10 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT SEX IF YOUR PARTNER'S JUST GIVEN BIRTH
It's not going to be a top priority, for a start...
Sex. If there’s a newborn in the house, it’s a safe bet you’re not getting any.
If you’re not the mother, it’s also a fairly safe bet you’re wondering when you will be getting any, writes Andrew Westbrook. You’re keen, after all, to show the love of your life that she still oozes sex appeal. That’s your only motivation, right? We’ll go with that.
The simple answer, says the NHS, is that there’s no golden rule. Some couples will be back down to business within weeks, while for many it might take months or even a year or more.
She may want to have sex again (or at least try a sexy sex alternative), but there are also many reasons why sex is not a top priority either. Here are 10 of them...
- Birth might be one of life’s wondrous moments, but it sure leaves a trail of destruction in its wake, with the downstairs department taking the brunt of the blows. As well as feeling generally beaten up and exhausted, most women will endure some degree of tearing or need an episiotomy, which can take some time to heal.
- If the birth was by c-section, you might be thinking the critical area dodged a bullet. And you’d be right. But it’s still a major surgical procedure that demands plenty of recovery time (the NHS suggests about six weeks on average), before trying anything too vigorous.
- Vampires aside, blood isn’t generally deemed a go-to aphrodisiac, but lochia, or bleeding, tends to continue for a week or two after the birth. As a result, new mums have the joy of wearing sanitary towels the size of mattresses. Cue the lovely phrase ‘bloody discharge’ mixed with giant pants – exactly the sort of winning combination that makes sex a tough sell for all involved.
- Even once your partner’s external cuts and bruises have healed, that’s not to say her body is still not recovering. Pelvic floor muscles take a battering during pregnancy and labour. This can make sex painful for months after the birth, as the muscles tighten as a guard reflex to prevent further damage.
- A new mother’s body isn’t just getting over the birth, it’s also adjusting to her new role – hormonal changes are running riot for at least the first few days and potentially much longer. That means a rollercoaster of anxiety, euphoria, tearfulness and everything in between. Added to this funpark can be body confidence issues, thanks to things like weight gain, stretch marks and the fact she may not be able to exercise.
- If your partner is breastfeeding, that hormonal ride is going nowhere fast. As well as feeling physically uncomfortable due to heavy boobs and sore nipples, she may also be feeling the emotional strain of her body having become a round-the-clock milk machine. Similarly, your partner’s testosterone and oestrogen levels will both be falling. This can mean a drop in libido and clitoral sensitivity, as well as problems with lubrication.
- So, she’s feeling recovered, the baby’s asleep and the hormones are having the night off. Could it be nookie night? Think again. Looking after a newborn is an exhausting 24/7 job and fatigue has a hugely detrimental effect on libido. Seizing any opportunity to snooze can feel like a matter of survival, while if there’s too much on her mind to sleep, a few minutes of dead-eyed scrolling through Facebook is likely to trump a quick shake of the sheets.
- And don’t forget the elephant in the room or, rather, the teeny-tiny new baby. While families have shared rooms and enjoyed healthy sex lives since time immemorial – and still do in many parts of the world – there’s no getting away from the fact that shagging while your newborn snoozes in the same room can feel weird, no matter how irrational that may be.
- Even is there’s no longer any physical or psychological issues at play, don’t get too excited yet. Before getting your sex life back, you’ll need one vital component – time. Unfortunately, all new parents tend to be paupers when it comes to this precious resource. Between the endless tidying, cleaning, washing, visitors and thank-you cards – not to mention actually looking after the baby – sex never quite makes it to the to-do list.
- There is one last thing to consider. The sequel. Immediately getting pregnant again is unlikely to be near the top of your partner’s agenda, but it’s very much a possibility even just after giving birth and while breastfeeding. So, if you’re not sure if you’ve quite mastered the parenting lark just yet, imagine what it would be like also dealing with a second baby in nine months’ time. Still feeling frisky?