Let’s explore postpartum sex and what it means to a new mom.
Picture this …
You are six weeks postpartum from a vaginal delivery. You had a second-degree tear, and your stitches haven’t fully dissolved. You are using a peri-bottle when you pee because it still stings. You are bracing your perineum and praying when you get off of the couch to change the pad you are still wearing. The fight or flight hormones from delivery and bringing home the baby have worn off, so you are starting to become aware of how exhausted you really are. Your shirt is wet – is it milk from your engorged breasts or spit-up? Who knows? Who cares? You stumble down the hallway, eyes half-open, and catch your partner sitting on the couch, giving you “the look.”
You know the look. The “I’m down and ready” look. He knows you got the “all clear” yesterday at the one check-up you have had and will have since you delivered your baby.
Can anyone relate to this?
How are you feeling at this moment?
If you could create full sentences, you may construct a string of colorful words to share with this life partner of yours – we love this person, right?
Ok, just double checking.
Everyone’s experience is different, but universally, the postpartum time can be marked by a roller coaster of emotions, radical body changes, sleep deprivation, sensory overload, and a desperate attempt to have even basic human needs met. This leaves intimacy, especially sex, very low or even non-existent on the list of priorities. Lack of support or understanding from the partner or the community can exacerbate these experiences and lead to feelings of loneliness. Post birth, some will experience postpartum depression, anxiety, intrusive thoughts, or rage, further complicating this dynamic.
The six-week “all clear” is so much more complex than your vagina being suitable for intercourse again – because intimacy and sex have always been more complex than that.
During my recovery challenges, I found that open, direct, and clear communication with my spouse was imperative to maintaining our partnership – he could never read my mind before, he certainly couldn’t now. I needed emotional intimacy, understanding, and closeness with my partner more during the fourth trimester than ever before. When my body didn’t feel right, and sex remained painful, I sought the help of professionals to find a solution. And when my mind didn’t feel right, and the day-to-day felt painful, I sought the help of professionals to find a solution.
You are still a person. You deserve to have your needs met. As a human being, you need emotional intimacy and will desire sexual intimacy with your partner. Do not let a six-week “all clear” prevent you from seeking more support if and when you feel it is needed – because you deserve to have all of your needs met.