Self pleasure may be the last thing on your mind when you’ve just brought another human being into the world. However, your postpartum sex life with a partner and your own personal pleasure is so important for your overall well-being, as well for the well-being of your child.
But how and when do you begin to reintroduce your pleasure into your postpartum sex life?
With hormonal, emotional and physical changes to the body, particularly to the sexual parts, this process of sexual rediscovery can be a slow and somewhat painful one. But it doesn’t have to be.
When can you have sex after giving birth?
Kate: When someone decides to start having sex again is a personal choice for that woman and that couple, and obviously there will be a variation of factors at play such as the birth you had. However, it is recommended that you do not have postpartum sex until your 6 week postnatal check up with your GP.
Jessica: It is always safest to listen your doctor’s advice. Get their support, care and supervision in making sure everything is fine. Once you have been cleared medically, that’s when I feel like I can step in.
As a Sexological Bodyworker, I help support you to listen to your own body. Despite having been told by a medical professional, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are ready to have postpartum sex just yet. Being cleared is just the first step into being ready.
What should you do if you find you have no sex drive after baby is born?
Kate: Sex drive comes and goes and is situational. We understand that desire is also responsive, and that often once we give ourselves a chance and opportunity for sex to happen, it is more likely rather than expecting ourselves to be spontaneously aroused.
The thing about having just had a baby is that these opportunities are hard to come by. It is recommended that your baby sleeps in your room for the first six months. Plus you are totally exhausted and getting adjusted to your new normal!
Many couples forget about their identity as a couple outside of being parents. It’s important to make space for yourselves and to not put yourselves under pressure which will only inhibit your sex drive further.
Jessica: Take steps that are emotionally and physically helpful for you. Listen to your own body’s natural needs. You may be so exhausted that postpartum sex isn’t even on the menu yet. Or you may be craving intimacy, kissing and cuddling. Perhaps you want full blown sexual intercourse. Or even non-penetrative postpartum sex.
Most importantly, explore your body and sexual self again first, before letting someone else get involved.
Even if the doctor has given the okay, it may be useful seeing a pelvic floor physiotherapist for a physical examination to see if you’re physically ready. Especially as your stomach muscles naturally separate. Usually people want to get straight back into exercise to get rid of excess baby weight, and we forget sex is a form of exercise.
Resting and nourishing yourself for as long as you need will help you recover quicker and prevent potentially longer term issues.
What advice would you give to someone who is looking to reintroduce pleasure into their lives after having a baby?
Kate: Focus on exactly that – pleasure. Pleasure can be achieved in so many ways apart from just penetrative sex which can feel challenging after having given birth.
So make time for yourselves, focus on touch and kissing and touching, add massage and do whatever you need to, to make yourself feel more comfortable and confident.
Take your time and remember that touch is the best way to help desire and arousal which will make postpartum sex more comfortable. Make sure you have thought about contraception. As it is possible to get pregnant whilst you are breastfeeding.
Lubricant is also an absolute must, especially if you are feeling a bit nervous. Breastfeeding can also cause vaginal dryness and so it’s really important to make sure you are looking after yourself. I highly recommend the all organic and all natural brand Yes Organics.
What tips do you have for reconnecting to yourself?
Kate: Give yourself a bit of time and space, and set your expectations as realistic. Pay attention to your body at times such as in the shower. Show your body care and attention with moisturise and touch.
Don’t expect things to be exactly as they were before but celebrate what your body has done and allow yourself a chance to get to know yourself in a new way.
Clitoral stimulation is the way that women most commonly experience sexual pleasure and orgasm. Focus on that and remind yourself that this area of your body is about more than just giving birth and everything that comes with it. Your body is also a source of pleasure and enjoyment.
Jessica: Bearing in mind the first 6 weeks that you are breastfeeding and looking after another human, it may be difficult to appreciate your new body. Which is why reconnecting to yourself is essential.
You may not have settled back into your own body enough to even fully know if you’re ready yet. Tune mindfully into the body with a simple body-scan, gently acknowledging yourself from head to toe. Really give yourself the space and time to listen to what your body is ready for.
Though it may be hard to get alone time, body-scanning and slow solo self-pleasure will benefit your wellbeing. Self pleasure is important for reconnecting with your own touch.
What tips do you have for reconnecting with a partner?
Kate: Talk about your expectations as a couple. The best sex lives are borne out of good communication and that’s even more important when you are also managing the needs of another person who is completely dependent on you.
The best way to reconnect with your partner and to improve your postpartum sex life is by paying attention to intimacy and connection. Allow sex and desire to grow out of that.
Make an effort to pay each other attention. Approach each other for kisses, touching and hugging. Allow sex to develop from there. Don’t expect it to feel the same or hope for it to be as it used to be. There will be a period of adjusting and that’s normal.
Jessica: Whether you are in a couple or in a polyamorous relationship with multiple partners, It’s essential to first form a relationship with yourself. Because you already have a new relationship with you baby, your new body, and your new sexual identity.
Ensuring the relationship with the self is still the number one, from there you can begin incorporating whoever else you are having a sexual relationship with. It’s a process of adapting to the situation.
It totally depends on your time and resources on what you can do as a couple whilst juggling a baby. Ideally you would have a couple of bodywork sessions before the birth, and then again after the birth.
There are many alternative ways to incorporate pleasure into your postpartum sex life to help you to stay connected as a couple through the process. This can include a full body massage, a squirting session, and new forms of touch. Using vibrators, like Crescendo, can be a nice segway into partner penetration while you are still in control.
When it comes to your breasts, postpartum may be the first non-sexual breast touching you’ve experienced, and you should know that it’s okay if it feels pleasurable. It’s also okay if you are tired of sexual breast touch and just making sure you communicate that to your partner.
Reconnect with your breasts in a new way with breast massage. Doctors advise this to avoid Mastitis – infection from clogging. But it can can also be a super pleasurable and intimate experience with a partner. Especially if you’re not quite ready for penetration.
Most importantly, listen to your own body.