They say everything changes once you have children, and they’re not wrong! You get less sleep (ok a lot less sleep), your routine goes haywire and the house resembles a cross between a toy shop, a junk shop, Tracey Emin’s bed art installment. You start bargaining with each other over ‘me time,’ who’s turn is it to change the poo-ey nappy and romantic evenings are replaced with crying children, bedtime stories and flopping exhaustedly on the sofa. It’s little wonder that sex and romance are often the last thing on your mind. I’ve teamed up with Adored.co.uk to provide a monthly series centered around sex and relationships after having children and in a long term relationship. I aim to provide advice, relevant product suggestions, talk about spicing up your love life and answer your questions! So if you have any issues, burning or otherwise, send me a message via my contact page, it can be anonymous if you like and I’ll answer in the next issue. A Bonus for the launch, is that they are giving you my lovely readers 15% off EVERYTHING until 1st July! Everything ordered comes in discreet packaging and billing, with free returns. Just use my code adoremw.
What qualifies me for this?
Well, I’ve been with my husband for 13 years through lots of ups and downs and we’ve managed to stay together and keep the spark going. We have 3 children together too so I know what it’s like having to juggle everything. I’m also a qualified Nurse with experience in Gynaecology, and a registered Midwife. I’m not a ‘sexpert’ by trade, but it’s an area I feel passionate about (ha ha), everyone deserves passion in their life, even if they think they no longer have a need for it anymore, there’s always room for intimacy, if not a full sexual relationship.
So, this first post is about going for it the first time after having a baby. After doing the first bowel movement which feels momentous enough, women then worry about having sex after childbirth. Even if you had an easy birth with no stitches, women worry about their vagina being loose, feeling different, losing sensation, looking different – add in stitches, worrying about healing, and then there’s contraception to think about, a new body shape and lacking confidence, it’s a whole new world. It often feels like losing your virginity again! A lot of women feel like they have to ‘get it over with’ as soon as possible, or get stuck putting it off, but it really shouldn’t be like that. The first time I did it after my first baby, I felt like I should get it done like an item on a checklist, I also wanted to double check everything was working ok so it felt pretty perfunctory! I learnt after that, and the next time I had a baby I took it slow and made sure it was quality. So here are my tips for you:
Make sure you’re physically ready
Medically, you should wait until all the bleeding has stopped from the birth, as you’re at risk of introducing infection otherwise. I think this is nature’s way of making sure you’re ready, as it can drag on for up to 6 weeks of light, on off bleeding once the initial heavy bleeding subsides. If you had stitches, they heal within about 4 weeks, depending on the severity of the tear or cut. The stitches are always dissolvable and usually dissolve within the first 2 weeks. After 3 weeks, if you’re still feeling discomfort or pain or if it just doesn’t feel (or look) right, contact your GP or Midwife. The vagina and perineum are designed to knit back together and can withstand a lot, we don’t give our bodies enough credit. There’s a reason the human race doesn’t stop at one child!
Feeling mentally in the zone
You’re knackered. You’re adjusting to becoming a parent and being solely responsible for a tiny human who you (most of the time) love beyond measure and the dynamics of your relationship changes. He’s no longer the main priority in your life and you feel like you’re stuck in the middle. Often you feel like you’ve nothing left to give in the day and you just retreat to your shell. Or, you have no more physical or mental energy left in the day. It’s important to try and find some time in the day just for you, whether it’s a cup of tea when the baby’s asleep, or a nice bubble bath when your partner comes home and he watches the baby. Try and really unwind, get them to take the baby out for a walk or drive so you can relax without hearing the baby cry. Then when he comes back, you’ll feel so much better and more likely to want to have sex.
Loving your new body after giving birth
Yes, you may have a saggy tummy, loose skin, stretch marks, a bit of extra weight, but they’re your battle scars, your proof of womanhood. Wear them with pride. Trust me, your partner will still want you, especially if he’s been on a barren stretch towards the end of pregnancy and the 6 week post birth period! He loves you whatever, and whatever you see as an issue will barely register on his radar. He sees you, the woman he loves, the mother of his child and trust me, he still desires you. Be confident, love your new shape, you know you can exercise and eat less when you’re ready if you want to lose a bit of weight, but unless you’re really lucky or have worked out continuously during pregnancy, for most of us, it’s a gradual process. Eat healthy foods and regularly, and keep hydrated, this will help your energy levels. Your breasts will often be bigger, even if you’re not breastfeeding – most men will have no complaints about this! If you don’t feel comfortable with involving your breasts in sex whilst you’re breastfeeding, invest in some great looking bras that you can keep on during sex, but they look more appealing than the big white nursing bra you’ve been wearing non stop since the birth! A lot of desire is in the visual and anticipation more than the physical. Tell him he can look and touch over the bra but not take it off, he’ll go mad, and you’ll feel amazing. If you want something to cover your tummy, try a babydoll style lingerie, a sheer fabric is alluring, again giving you confidence to veil any bits you’re not so proud of but still show off and feel sexy.
Getting in the mood
If you’ve been given a break, finally settled the baby, you feel physically ready but nervous, just start with some general intimacy, the most important thing is to talk to each other. Many women just avoid any physical contact wiht their partner in case they may want sex – tell him you want to take it slow, start by cuddles, kisses, massage and know it can end there. It will build from that. Take a look at the post I wrote ’15 ways to get in the mood when you’re a worn out parent,’ for some ideas. You may feel a bit worried about dryness or feeling uncomfortable during sex, if you use a good water based lubricant, this will help you feel more confident, and your partner will enjoy using it, believe me, it becomes part of the foreplay. This play massage lubricant by Durex is perfect, it’s soothing, and doubles as a massage gel and a lubricant that is safe everywhere, so you can start by getting him to massage you, you can massage him, if it turns into just pleasuring him (a happy ending massage!) – he’ll get a release and enjoyment, you’ll feel like you’ve made the first step, and you’re more likely to get more involved next time. If you make it to full intercourse or just pleasuring each other, you’ll both reap the benefits.
I hope this post has given you food for thought, any questions or comments, get in touch, I’d love to hear from you.