By Knude Society Team

Having sex for the first time postpartum

If I’m honest I was pretty scared to imagine what sex with my husband would be like after we had our baby. The culturally accepted wisdom seems to be: “Sex? Kiss goodbye to that when you become a parent! All you’ll want to do is sleep!”

I so desperately wanted things to be different for us. Sex is important to all couples, but secretly I thought it was particularly important to us. It was a significant way we had connected when we first met and he was the first partner who not only was comfortable with me expressing my bisexuality, but celebrated it.

We had explored things together that neither of us had done before and I really feel we had both helped each other express our true sexual selves. We’d also done a good job of keeping up sex whilst I was pregnant. To be clear, you don’t have to have sex when you’re pregnant. I know for so many people they feel too unwell to, find their size prohibitive (especially the closer you get to your due date) or find it hard to feel themselves/ sexy in their changing body. We had been lucky.

We took it slow, used lots of lube and actually initially, I would say, I was a little more up for it than I was pre-pregnancy! The birth of our daughter was unfortunately complicated and much more medicalised that we wanted. I ended up being induced, which involved having my waters broken and the oxytocin drip. I suffered a third degree tear and had to be rushed into emergency surgery moments after the birth.

So, to be quite honest, when I came home (10 days after I was admitted, 5 days after our daughter was born), I was unable to string a sentence together. Let alone to think about tearing my husband’s clothes off. After the first few weeks at home, when we had (kind of) acclimatised to the lack of sleep and answering our daughter’s every whim, something happened that I wouldn’t have predicted. My husband made a point of giving me long kisses before going to sleep.

Initially, I panicked thinking “Oh my god, he wants to get back on the horse right away and I’m literally too scared to even look at my vagina right now”. (Side note, when I did eventually first get brave enough to look down there, I did cry. I had what I’d describe as a little wound on the edge of my labia, which looked red and angry. I checked it out with my midwife though and she said it was normal. It did heal up in a few weeks or so.) Hubby very sweetly explained that he expected nothing from me. He was trying to let me know that he loved me and still found me sexy.

This was very kind of him, but I can’t say a little part of me didn’t wonder if that was true. Surely he would eventually get sick of my “sorry babe, not yet”s? Roughly six weeks after giving birth my husband and I managed to have sex. Of course, you may get to it in more or less time than us. Depending on a host of factors, including how you’re feeling, your labour and how your child is feeding and sleeping etc. The important thing is that there is no set time you should start having sex again and you should feel totally like you want to when you do.

Our daughter went down for a good nap and we had time, which I would say is the most important ingredient for the first time post birth. I’m a lady who needs time anyway, but triple, maybe quadruple it in this case! Second key ingredient- lube, lube, LUBE. Even if you’re not a lube person normally just for the anxiety reduction alone, the lube was worth it.

Physically though it did help. I was lucky, despite my tear the only thing I noticed was that things were “tighter” down there. Which I guessed was the stitches and my vagina no longer being exactly the same shape as it was before. The experience was nice and we both came, which was wonderful and a relief. We could still be close in this way.

Since this first time we are managing to have sex, but not as frequently as before. One of us (me) is unfortunately often too tired to get myself into the right headspace. What I would say is, however, when we do, it’s amazing, probably partly because it’s less frequent. I’m working hard to quieten the voice in my head worrying that we aren’t having sex enough, by really relishing how great it is when we do.

Good luck to everyone embarking on a postpartum sex journey. Take your time and don’t worry if you have a few false starts. Also, don’t feel guilty for wanting this part of yourself and relationship back. Couples connected in this way, should hopefully make better parents, right? I think so. I want my daughter to have parents that enjoy this aspect of their lives still. I want her to know she’s entitled to sexual fulfilment from a relationship when her time comes.