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When can we have sex? 

I wanted to share a quote from a community member that’s in the book The Fourth Trimester. “I would sometimes have to choose between sleep and sex.” I share this because the statement sheds some light on the focus of this blog. After pregnancy and giving birth to a child or children it may feel like your entire world has been flipped upside down- experiencing changes related to your body, mentality, and everyday life.

Days are filled with focusing on raising a newborn or newborns, which may mean all the priorities you held before pregnancy and delivery have completely changed. The dynamic of your personal, romantic relationship, sex life, and family are different. There are pressures that you may be experiencing from your partner, yourself, and your body related to sex. 

Body, Mind, Sex   

A question you may be asking yourself (or asked by your partner) is, when can we have sex? I think it’s important to remind yourself and your partner that the journey of pregnancy and delivery looks and feels different for everyone.

After bringing your child or children into the world, the truth is that you are a different person than you were before! Your body is different, your mentality has changed, and you may have different needs and desires than you did pre-pregnancy. And that’s okay! So, let’s talk about how your physical and mentality may have changed and is related to the experience of having sex after delivery. 

It just doesn’t feel “right”   

As I mentioned above, each person’s pregnancy and delivery are uniquely yours. With that said, the birth may have impacted what sex looks like for you after delivery. There may be scar tissue, a tear that you experienced, sensitive tissue and a birth injury. All these experiences could impact your arousal and ability to engage in penetration and could even lead to painful penetration. 

And let’s not forget about what you are experiencing with your hormones. Your body’s hormones are in the process of readapting to where they were before pregnancy- this may lessen your sex drive and sexual response. Your hormones may also be telling you that the bond you are creating with your newborn(s) are the priority, leaving little or maybe no room left for bonding with your partner. Low estrogen levels may also play a role resulting in the vaginal skin to feel thin and sensitive. Lastly, if you do choose to breastfeed- this takes a lot of fluids from your body naturally, there may be a lack of fluid being produced that leads to decrease or no natural vaginal lubrication. 

All the physical experiences you may be having may be daunting and stressful and feeling like you cannot even think about having sex. This is so valid, and you are not alone. The truth is that sex should not be painful. If you are experiencing pain, please reach out to us for resources and your doctor. 

 Not being able to even think about Sex 

Not only are you experiencing the physical changes that come after delivery that may be impacting your sex life- the mental challenges and experiences may be even more overwhelming! You are most likely thinking about when the next time you are going to be able to sleep or have a meal is going to be, because quite frankly you have your hands full! When you do start to think about having sex, your mind my start throwing things your way that you just do not know how to handle. 

Having sex after delivering may seem really daunting for you. You may be feeling anxious about the entire situation (again totally valid). When we are experiencing anxiety or stress it has this twisted way of bringing even more awareness to what we are uncomfortable or nervous about. Check out some of the other blogs on our page that are related to how anxiety and stress impact sex. You could be feeling anxious about your body image- whether it is feeling unattractive or self-conscious. You may also be experiencing postpartum depression, maybe you do not feel as happy about your newborn(s) as you think you should (you are not alone in this experience). This can certainly have an impact on your interest in having sex after giving birth. 

The partner relationship changes

Your relationship dynamic with your partner has also completely changed. You have literally brought an entire new person or persons into your family- so the roles are going to change along with that. With this, you or your partner might start feeling resentment.

It may be that one of you is getting more sleep than the other, or that one of you feel that you aren’t getting enough attention due to your newborn. Both of you also may have different feelings and level of interest in engaging in sex. And let’s not forget that you are both most likely exhausted!  

Moving towards Intimacy & Sex 

I think when people think of sex it’s easy to jump to the thought that penetration is the only form of sex, and this is just not true. The physical and mental challenges that have been shared in this blog can lead to penetration being the last thing that you want to engage in. If you are feeling that you and your partner are disconnected and lacking intimacy because of your experience with your newborn, there are some suggestions.

First, do not rush things. Like I’ve mentioned, you and your partners experience with your newborn(s) is uniquely yours, you may not be ready and that is okay. I also think it’s important for your relationship to acknowledge that there has been a change to the dynamic! You both are not the same people you were before your child or children entered your life.

Connect with one another even if it is for a minute or five minutes in one day- it could be sharing eye contact or giving each other a hug. Communicate your needs and your experiences and talk about what sex looks like now versus what it looked like pre-pregnancy. 

I also acknowledge that the tips provided above are a lot easier said than done! If you, your partner, or both of you feel that you need help in this area please do not hesitate to reach out. We are here to support you and provide resources for your needs. 

How can we support you?

Postpartum changes do not have to rule your life, or effect you sexually long-term. You deserve to enjoy your new stage of life without the burden of long-term postpartum effects. Let us know how you care for yourself, and how we can help support you! 

1. Contact Emma Schmidt and Associates to request a free Counseling consultation.

2. Meet with a skilled therapist for Counseling through our HIPAA compliant platform.

3. Begin online Counseling and begin your journey towards mental wellness, health, and happiness.

Other Services Offered at Emma Schmidt and Associates:

More to check out…

The therapists at Emma Schmidt and Associates are skilled relationship and sex therapists. However, that’s not the only mental health service they offer. Our therapists treat general mental health and relationship concerns. We offer anxiety treatment, depression treatment, trauma and PTSD treatment, EMDR, and relationship and couples therapy. In addition to offering online therapy in Ohio, we also offer online therapy in Kentucky, and online therapy in Indiana. Contact our office to learn more about the many ways our team of skilled clinicians can help you thrive.

Follow Holli Erkson:

Counseling Psychologist

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