Intimacy after your newborn arrives
What you need to know:
- After delivery, your partner’s body will change. Some changes might be permanent.
- Reproductive changes that could affect her attitude and desire for sex include episiotomy, vaginal dryness, soreness, pain, low libido, bleeding, loss of elasticity in vaginal tissue and thin vaginal tissue.
After childbirth, sex is probably the last thing on your partner’s mind. And for good reasons – she is physically exhausted and her emotions are unstable as she adjusts to the demands of new motherhood. The attention you used to get will also be taken by the baby.
In other words, it will take some time before your partner is ready for any intimate encounters.
Here is what you need to know about intimacy after childbirth
How long will it take to resume sex?
Time will vary depending on the type of delivery your partner had and how complicated or smooth it was. Dr. Janet Thuthwa, an obstetrician-gynecologist, recommends resuming sex after at least six weeks following a vaginal birth. This period applies to birth by cesarean section, subject to approval by your doctor.
“If she had an episiotomy, resuming sexual activity too soon will increase the risk of postpartum hemorrhage and uterine infection,” says Dr. Thuthwa.
An episiotomy is a surgical incision done to widen the vaginal canal during delivery.
After physical healing, it might take more time before a woman regains her pre-pregnancy libido because of hormonal imbalances caused by a drop in estrogen levels, nursing, pain around the genital area, and postpartum emotions.
“Estrogen is a sex hormone mainly made in the ovaries, and is responsible for regulation and development of the woman’s reproductive system and sex characteristics,” Dr. Thuthwa explains.
Chances are that your partner’s interest in sex will only start rising after weaning.
“When you are nursing, the decrease in estrogen together with high prolactin and oxytocin levels simulate menopause in the first two to three months,” says Dr. Rebecca Booth, a gynecologist and the author of The Venus Week.
The body changes
After delivery, your partner’s body will change. Some changes might be permanent. Dr. Yvonne Fulbright, the author of The Better Sex says that for a start, your partner’s breasts might grow permanently, and the abdominal stretch sustained from the nine-month gestation period might result in a permanent, slightly stretched belly. Your partner might put on weight that she may seem unable to get rid of. “If you don’t step in and reassure her, these physical changes will dent her confidence to embrace nakedness and intimacy,” Dr. Fulbright says.
According to Dr. Thuthwa, reproductive changes that could affect her attitude and desire for sex include episiotomy, vaginal dryness, soreness, pain, low libido, bleeding, loss of elasticity in vaginal tissue, and thin vaginal tissue.
Getting the groove back
Once you understand that she may not be in the mood, take initiative to show her that she is still desirable and worthy of a good treat. You can start by scheduling quality time together. Sarah Hunter, a sex therapist and the author of Not Always in the Mood says that you should get a qualified nanny who can stand in when you have your quality time. “Quality time doesn’t mean asking for intimacy. Hold hands, embrace each other, and sit on the couch,” she says. Arrange for dinner dates and make a habit of showing her romantic gestures until intimacy returns. Encourage her to go get spruced up at the hair salon or spa as you spend time with the baby. Occasionally bring her flowers and perform your fatherly and spousal duties of helping with the baby and doing chores around the house.
How you communicate will play a role in how soon sex resumes, how it happens, and how often it occurs. “Don’t make assumptions. Just as you may assume that she doesn’t need you anymore, your lady might be thinking that you no longer find her attractive and desirable,” says Dr. Fulbright. Learn how to express your postpartum love language, and be gentle and sensitive in what you say. For example, when you first engage in intimacy postpartum, your partner will be very conscious and anxious about her body. Don’t make weird remarks or awkward jokes.