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The Truth About Post-Partum Sex

The mere mention of the topic can be traumatising, but post-partum sex is a very real concern for a lot of couples. It is an area that tends to coincide with anxiety, steeped in the physical and the emotional, which makes it incredibly complex.

The hope is that we can explore the topic here and offer some reassurance and practical advice that might just take the edge off your worries.

Mum-of-one Tracey Quinn explores how sex and intimacy can change for a couple after having a baby.

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For a lot of couples, sex can become intrinsically connected to fertility and pregnancy. The experience of trying to conceive is a bit of an oxymoron in many ways because fertility is connected to specific timing, biology and for many people a huge host of other considerations.

At the same time, a lot of the things I have just listed are not exactly conducive to intimacy. For many people sex is freeing in nature. It is liberating, fun and not remotely connected to anything prescribed. That is where things get a little bit complex.

So for this reason, I think it is important to address that for many people the 'trying to conceive' phase is a realm where one’s sex life may undergo great changes. It helps if we can imagine sex and sexuality as something fluid. A catalyst that threads our relationship and grows with us.

Sex Does Change, But Not Negatively

Post-partum sex is different. There is no denying that fact. But let me first reassure you that 'different' does not correspond with 'bad', 'painful' or 'over'. For many people, sex is likely to be much less of a priority than it was before the baby came along. That is quite simply because everything in life becomes less of a priority when your baby arrives.

Having a baby changes the way you see the world. It changes the way food tastes, happiness feels and time passes. It is a life-affirming experience that really and truly shifts your perspective about everything on this planet and nothing can really prepare you for that.

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One moment, you were living quite selfishly, but very happily as an independent human being. You may have found another human being to enjoy life with and together you carved a new reality and way of life. Now, imagine that being thrown into a blender.

I don’t mean that in a negative way. It is just a realistic account of just how surreal reality can feel when you welcome your beautiful baby in to the world, and indeed into your relationship.

Exhaustion Is A Factor

Let’s talk about tiredness, shall we? It is a term synonymous with parenting, but do we really know what to expect? Many parents claim that it is an exhaustion like no other. In some ways, nature prepares a woman for lack of sleep as late pregnancy tends to offer a host of symptoms that lead to less sleep than they desire.

The reality is that when you are sleep deprived life is considerably more difficult. Your thoughts are cloudy, your mood can feel more sombre and the world can appear quite dark. It is worth acknowledging just how much lack of sleep affects your day to day quality of life.

For this reason, it is fair to say that it will affect your experience of sex. At the end of each long day, your priority may be finding a block of sleep as soon as possible and for as long as possible. Sex may not be on your radar for quite some time.

The Physical Recovery

Pregnancy and giving birth causes a huge amount of trauma for a woman’s body. In the weeks that follow the birth of your child, you are likely to feel sore and achy on a number of different levels.

On a personal level, I remember expecting to feel amazing after I gave birth. Pregnancy felt like the build up to a moment where life would feel nothing short of euphoric and it really did not pan out that way.

Meeting my baby was incredible beyond words. The bond was unlike anything I had ever experienced before, but I was in a huge amount of pain and this is not something I really expected. I had never even heard about haemorrhoids before!

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For women, like me, who experience a tear or episiotomy during birth it is difficult to comprehend that you will ever feel 'normal' again down there. It can feel unnatural, uncomfortable and unlike the way you felt pre-baby. What comes with this is a sense of anxiety and fear for simple sanitary reasons, not to mention sexual reasons. But it does feel normal once again, provided you give yourself the time and care needed to heal appropriately both physically and emotionally.

Contraception Concerns

In terms of fears, pregnancy is often one of the greatest. Contraception seems like a strange word to introduce when we talk about postnatal sex but the reality is that it may need to be explored by a couple very early on.

It is often one of the biggest concerns and reasons for hesitation. Something that was once so acutely associated with desiring a pregnancy result is now considered to be a threat and something the couple fear may result in another pregnancy. This is why communication is imperative.

Talk It Out

Communication is always an important factor in one’s sex life. When it comes to postnatal sex, communication is perhaps more important than ever. In some cases, your partner may feel ready to be intimate sooner than you do.

Communicating how you feel both physically and mentally is incredibly important. It affects the trust element that is so vital for a positive sexual relationship. A person should never feel pressured in to entering this realm once again. It should be an agreement by both parties when the time feels right.

For some women it is a couple of weeks later and for others it is several months and beyond. Communication is key particularly in relationships where sex has always played a huge role. For example, a woman who is breastfeeding may feel entirely different about her body in terms of intimacy. It is important to speak up and ensure that both parties are comfortable with the manner in which things change if that is what is needed.

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A couple’s sex life is likely to undergo changes when they become parents but with compassion, care and understanding it can be a really special thing. For many it can be more special than it ever was before if the pressure is removed, the fun is highlighted and communication plays a starring role.

Did you and your husband's sex love change after having a baby? Tell us about it in the comments below.


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