For most women, sex after their six-week postpartum check-up is generally safe. But at this stage, many women do not want to entertain the idea of sex. Sleep deprivation and the fact that we may or may not have showered or brushed our teeth in days are just a couple of reasons we don’t feel sexy. Plus, while pregnancy is a blessing, it is not always the most comfortable endeavor and we all know how we got there. For many us, after pushing a tiny human out of your vagina, it can feel like the pathway has temporarily shifted to “exit only.” Regardless of when a doctor says sex can resume, it is a very individual choice as to when it actually does. These following steps will put you on the path to enjoying sex after baby!
- Wake up your pelvic floor muscles. It’s best to start here because the pelvic floor muscles,which are tired from supporting baby, are also responsible for orgasm and sexual satisfaction. Begin with breathing: sitting tall, inhale until the entire torso is full of your breath. This will stretch the diaphragm and the pelvic floor muscles. Then exhale completely feeling the muscles between the sit bones draw to center, and the lowest belly muscles hug in and draw up, to help press all of the air from the lungs. Stimulating the pelvic floor muscles in this way can also help with any post-baby “leaking” that might occur.
- Increase blood flow. When the bleeding has stopped, you can lie with your legs up the wall. This will help nourish your pelvic muscles and relax the nervous system. Place a yoga bolster, a folded towel or blanket about 2 palms distance away from a wall. Lie on your back with the support beneath the small of the back, the pelvis dropping into the space between the support and the wall, and the legs resting up the wall. If the hamstrings (the muscles at the back of the legs) are tight, bend your knees. Allow yourself to rest here for 5-10 minutes.
- Move your hips! Think Elvis’ hip circles but slow. This can be done in a number of ways. You can do this on all fours, standing or in a wide squat with the hands on knees. You just need to get those hips moving. You want to feel like the thighbones are just stirring in the hip sockets as the pelvis rotates around. This will stimulate all the muscles of the hips and pelvis and help to increase blood flow to the pelvis. Do 10 circles in each direction.
- Kegels done right! Kegels are a great way to strengthen the connection of the muscles of the pelvic floor that are responsible for sexual satisfaction and orgasm. To do them “right,” we can’t just work on the muscles that stop the flow of urine. We have to recruit all the muscles that lie between the 4 bones that frames the pelvic floor (the two sit bones, the pubic bone and the tailbone) and that interdigitate at the perineum. You can do Kegels in a seated position or lying down, with your knees bent and your feet planted hip-width distance apart. As you exercise, make sure to breathe deeply (as described above) to create good pelvic floor strength and flexibility. Here’s how:
Part 1. Sit in a simple cross-legged position. Inhale deeply, sensing into the muscles that lie between the two sit bones. Imagine each sit bone is an elevator door. As you exhale, draw these muscles toward one another, closing the elevator doors. As you inhale, the doors (re)open and release. Repeat for 4 rounds of breath.
Part 2. Now do the same thing with the pubic bone and the tailbone and imagine that they are the elevator doors. Exhale to draw the muscles toward one another, and inhale to release.
Part 3. On an exhale, draw all 4 points to center: the two sit bones, pubic bone and tailbone. Releasing on an inhale.
Part 4. When you feel like you can fully draw all 4 points to center closing the elevator doors, you attempt to lift the elevator up. With every exhale; you challenge how high you can lift the elevator, imagining that there are 2 floors from the pubic bone to your navel.
- Grab your lube! It’s like a desert up there. Doctors say that vaginal dryness is normal after the first few weeks after delivery, but don’t be surprised if the dryness goes on for much longer! This can make sex extremely uncomfortable and even painful. Especially for the first go at it, lube well -- yourself and your partner. Lube, lube, lube! There are many lubricant options, but many women I have talked with, myself included, have used coconut oil.
- Be Patient. Each pregnancy is different. You may be in the mood for sex two weeks after giving birth, but are forced to wait until the doctor’s go ahead. You may not feel up to sex for weeks past your OB’s ok. Either way, honor your body, be patient with yourself and communicate so that your partner understand how you are feeling and can be patient as well.
These few steps will take you on the path to better sex after baby! With the exercises to stretch and strengthen the pelvic floor and the increased blood flow to the area, you might find, like I did, that sex post baby is so much more satisfying than it ever was before!