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Today, we’re diving into a topic that often goes unspoken in the realm of parenthood – postpartum sex. Bringing a new life into the world can bring profound changes in your physical, emotional, and sexual well-being. While it’s crucial to focus on the joys of parenthood, it’s equally important to acknowledge the complexities that come with it, including how it can impact your intimacy and relationships.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the various aspects of postpartum sexuality, offering guidance, understanding, and compassion for new parents navigating this time. Remember, you’re not alone in this, and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Let’s embark on this exploration together with an open heart and a curious mind.

Your Body Changes After Giving Birth! 

Postpartum Essentials - a line art drawing of a baby being cradled with a parent's hand on their head with a very light pink background with peach water color circles and gold glitter accents

The physical changes that occur during pregnancy and childbirth can leave many new parents feeling less connected to their bodies. It’s common to experience some discomfort, pain, and a sense of unfamiliarity, especially early postpartum. If pain or discomfort persists, please contact your care provider.

It’s this unfamiliarity that can make sexual experiences post birth somewhat foreign, or for some, like you’re sleeping with someone for the first time all over again. Some birthing folks worry about painful intercourse post birth, others are not comfortable in their new body, and others find the idea of postpartum sex or physical intimacy repulsive.

The exhaustion from lack of sleep combined with the demands of parenthood, and demands of society post birth can be so taxing that physical connection could be the last thing on your mind. Or, it could be something really top of mind, but you’re not sure how to connect with your partner.

One area that folks find resistance post-baby is embracing your postpartum body.  If this is a concern for you, working with your body can be a great first step towards regaining your sense of self and sexual confidence.

Here are some areas you can explore:

1.  Self-Compassion: Understand that your body has gone through an incredible transformation to bring new life into the world. It’s okay if things don’t feel the same immediately. Practice self-compassion and remind yourself that your body’s journey is also a part of the parenting journey. Seek support from other friends who have recently given birth, your partner or support person, a postpartum doula, a parenting group, and/or online communities.

2.  Communication: Talk to your partner(s) or support person about how you’re feeling. Open, honest, and empathetic communication is key during this period. Sharing your insecurities, fears, and desires with one another, can foster a stronger emotional connection which can lead to an increased desire for physical intimacy.

3.  Self-Care: Prioritize self-care to boost your self-esteem. Simple practices like taking relaxing baths, practicing gentle yoga, or getting a massage or practicing self massage, especially on your belly, can help you reconnect with your body while also reducing stress.

4.  Patience: Give yourself time to adjust to your new role as a parent and your evolving emotional landscape. Understand that it’s okay to experience a wide range of emotions, including sadness, anxiety, and even anger. If you experience these symptoms frequently, very intensely, or need support coping, please reach out to your care provider.

5.  Bonding: Embrace the unique bonding experience that comes with parenting. Sharing the joys and challenges of caring for your baby can bring you and your partner closer together, enhancing your emotional connection.

6.  Seek Support: Don’t hesitate to seek support from friends, family, doula, or a therapist if you’re struggling with postpartum emotions. A support network can provide valuable guidance and comfort during this transitional period.

Postpartum Sex After Giving Birth Means Rekindling Intimacy

While physical intimacy might take a backseat during the early postpartum months, most parents want to gradually reintroduce it into their relationship at some point.

Rekindling intimacy is not just about sex, but also about nurturing the physical, emotional, romantic connection with your partner(s).

Non-Sexual Intimacy:

Start by focusing on non-sexual forms of intimacy, such as cuddling, holding hands, or simply spending quality time together. These acts of affection can rekindle the emotional connection between you and your partner(s).

Slow and Steady:

When you feel ready to explore sexual intimacy, take it slow. There’s no rush. Remember that your body needs time to heal, and it’s perfectly normal for your desires and preferences to change.The standard 6-week check up as the mark where you’re magically ready to engage in postpartum sex again is not the deciding factor. You get to decide when your body and mind are ready.

Communication (Again!):

Continuously communicate with your partner about your desires, boundaries, and any physical discomfort you might be experiencing, even if that means in the middle of a sex!  Encourage your partner to share their feelings and concerns as well.

Postpartum Essentials - a line art drawing of a mother and father cradling each other and a newborn on the father's shoulder with a beige background with green water color circle and gold glitter accents

Dealing with Postpartum Sex Challenges Postpartum

It’s important to acknowledge that postpartum sexuality can come with its own set of challenges. These challenges can vary from person to person, but understanding that they are common and manageable is a key step towards addressing them.

 

    • Vaginal Dryness and Discomfort: Hormonal changes and chestfeeding can lead to vaginal dryness and discomfort. Using a water-based lubricant can help alleviate this issue, making postpartum sex more enjoyable. If you have discomfort, seek the help of a pelvic floor physical therapist. They are absolutely worth their weight in gold. If you’re local to the Edmonds, Washington area, we recommend BodyMotion PT and B3 Physical Therapy and Wellness.
    • Exhaustion: The demands of parenthood can be exhausting, leaving little energy for intimacy. Consider scheduling intimate moments when you both feel most rested and alert, even if they may be far and few between.
    • Body Image Issues: If body image issues persist, consider seeking professional help or joining a support group. Remember that you are not alone in feeling this way, and there are resources available to help you navigate these feelings.

Perhaps It’s Time to Seek Professional Help

Sometimes, postpartum sexuality challenges can be more complex and require professional assistance. Don’t hesitate to seek the guidance of a healthcare provider or therapist if:

    • Physical discomfort persists and doesn’t improve with time or lubricants.

    • Emotional distress is affecting your overall well-being and relationship.

    • You’re experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression or anxiety.

    • You and your partner are struggling to communicate or connect on an intimate level.

Navigating postpartum sexuality and relationships after giving birth can be a challenging yet rewarding journey- you may even find positive changes in intimacy after giving birth . It’s essential to approach this phase of life with patience, understanding, and an open heart. Remember that you and your partner(s) are embarking on this voyage together, and the bond you share will only grow stronger as you navigate the joys and challenges of parenthood.

Embrace your postpartum body, nurture your emotional connection, and communicate openly with your partner(s). Seek support when needed, and remember that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to postpartum sex. Your journey is unique and we hope you’ll  find your way back to fulfilling and intimate relationship(s).

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