Sex after birth- grin and bear it?
30 March 2012, 11:29
Should new mums rush to restore their sex lives, or wait until they’re ready?
Women should ‘grin and bear it’ and start having sex as soon as possible after giving birth, says Gina Ford’s latest parenting book, The Contented Mother’s Guide. Is she right?
• Gina Ford says that men can feel ‘emotionally closed out’ because of a lack of intimacy after the birth of a baby
• She writes that parents need to get ‘that side of life’ back as soon as possible
• In a section of the book dedicated to sharing advice from other women one mother says that, if they have to, women should ‘grin and bear it’
• Ford suggests arming yourself with ‘post-birth essentials such as massage oil’ and taking things slowly
• If all else fails, you can always have a glass of wine to get you in the mood
• Luckily she’s found most men to be ‘pretty patient’, she adds
Not everyone agrees!
But Patty Brisben, author, sex educator and founder of Pure Romance is shocked by this advice. She says that every couple is different and that there is no such thing as the ‘right time’ to have sex after your baby is born.
• ‘If a woman feels pressure to be intimate before she’s ready, this will do far more damage to a relationship than good,’ she says
• New mothers need time to recover from childbirth, which is a traumatic experience for the body. At the same time, women need to adapt emotionally to the new demands they face as mothers
• New moms are also often exhausted and simply don’t feel sexy – they need time to adjust to their ‘new’ bodies and may lack confidence
• Kegel exercises can help speed up the healing process while strengthening the pelvic floor muscles, which has been found to make women more orgasmic
• ‘Easing into intimacy is definitely the way to go. If you need to take it slowly, that’s fine,’ Brisben says.
• Using lubricant can make sex more comfortable, too
Different situations call for varied responses
Experts agree. Research published in the Journal of Family Practice found that only half of the women reviewed were intimate with their partners between five and seven weeks after birth.
• One reason for this is that women might be in pain, especially after an episiotomy, long labour or a difficult birth
• Another reason is low levels of oestrogen after giving birth. Oestrogen levels stay low as long as you breastfeed, and this causes vaginal dryness. Without lubricant, sex can be painful
• When it comes to women who haves caesareans, they should wait between eight and 12 weeks before having sex
• Otherwise, six weeks is the timeframe most ob-gyns typically agree on
When you do start feeling ready for intimacy after birth there are a few things you can do to help you ease back into it.
• Be gentle and build up to sex slowly. Concentrate on kissing, caressing and touching before moving on to more sensual touch
• Avoid penetration until you’re ready and, when you are, be sure to use a safe, gentle lubricant
• Be careful to choose a position that’s comfortable for you