Mayarya sits down for a chat with Midwife and birth educator Sofie Jacobs of Urban Hatch (urban-hatch.com) about regaining intimacy after birth.
Q: How soon after birth is considered “normal” to re-start your sex life?
A: There’s no such thing as “normal”! Every couple is different. The key to finding the right time is to talk to each other. Timescales can vary from just a few weeks after childbirth to six months or more – all are entirely normal. There should never be any pressure – just an open discussion about each of your wishes. After all, feeling understood and supported really are the most vital ingredients to feel turned on.
Q: What would you say to a new mother who feels insecure about her post-natal body?
A: Firstly, try not to worry! It’s very rare that a new mother wouldn’t have concerns of some sort after having a baby. Your body changes so much in such a short space of time that it’s important to allow yourself time to heal and also to get comfortable with yourself. Many women worry whether their partner will still find them attractive, but explaining your insecurities to your partner offers a good opportunity for reassurance and intimacy – you’ll soon realize that they don’t see your body with the same critical eyes that you may do.
Q: What impact do new-mom hormones have on your sexual relationship?
A: Women will experience a lot of hormonal highs and lows after having a baby, so it’s quite natural to feel low in mood, tired and teary – hardly emotions to get you in the mood for sex!
It’s also worth noting that your body prioritizes stress hormones over sex hormones, and that having a newborn baby can be a time of stress as you both adjust. To help regulate your hormones, try to ensure that every meal includes protein, healthy fats and fiber, and avoid the quick fix of a sugar high.
On top of your fluctuating hormones, you’re also dealing with reduced sleep, as well as lots of emotional and physical demands, all while navigating your new life as a mom. After a while, you’ll begin to feel more secure in your new role, and you may surprise yourself when your libido returns, as strong as ever.
Q: Will my partner view me differently?
A: Very often partners can also suffer from a lower sex drive after welcoming a new baby to the family. And while seeing you as a mother may be part of the adjustment period, there’s also stress, worry and exhaustion to add into the mix, making a sky-high libido pretty unlikely. Often partners are concerned about hurting you, or waking the baby, not to mention the risk of an unwanted pregnancy so soon after you’ve given birth.
On the other hand, some partners may feel sexually frustrated or rejected during the post-birth period, and while it may sound like a cliché, talking really is the best medicine in these scenarios so you can be mindful of each other’s perspective.
And an important point: while you may feel that having sex is something that you just need to ‘get over and done with’, it’s very important to feel both emotionally and physically ready first.
Q: My partner and I seem to bicker constantly – how can I rebuild intimacy after birth?
A: I’ve seen a lot of couples feel overwhelmed by life with a new baby and this can result in them feeling isolated from each other. It’s easy to fall into feeling disconnected from your partner during early parenthood, so regardless of whether you feel able to have full sex, finding moments of intimacy is important to strengthen your relationship. Put aside time to simply snuggle, kiss each other goodnight, have a quick embrace when they arrive home, or share a shoulder massage or foot rub. All of these things allow you to physically connect with each other, enabling sexual intimacy to become more natural.
Of course, from now on, sex will become something that works around the demands of parenthood. But while having children means sex becomes less spontaneous, it doesn’t have to be boring! Scheduling a night or two each week for sex can actually do wonders for your relationship, giving you both something to look forward to. By prioritizing intimacy, you allow your relationship to thrive – even in amongst the craziness of family life!
Q: Will sex feel the same after birth? After giving birth, you may feel disconnected to your pelvic floor and core, and it is quite normal to need help in getting that connection back. Discuss your pelvic floor with your healthcare professional at your six-week postnatal check, and remember that if you are struggling, a few appointments with a women’s health physiotherapist may be all you need.
A: The pelvic floor muscles are essential, both for bladder control, but also for your sexual pleasure. And while it can be hard to remember to do your exercises every day, if you can remind yourself – say, when you’re washing up, or cleaning your teeth – your multi-tasking will result in greater sexual satisfaction in the long run. It’s a win-win!
That said, it’s important to get these exercises right, as a pelvic floor that is too tight can have as much of a negative impact on someone’s sex life as one that is too weak. My message to all moms who aren’t exactly sure how to do their exercises is to get themselves checked – ideally by a women’s health physiotherapist or midwife who understands core and pelvic floor functionality.