Having a baby is one of the most overwhelming experiences in life. This event disrupts not only the body of a woman but also the couple, and often the couple’s sex life. What is intimate life like for young parents? What changes and what does not change? At what pace should you get back to an active sex life as young parents? And above all, how to live this transition in the most fulfilling way possible? Here are some tips and information to help you in this extraordinary time.
Having a baby: a truly extra-ordinary period
Pregnancy and childbirth carry with them major changes, especially for a woman’s body. It is no longer the same, first at the physical level: wider hips, more relaxed perineum, weight gain, as many physiological changes that are important to take into account. The woman’s body also undergoes significant hormonal upheaval: in the first months of a baby’s life, their mother is programmed to consider her maternity as the first priority.
Finally, the dynamics of the couple itself has impacted, whether it is a first child or not: whatever the family configuration, it is affected with the arrival of a new being. This little ecosystem must then take the time to find its new balance. And so does the couple. Ignoring these realities and trying to go back to a sexuality “as before” right after childbirth is often counterproductive.
Reconnect to your body
Childbirth is a very personal experience, and the consequences on the woman’s body can be minimal or maximal depending on the cases. Some women are ready to run a marathon two days later, while others whose has suffered more really need time to rest and recover. It is very important to take into account these parameters, particularly in the case of c-section or episiotomy, and to respect the doctor’s instructions, whom should be be regularly consulted.
Paying attention to your body often makes it possible to accelerate convalescence. More than that, taking into account and respecting the limits of one’s body is absolutely necessary to avoid entering a vicious circle where the sexual relation is lived like a moment of pain, at the risk of seeing desire plummet. Respecting your limits and your body is the best way to quickly rekindle a fulfilling sex life.
It’s a not a race!
Respecting one’s body also means respecting one’s rhythm. It is really important to go smoothly and focus only on pleasant practices/areas that feel good so that the desire memory will build pleasant experiences after giving birth. The desire can then feed on these pleasant memories to restart your sex life more easily.
For example, start with intimate moments of sharing, hugs, then massages. To do this, put in place solutions to let the newcomer in the hands of someone you trust. This allows you to breathe, and to live a moment as a couple. Indeed, beyond the purely sexual aspect, the couple needs, during this overwhelming time, to give itself moments where the relationship is the priority.
Talking is key
In any case, whether it is fluid or not, discussing it remains the best way to avoid frustration to grow for one of the partners, and to prevent crises in the couple that are often exacerbated by exhaustion.
But the manner you discuss it matters. It is very important not to be in an accusing mode, and allow for both partners to share their feelings. Some tips: speak using “I”, to express your feelings rather than judgments, and to try to build solutions together.
Do the post-natal physiotherapy
Despite exhaustion, and even if desire is lacking, motivate yourself to do the physiotherapy sessions that your gynaecologist has prescribed. If he or she has not done so, ask for it, if only to go for a check-up of your perineum. As you certainly know, the perineum plays an important role in the quality of a woman’s sexuality. This is one of the most used muscles during childbirth. It is therefore very important to control it tonicity after delivery and to do the exercises prescribed by the physiotherapist to strengthen it if necessary.
Written by Charlotte Creplet, sex therapist at Sexocorner