Friday Favourites – The One About Sex, Baby

Today’s Friday Favourite comes from Lauren over at Hobo Mama. I asked Lauren some time ago to contribute to my post on sex after childbirth, and this week I read her post on the same subject.

Postpartum sex vs. sex before kids is an incredibly honest post – the kind she probably hopes her dad won’t read – but incredibly valuable for a first time pregnant mother with real fears and concerns over her private bits after (particularly) natural birth.

I had a friend once who elected to have a caesarian section because she “didn’t want to ruin her favourite organ.” And that’s a pretty valid fear – it seems unnatural that something that size, in my case 3.5kg, or 7lb7, and 12lb in Lauren’s case, can come out of something that’s not really that large. But nature is a fantastic and miraculous thing.

While most women will tell you that sex changes after childbirth, a surprising number will say the same after a c-section… which leads me to believe that much of the change happens in our heads as much as in our bodies.

The good news for anyone not interested in reading both articles, is that sex after childbirth is different for every single woman: for some it takes longer to enjoy it again, others are back in the saddle just weeks later, for some there’s no sensation for a while, and for others the feelings are way better than before. The bad news is, there’s no way of knowing which you’ll be.

What was your sex post childbirth experience? Feel free to comment anonymously!

(Sorry, There’s no linky today – it’ll be back soon, promise!)

Co-sleeping and Sex

A baby in your bed is the end of your sex life. If your baby is in your room, it’ll take a toll on your marriage. If you co-sleep with your baby, your husband will become jealous of the child.

These are all comments I’ve heard about the fact that we co-sleep. Yes, at 15 months our daughter is still in our bed.

There are so many changes that occur with the birth of a baby, both physically, and as a couple. That “couple” transition to “family” is massive – so much bigger than I ever thought possible. I’ve always said that with the birth of a child, comes the birth of a mother, and I’d like to add another element to that: the birth of a family.Family Feet of Four - Kenny Moller

If physical intimacy is reduced in the relationship – there’s great insight in this post to sex after childbirth – it is much more likely that it is due to there being a baby, rather than where the baby sleeps.

Many women find childbirth and breastfeeding makes them feel beautiful and empowered which often translates well into the bedroom. Conversely, there’s also a lot more pressure on dads, both financially and in terms of domestic responsibilities, which can reduce libido for them too.

Assuming everyone wants to though, here are a few pointers to make it a little easier.

The age of the child

Some people have no problem having sex with their infants in the room or on the bed. Whereas initially we thought we’d never be able to, we did at times, and Ameli always slept through.

As Dionna from Code Name Mama said, “We have a Cal King bed, so there can be 3 feet between us and him, plus the memory foam absorbs the movement. If we had a different bed, that probably wouldn’t be an option. We are also creative – living room, guest bed, etc.

For a toddler or a child that’s likely to wake up and stare you in the face – a major turn-off for most – it might be time to get creative.

When children are a little older, you can put them to bed in their own rooms in the evening, then even if they crawl in with you later, you’ve had a bit of quality time.

Rebecca Woolf wrote a rather giggle-worthy tutorial for sex whilst co-sleeping, in the end she says you could always ignore the tutorial and just have sex on the couch, which is a pretty good second option!

Obvious tips?

  • Change location – think back to where you got it on in the beginning of your sexual relationship. Recreate some of those occasions.
  • Change timing. Baby gone down for a nap? Toddler engrossed in Lego? Grab the moments you can, if not for full blown sex, then at least for a good long kiss or a little foreplay – whatever it takes to keep those home fires burning.
  • Go silent. Sadly, until the children can visit grandma or you have a night at a hotel, the wall-banging, chandelier swinging, caveman-esque screams might have to be toned down a little. Go silent though… you might like the added challenge.

Remember, co-sleeping is not a new or modern phenomena. It has been done for most of the history of man-kind, and we’ve not died out from lack of opportunity yet.

People in one room huts, igloos and shacks still manage to procreate, and I doubt their children cheer them on nightly. There are ways – you just have to be creative, be spontaneous, and really, really want to.  And honestly, it can add a new level to your relationship – sneaking around like the young in love again – but that does depend entirely on you and your approach.

Natural Childbirth: Changes In Sex Life

It usually starts with,”Can I ask you a personal question?”I must admit, I don’t mind. There’s not much I haven’t shared already. So she continues,”How are things, you know, down there, since your natural birth?”

It’s a question I really don’t mind answering. It’s a legitimate fear. And it’s a question I’ve had in person and by email countless times too. Generally, people want to know specific things:

  • Have there been physical changes in your body?
  • How has your sex life changed?
  • Isn’t your vagina really stretched now?
  • How do you have sex and co-sleep?

As to the physical changes, there’s an interesting article on Baby Centre about Sex: After the baby, definitely worth a read.

Of course, I’m only one person, so I’ve asked a few friends to share their views too:

I’m sure we’ve all heard the stories of this one or that one who were back in the saddle less than a week after birth  – I knew a girl who fell pregnant the same month her daughter was born! But of course, this is not ideal. The advice is generally to wait until you’re ready, but at least six weeks to allow for the uterus, cervix and if required, the perineum to heal. (Midwives and doctors will tell you the risk of infection is greater in the first six weeks.)

There are massive physical changes in the body during pregnancy and childbirth and it takes a few weeks for the organs to move back into their ‘correct’ places and for things to heal up again. That said, after natural child birth, the vagina and perineum start to heal up really soon again –  for me the sting during urination, caused by the grazing when my daughter shot out in one go after 48 hours of labour, lasted about three days.

The whole area felt a little swollen, and it was only during urination for those first few days that it hurt. Not helped by the fact that I didn’t drink my usual amount of water during those 48 hours, so the urine was a lot more acidic than usual too. ‘They’ recommend, and I second, a squirty bottle of water kept by the toilet so that you can ‘dilute’ what hits the area. I also strongly recommend a sitz bath and I kept the sitz solution on hand to cleanse with after each trip to the loo.

Dionna, from Code Name Mama, says “We tried the first time at four weeks postpartum. That was a bad idea, but I really wanted to show Tom some of the affection he’d been giving me by supporting me through those first difficult weeks of breastfeeding. We quickly abandoned that first attempt. I think the first time we successfully had sex (successfully for him, still pretty painful for me) was at six weeks postpartum. It really didn’t start feeling good to me until at least 12 weeks postpartum, if not later. Mind you, I had a cracked tailbone and substantial bruising.”

Lauren from Hobo Mama had a more difficult time resuming their sex life: “Our midwives and various other sources told us we could resume intercourse at six weeks postpartum, and for me, that was far too optimistic. Even after an uncomplicated vaginal birth, everything down there still hurt way too much at six weeks. I think we resumed some sort of sexual relations about 4 months in.”

We had our first experience about six weeks after, and I remember feeling pretty much nothing. I was too scared to even say anything about it to my husband, as the thought of never having any sensation again was terrifying. Lauren shares a similar experience:

“For a while after that, it still was uncomfortable for me, and then it became just nothing. I didn’t feel any real arousal, and I was so scared that’s how it would be for all time. I didn’t even tell my husband that was how I felt, because it was so depressing for me to think about. Finally, around 9 months, I felt the first glimmer of returning libido, and I was so relieved!”

Dionna explains that her low libido is probably due to tiredness more than anything else. “I have had a noticeably smaller sex drive since having a baby. In the first year, that might have been partially due to breastfeeding hormones, but even with Kieran not nursing as much, my sex drive is still smaller. It’s probably more because of exhaustion at the end of the day. I’d recommend that couples who are too tired to make love find a different time of the day – early in the morning or at lunch time.”

Another mother, Louise, who also has a one year old old daughter, shares that she also has a very low sex drive, and also attributes it to breastfeeding hormones, but on the up side, she says that when they have sex “once or twice a month” it is a much more powerful experience than it was before. Louise always enjoyed sex anyway, but now her orgasms are much stronger and last longer.

This has also been my experience: lower sex drive, but so much better than ever before when it does happen.

Deena, also a mum of one, says that she has never had an orgasm during sex, but feels that it is getting closer and closer.

It’s not the case for everyone though. Celina, a mum of two, and her fiance have an enviable sex life anyway, and having a baby didn’t stand in the way of that. With her first born, they waited three weeks because of her episiotomy, and after her second, she says “let’s just say I was very busy, so oral sex became our primary satisfaction for about four weeks.

As far as changes to my body I’ve actually become even more aware of my beauty after becoming a mother. I feel so beautiful when I breastfeed and that confidence transfers very well to the bedroom.

Dionna agrees. On the positive side, I feel like I’m more in touch with my body since having Kieran, she says.

And I agree here too. Since Ameli’s birth, I can look at my body, with it’s spots, wrinkles and cellulite, and for possibly the first time ever, not loathe seeing myself in the mirror, because I have found a strength and awesomeness within myself and my ability to birth a child naturally. What this hunk of flesh is capable of creating and going through, blows my mind and surpasses what I used to see, looking at the physical form in the mirror. There was also a lot of sexual healing for me, following a very peaceful water birth.

For most of us, a major contributing factor to lessened sexual activity could be the fact that we co-sleep.

For Celina, the only thing that’s really changed in their sex life is the spontaneity.

We make love at night or in the early morning. The only time it’s spontaneous is when both girls happen to be asleep, then we run to each other. The baby now sleeps in her own bed in our room. But during the first months of her life we would have to leave the room and she would usually wake up half way through. It’s been tough. But, I feel it isn’t a lack of desire on our part just the inability to find the time.”

Dionna followed the same pattern as us: when the babies were very young, we were just very quiet.

Says Dionna: We have a Cal King bed, so there can be 3 feet between us and him, plus the memory foam absorbs the movement. If we had a different bed, that probably wouldn’t be an option. We are also creative – living room, guest bed, etc.

And yes, creativity is probably the co-sleepers best friend.

In the end, sex goes through phases, just like every other aspect of a relationship. Sometimes you’re too busy, sometimes you’re not ready, and sometimes you’re too tired. The key to a good sex life after a natural birth, is the same as before: communication. And from a physical perspective, it really is different from woman to woman all you can do is listen to your body, and do what feels right for you and your partner.

As Lauren, who is pregnant with her second child puts it, After the next birth, I’ll know just to take it easy and give my body and psyche the recovery time they need.