Pregnancy is often considered a special time for both mother and father of the yet-unborn child. Still, it can be a complicated experience. On one hand, it can be a dream come true with few complications and plenty of joy to spare for the full nine months. On the other hand, it can wreak havoc on the woman’s body, a couple’s relationship, employment and even their finances. When the pregnancy is over, it can be difficult to even think about sex and yet sex is often part of a happy, healthy union. So how can a couple reconnect sexually after a pregnancy?
What could be wrong?
It is important to understand yourself, your partner and your sexual rhythm so that you can be in a better position to understand what specific thing(s) are getting in the way of your sex life.
Does it hurt or perhaps you are afraid it will hurt? Was the pregnancy difficult and you feel rather traumatised by the experience? Are you overwhelmed by responsibility of parenting that you are too exhausted to want to have sex? Might you be suffering postpartum depression and cannot possibly think about sex or pleasure of any kind?
If you’re the partner in this relationship, do any of these things ring true with regard to your partner? Might you be the one who is overwhelmed by the responsibility to provide love, care and safety to your growing family and it is affecting your libido or sexual performance? Whatever the case, please be gentle with yourself and let it be OK to feel what you’re feeling at any given moment.
One of the most common interferences to sexual intercourse after delivery is when you attempt it too soon, or when one or both parties are concerned that it may be too soon. Generally speaking, 6 weeks is the general timeline given but this is a general timeline. The best thing to do is to speak with your doctor about your concerns. If the pregnancy and/or delivery was difficult, included surgery, treatment for other illnesses such as gestational diabetes, stitches from surgery or birth-related tearing, your doctor may recommend that you wait for longer than you think is ‘normal’. On the other hand, your doctor may give you a clean bill of health and give you the go-ahead if your pregnancy and/or delivery was relatively uneventful. The point is, don’t assume and have sex too soon or avoid it all together based on your assumptions. Instead, speak to your doctor and get their professional opinion.
I have heard that some people - both new fathers and mothers - feel embarrassed to have sex because they struggle to reconcile that the same place that helped bring forth their beautiful new baby into the world is the same place from which they would derive pleasure. I once heard a parent say that it made them feel like they would be doing something “dirty”. It’s normal to look at the product of your love and union and focus on their innocence and purity as the height of everything that is good in the world. However, I caution you against using these positive feelings as a catalyst of turning something positive (sex) into something negative.
The truth of the matter is that your body is created - literally designed - to function in multiple pleasurable ways so yes, the very place that brought forth this precious new life was also *designed* for non-child related pleasure. You’re not sinning or doing something dirty; you are designed for this. This is normal. Sexual desire is normal and so is sexual function. Embrace that when you’re ready and go for it.
You and your partner are unlikely to have the kind of sex you were having before the baby came along; bodies have changed, tears have been shed, cravings have turned one on the other, there has been morning sickness, hot tempers, sudden illness, pre/post-delivery complications and more than we could ever hope to cover in this column.
That does not mean sex cannot be had or enjoyed. It does means that you get to evolve into having a different kind of sex; more intimate kind of sex. You now get to have sex with a person with whom you created new life. You get to have sex with a woman whose body did more incredible things than you ever thought possible. You get to have sex with a man who saw the raw, unedited version of pregnancy and was present for all of it.
You don’t just “have” to have sex; you “get” to have a different kind of sex. That’s part of the privilege of your current situation and as if that wasn’t enough, the sex that you have in this season isn’t about replacing your previous sex life but adding to it by flowing with the different seasons of your life.
There is a lot we can say about sex after baby comes home. For now, I hope that you have connected with something that can inspire you to begin - or continue - to prioritise your sex life. A beautiful new addition to the family need not rob you of the very activities that brought them forth.
I wish you a happy, health sex life and congratulate you on your new bundle of joy!
Maggie Gitu is a Marriage, Family & Sex Therapist and can be reached at [email protected] or at
@MaggieTheTherapist on Instagram