Clinically, most doctors will “clear” you to have sex 6 weeks after having a baby. That creates pressure for women – and can make us feel as though our partners are waiting eagerly, ready to have sex the moment that doctor appointment is over.
Here’s the reality. It is absolutely okay if you’re not in the mood. It is absolutely okay if you don’t feel physically or mentally ready to be intimate again. You *just* birthed a child – a process that took you almost 10 months to nurture, grow, care for, and disconnect from your being. You should not feel “less than” or “not whole” if you’re simply not ready.
So why does society put so much pressure on this topic? And how will you know when you’re ready? Below are some thought-starters as you begin your journey back to intimacy.
1. Ask yourself if you want to be in the mood. If that answer is no, give yourself more time. It is okay to take 8, 10, 12 weeks in your entire life to not be sexually active – context is everything. However, if you do want to become intimate again, read on.
2. Determine your biggest blocks. Ask yourself what the biggest reason for not being in the mood is – lack of sleep or concern around enjoying the act post-baby?
**Lack of sleep. If you’re exhausted like most new parents, think about when you feel your best during the day. It could be right after a mid-afternoon nap with baby. It could be the early hours of the morning after you pump. Whenever it is, tell your partner. So when your mood strikes next, your partner will be understanding.
**Concern around enjoyment. Will it feel different? What if it’s too much physical pressure down there? If you’re concerned about orgasm or enjoying sex again, think about taking the pressure off. You’re imagining the worst, so focus on being in the moment, regardless of outcome.
3. Focus on yourself. Talk to your partner about your concerns, and then work to focus on your own outcomes and make sure you’re comfortable.
4. Lubricate. It’s likely that your hormones are still stabilizing. And that means you’ll likely need some support for dryness. Know what works for you and have it handy for when the mood kicks in.
5. Know it’s a journey. Sex may not be back exactly as before, but it will happen over time. Think of things to continue to make it better and support all senses – smell, sound, sight, touch, and taste. It may be the same things that worked for you pre-baby, or they may be different.
Dr. Lyndsey Harper, MD, OBGYN asserts, “Readiness for sex after baby is so much more than just the “all clear” from your doctor or midwife at the 6-week check-up. Because there are so many considerations with postpartum sex, it is important to listen to your body, communicate openly with your partner, and be open to expressing sexual needs in new ways. Your new sex life might not look like your pre-baby one, but with patience, intention (and some sleep!), you will stay on course to an even richer and more fulfilling sex life with yourself and your partner.”