“It’s about finding intimacy again. It takes energy and focus, and that’s not usually where you’re at postnatally,” says sex and relationship therapist Rachel Foux.
Kent mum Lisamarie Lamb, 29, initially found sex uncomfortable after her caesarean. “It was a shock,” she says, “to get to the stage where you’re comfortable to have sex again only to find that it is physically impossible.”
Lisa talked through her worries with her partner, and they worked around their problems. “It’s taken six months to get back to normal, and it’s down to an understanding husband who let me lead the way. Don’t feel shy about telling your partner the problem – tension will make things worse.”
Flexibility and foresight are key here. “Night feeds and early waking make it difficult to find the time and space for sex,” says GP Catherine Hood, who specialises in post-pregnancy sex.
“Meet up for sex when the children are in childcare or during the baby’s nap. It may seem contrived, but it’s a practical way to keep your sex life going.”
And Catherine advises sorting out contraception sooner rather than later. “You can fall pregnant almost immediately after giving birth,” she says. “Fear of having another baby too soon can put a brake on your sex life. So removing this anxiety can help kick-start your libido.”
Don’t worry about loss of libido
As things settle he’ll be champing at the bedroom bit while all you can think about is sleep, right? Think again.
“Women will feel horny too!” says Rachel. “Especially if you’re not breastfeeding.” But whether breastfeeding has you gagging for it or gagging at the thought of it is not so cut and dried, according to midwife Anne Richley.
“Prolactin, the hormone needed for producing milk, can reduce libido,” she explains. “But breastfeeding also produces oxytocin, the love hormone, so some women find that they have an increased sex drive.”
Tears and dryness
The rigours of giving birth can leave their mark, leading to dryness or soreness during sex. But these problems can be overcome.
“The best way to see if your tears are healing is to check your vagina with a mirror,” says Rachel, “but if you’re not keen, ask the GP to do this.”
“A drop in hormones after birth mean that some women notice their vagina is drier when it comes to sex, and they may need to use a lubricant,” says Anne, “but your hormones will return to normal eventually.”
Will I still have an orgasm?
“This can take more time,” says Rachel. “It’s stressful being on call, 24 hours a day as a mum, so letting go enough to climax can be overwhelming.”
Take it easy, and try other ways to have an orgasm than penetration, like masturbation or getting your partner to pleasure you. The good news is that some women find it’s actually easier to have an orgasm after becoming a mum. Yippee!