throughout THE ENTIRE PREGNANCY! Some days its amazing to think that we are currently expecting our second in a couple of weeks given the scarcity of the event. To paraphrase Steve Carell in “The 40 Year Old Virgin”, if you don’t use it, you lose it. Or maybe I’m just a bitter shrew. Who knows?

Della
Guest

After I had my son, I was in the mood faster than my body was ready. Luckily we didn’t partake until after the 6-weeks. The place where I had torn/got stitches was still very raw. Additionally, I just was NOT making enough natural lube. For the longest time, I did not want to use artificial lube because I didn’t want to hurt my husband’s feelings (the idea being that apparently I just wasn’t aroused enough and if I would really get into it, I’d make plenty, right? Well, hormones being what they are, no.) Once I finally got over that… Read more »

jonniker
Guest

Hey, so, uh, oversharing times A THOUSAND here, and LATE, to boot!
My boobs leak. Every. Time. I. Have. Sex.
And I’m … twentysomething weeks postpartum. Have a bra ready is what I’m saying.

Cheri
Guest
Cheri

To anonymous ( first poster) My Dr. said to do 100 kegels every day. My 2nd baby was 11 lbs, and apparently everything in there is heading south. I will do more kegels!!!!

Michelle
Guest

I am all about the oversharing and I am also late to the party but here it goes… I’ve had three babies born via c-sections, my first one we barely made it to the two week mark before resuming sex but we also had the baby during our first year of marriage so I just blame it on being newlyweds. With the second baby we held out a little longer…three weeks. My hubs never pressures me into anything so it was definitely a mutual decision (more mine than his). With the third baby who is 7 months I am in… Read more »

Liza
Guest
Liza

We waited about 8 weeks after my son was born. It was partly pain down there, and partly the severe breastfeeding problems- bleeding nipples, thrush, masitis, you name it- I could not bear the thought of anyone else being in the vicinity of my breasts. All I could think during the first few times was, “OMG, I pushed a baby out down there!” It was slightly traumatic, even though I had a wonderful labor and birth and my husband is kind and gentle. It took a good seven months after the birth before sex stopped hurting, which I didn’t expect… Read more »

DeeDee
Guest
DeeDee

First time commenting here, but I was just searching the internet for “vaginal atrophy” and realized Amy had posted something along these lines. So… I’m 4 months PP and seriously my vagina feels like it has dried up and died. I can’t even think about sex, because walking around I get paper cut like abrasions from the dryness. Seriously, I feel like I will never have sex again. I know it’s normal for your body to have symptoms of menopause when you’re breastfeeding (which we are – no formula or solids at all yet), but can I just say how… Read more »

Shylo
Guest
Shylo

DeeDee, I had the papercut feeling, too. My midwife told me to use a hydrocortisone cream externally.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with waiting a long time. My kid is 3 months old and between our ridiculous breastfeeding issues and severe postpartum depression, the sex is just not even something I’m thinking about.

Andrea
Guest

totally hear you on the sucky sex part post baby. things were definitely not the same for me after my forceps delivery! found it hard to get info and for doctors to help – so out of frustration did my own research and website: http://www.afterbabybody.com. Dyspareunia = painful sex is a VERY common complaint after childbirth. According to the stats some moms have even better sex post partum -hate them!!