After nine months of pregnancy and all which that entails (bloating, nausea, weight gain, acne, constipation, etc.), many women cannot wait to embrace their post-pregnancy bodies and get back into the bedroom with their partner. While sex during pregnancy is quite possible, not to mention, enjoyable, many couples count the days until they reconnect again without a baby in between them.
However, as so many new parents soon find, reconnecting after childbirth isn’t as easy as it seems. It is not uncommon for women to experience low libido following childbirth, and sadly, many of these women wrongly assume that they are doing something wrong or that they simply lost their sexual side. Add to that the pressure of a frustrated husband, and you have a recipe for disaster.
If this sounds familiar, don’t worry, you are not alone. And, rest assured, it is possible to restore your relationship and reclaim your sexuality. All it takes is it a little bit of know-how and a lot of communication. Read on:
Rebuilding a healthy genital self-image. After childbirth, many women feel a bit uncomfortable with their genitals. The pain and potential tearing that can occur during labor, coupled with other possible complications such as episiotomies, can leave a woman feeling at odds with her own body. You might worry that sex will be painful (this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy as you clench up, thereby making the vaginal walls tighten and making sex uncomfortable) or you might no longer see your genitals in a sexy light. After childbirth, your genitals can feel downright clinical, and you might wrongly think that your vagina is now a vessel for labor, not sex.
Truthfully, your partner might have some of these fears too. It’s natural and normal, especially if he witnessed your labor firsthand (though beautiful, childbirth can be a bit messy and even somewhat scary, especially for a partner who has no medical background and has never seen something remotely similar.) It won’t be easy to restore those old feelings about your genitals, but once your doctor gives you the green light to have sex again, you can ease into it by embracing your sexy side again. Buy a new pair of panties (there are even lingerie lines for women who are nursing), or treat yourself to a day at the spa to reclaim your previous sexy self.
And don’t try to jump right into intercourse right away. Get familiar with your genitals and your sexual response again by enjoying mutual masturbation with your partner, or have him give you a full-body massage (clothes optional). The idea is to slowly start relearning each other’s bodies and becoming comfortable in your own skin again.
Restore your vaginal tone. Vaginal dryness and discomfort is also an issue for women after childbirth, so lubrication is crucial. Water-based lubrication is easy to clean up and doesn’t interfere with the use of condoms or sex toys. Kegel exercises can also help to improve your pelvic floor strength and vaginal tone.
To perform Kegel exercises, you first must isolate your Kegel muscles. (These are the muscles you use to stop and start urine flow). Once you have isolated your Kegels, you can exercise them throughout the day, such as when you are stuck in traffic, in a boring meeting, or even during sex.
Switch up the rhythm and the intensity such as quick spurts of clenching, alternating with slow, long clenching. You can also use sex toys to help perform Kegel exercises, such as the Berman Center Juno or Isis. By inserting the exerciser into your vagina, you can slowly build up strength and improve pelvic floor strength.
Communication is key. Last but not least, you have to keep those communication lines with your partner open. If you aren’t in the mood to have sex, or if you are scared or uncomfortable with the idea, be honest about those fears. Don’t just turn him down outright or he might get the wrong idea. Even if he does understand your anxiety, he might also feel frustrated and confused, so be open to his feedback without going into attack mode.
Many men feel like they lose their wives when the baby comes around, and it is certainly true that he no longer has your full-time attention and affection as he once did. However, let him know that this is only temporary and reassure that you appreciate and love him as much as you ever.
Compliment him and tell him that you are still very attracted to him, but that you need to take it slow and steady. Patience and understanding is key for both of you, as is the realization that this dry spell is only temporary. Every couple has ebbs and flows in their sex life, and it doesn’t mean that their sexual days are over. Take it easy and give yourself time—you will find your inner vixen again!