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Sex after giving birth

If you weren’t having much sex during your pregnancy, you may be looking forward to getting things back on track. But, for many couples, it can take a while to get things back to normal after the birth.

Your body might take some time to return to a state where sex feels OK. This is a common experience for many women after giving birth:

Following birth only 10-15% of new parents don’t experience any problems at all. Mothers and fathers commonly feel worried about resuming having sex [1].
13 months after the birth, 22% were still having problems sexually [2].

Try to accept that it’s normal to need time. Even when you’ve recovered physically, you might not feel in the mood, or you might be slow to be turned on. Give yourself a chance and don't pressure on yourself to bounce back, even if your partner is keen to be intimate.

Remember that there are other ways to be sexual besides penetrative sex and, if those are still off the table, focus on improving the quality of your time together, giving each other lots of cuddles and affection, or just having meaningful conversations.

Feeling guilty about not feeling sexy
 

Despite the understanding that your body is still going through a lot, you may still feel guilty for not being in the mood or not feeling able to satisfy your partner.

Even if your partner isn’t expressing any disappointment over the lack of sex or changes in your sex life, it’s common to be worried about how things might be perceived from the other end. One study of women who had recently had children showed that:

57%... were worried about the sexual satisfaction of their spouse following the birth of their child [2].

If you’re carrying guilt around with you, it might be a good idea to talk this over with your partner and remind yourselves that you’re not alone – only 14% of women and 12% of men report having no sexual problems after giving birth [2].  

If you’re not up for having sex, let your partner know that you still desire him, but that you just need a bit more time. It may be difficult for your partner to understand the effects that such drastic body changes can have on your confidence. Taking the time and effort to explain, can help put your partner in a better position to show sensitivity and help build up your confidence. Be descriptive of your own feelings, and ask him to be mindful of them. 

It will probably help to have the conversation with your partner beforehand. Explain why you don’t want sex at the moment, and what you can offer at this time. Sex may not be as high on your partner’s priority list as you think, but asking about it can be a great opener to discussing how you’re feeling and what you’re worried about. The conversation may even help put you at ease.

If physical intimacy is your partner’s preferred way to express love, it doesn’t necessarily have to mean sex. People who express love physically while still appreciate a stroke of the hair as you walk past, or a surprise cuddle while they are doing the washing up. Hugs, snuggles on the bed, hand-holding, massages – these will all help a physical person feel loved at a time when you don’t feel up to having sex.

 

References

[1] Sagiv-Reiss, D.M., Birnbaum, G.E. & Safir, M.P (2012). Changes in Sexual Experiences and Relationship Quality During Pregnancy. Archives of Sexual Behavior. October 2012, Volume 41, Issue 5, pp 1241–1251

[2] Von Sydow, K. (2000). Sexuality during pregnancy and after childbirth: A meta-analysis of 59 studies. Reproductive Health Matters, 8(15), 183. doi:10.1016/s0968-8080(00)90068-5

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