Sex After Baby
The 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.
Published July 28, 2009. Last updated April 23, 2017.