Let’s talk about sex during postpartum and address factors that may impact and improve sex after delivery.
A couple might want to connect and discuss sex before the six week postnatal check-up, so when the time comes any concerns you and your partner have can be discussed with your provider. Be ready to embrace change as sex postpartum can be a very different experience than what your experience was before and during pregnancy. As your body changes to its new normal you may find sex feels a bit different than before, and your lifestyle will certainly be different.
Factors that may impact this experience are; access to support, taking care of a newborn, the transition to being parents, and how a couple is doing emotionally postpartum. Many women report that sex during the fourth trimester is very difficult due to fatigue, nursing or feeding issues, being “touched out” after caring for baby, and emotional fluctuations in mood.
Fluctuations in mood can range from baby blues symptoms to postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, and postpartum obsessive compulsive disorder. If you have concerns about these symptoms please talk to your medical provider or reach out to a therapist that specializes in pregnancy, postpartum, and new parenthood support. Lactation can impact both libido, lubrication which can become physical barriers to postpartum sex.
Some steps can be taken to address these barriers to postpartum sex. It is first important to assess your body’s readiness for sex, healing of the perineum, and desire for sex. Through self-assessment if you determine you are ready for sex, discuss with your partner what expectations and support are needed for a positive experience. Remember that sex and intimacy begin with your mind being ready. Advocating for your needs with your new family dynamic is a good first step to feeling confident and supported enough to rekindle your sex and love life. Ask for what your need and focus on ways to receive support. Focus on foreplay and remind yourself and each other that there are lots of ways to have an orgasm that might not include penetration. Different positions, speed and depth of penetration might also help as your body has changed over the course of your pregnancy with changes to your pelvic floor and possible scar tissue as a result of the birth.
Our bodies are amazing in how they can heal and sometimes they need a little help getting back on track. Support can occur in many ways, We hope families feel empowered to find the support they need, whether that is therapy, acupuncture, physical therapy, or other support.
Lies van Bekkum, Psy.D.
Licensed Clinical Psychologist
And Cecily Yousaf LAc, MSOM