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As we push to normalize this topic of postpartum sex, we spent some time with Certified Sexual Health Educator, Liz Martin, to bring you some tips to make this easier and more enjoyable. We hear from moms all the time that they struggle with feeling sexy and not wanting to be touched after having a baby, which isn't healthy for anyone.
A lot of times, we have trouble wanting to bring this up to our doctors. We have our postpartum appointment at six weeks and that's it. There are so many other things going on and if you bring this conversation up about sex, it is brushed off. Having a glass of wine is not the solution to our problem.
When you think about birthing a baby, positive or not, most moms would agree there is pain associated with birth. We just went through this experience, it is hard for our brain to switch back to thinking of our female parts as pleasurable. Your brain holds onto trauma for a really long time, even with a positive birth experience. Not only are you physically healing after having a baby, but your brain is healing as well. Your brain may need retrained as to what pleasure is. Having a quick moment with your partner that includes a back rub is something that can help remind your brain what feels pleasurable.
Physical pleasure is a big piece of this too. When we are experiencing any type of physical pleasure, it sends chemicals to your brain to label a certain act as pleasurable. Like when you are nursing your baby or smelling their hair, it sends chemicals to your brain that this act is pleasurable.
Whether we accept it or not, everything is different with our bodies after we have a baby, especially when it comes to areas of our bodies that may have felt vulnerable before. From a young age, we are taught what the "swimsuit zone” is and what is safe to touch. Through pregnancy and especially after, our bodies are touched in ways we may not be prepared for. It is important to talk through these things with your healthcare provider so you are prepared, especially if you have had sexual trauma in the past. Also, after having a baby, some ways you were touched before may not feel safe or acceptable. It is important to re-establish consent with your partner about what feels good and what you are comfortable with.
If you don't feel comfortable talking to your healthcare provider about this, here are a few tips to help you through it. The first is to establish what your hard "yes’s” and "no's" are. Writing this down and having it there with you can help. If you have connected with a nurse or someone else in the practice besides your OB, you can talk to them. It also might be worth seeking a provider that you feel more comfortable with.
You also may not feel comfortable talking to your partner about this. First of all, it is important to have this conversation when things are calm. It is also helpful to have a neutral third party involved to help navigate the conversation. You can set the stage for the conversation by saying "I'd like to talk to you about something".
Another thing that is overlooked in the postpartum stage is lubricant. Our hormones are all over the place, whether you are breastfeeding or not. What all of these changes are doing in your body is making sure you don’t have another baby. Lubricant is totally normal! It is only going to enhance your experience and make sure you don't experience pain. Lubricant can also protect the walls of the vagina from tearing as you are healing from childbirth. You can start with a water-based lubricant that is pH-balanced without scent or flavor.
Liz Martin is the Founder of Empower the Talk. She focuses on sexual health in all stages of life. She educates woman about sexual health and pleasure and how to make this a priority for you. Her background is in social work and now she uses that experience as a social worker to help moms make themselves a priority.
Watch our live conversation below!