At my 6 week appointment I asked my doctor if I was allowed to have…
This article is PG/PG13 in terms of sexiness, and nothing graphic, so you don’t need to be nervous. But you can be if you need to be! I promise this is a safe space. So that we are all on the same page, a friendly reminder that I am not a doctor or therapist. These are insights I am sharing as divorced, remarried mom of one who learned a lot about sex by having none of it during my first marriage and then having a whole bunch of it after that.
Reapproaching sex and physical intimacy after a baby has made their way out of your body and is now hanging on you all day every day is really hard. You’re still processing what just happened. You’re still finding your footing with feeding, sleeping, and keeping yourself fed and rested too. You’re still healing!
And by the time your 6 week visit rolls around– when you’re usually cleared to bring the sexy back– one of the last things you want to think about is putting anything in, near, or around your vagina again. For lots of reasons…
You might feel awkward in your body.
You might feel unsure about what goes where.
Your hormones are likely all over the place.
And self-consciously wondering… Does my partner even want to be intimate with me? Do I want to be intimate with them? Will I ever feel ready to have sex?
It might feel like you’re starting over sexually. Like a virgin teenager, but in adult form. And that makes sense because your body and your brain have shifted — you, mama, are in the midst of adult adolescence, a.k.a. Matrescence. You are a new person.
It’s normal and natural for us to navigate the same insecurities, fears of rejection, or worries that our boobs or vulvas are “weird” that we battled then! We are getting to know ourselves, what we like, what we don’t like, how we feel, what we need.
So don’t be surprised if being intimate postpartum feels like when you first started having sex: clumsy, hesitant, confusing.
Am I making enough noise?
Am I making too much noise?
Is my (insert anything) normal? Or weird?
What if I fart? Or queef? Or pee?
AM I GOING TO PEE ON MY PARTNER?!
We don’t know how to talk about any of these things, when to talk about them, how or what to feel. And just like when we were horny teenagers, with time and experience we grew more comfortable with ourselves. And how we show up in sexual interactions. What we like and what we don’t. What we know and what we want to know. This is what has a huge impact on the quality of our sexual experiences. And it’s the same now.
Let’s use our past experiences and make different mistakes this time.
Start with the conversations you wished you’d had about being ready for intercourse. When and where it will happen and what birth control method will be used. Be vulnerable and communicate your desires, needs, and fears to your partner.
Also be clear on what you’re comfortable with — because the truth is, sex doesn’t have to involve penetration. Sex is one way to physically activate and charge your connection, trust, and commitment to your partner. And it’s that intimacy we want to nurture.
Before we dive in any deeper (see what I did there?) I want to make some important distinctions. This is the stuff they didn’t talk about in health class.
Sex is sexual activites which includes intercourse.
Intercourse is when the P goes in the V.
Penetration is when something goes inside something else.
INTIMACY is emotional or physical closeness with someone you care about. It grows over time and includes love and trust and security and safety and all of those delicious warm and fuzzy feelings.
Most women are not ready for intercourse or penetration at six weeks postpartum. I’ll say it again. Most women are NOT ready to resume penetrative P in the V, or anything in the V, at the six week mark. Some, not all, may be interested in physical intimacy and sexual activities, but not want to be penetrated.
You know what’s awesome? You do NOT have to have sex any time you don’t want to.
And while you may not have felt this empowered when we first started having sex, it is possible now. It is possible to feel empowered, informed, and embodied as you find intimacy in motherhood.
Instead of expecting yourself to show up as your old self, what if you started at the beginning? Here are three tips to help you.
(1) Embrace this opportunity to explore new possibilities.
Make out! Do over the clothes boob stuff! Dry hump!
Let’s bring back light and heavy petting for goodness sake!
Communicate early and often about what limits you want to set.
I.e. Ok, no boob stuff tonight but let’s do some under the pants stuff. Nothing inside. If this goes well, maybe tomorrow we can try one finger inside. Only one finger.
Giggle and be silly. Sex (remember that doesn’t necessarily mean penetration) can be fun.
(2) Be vulnerable together.
Share your fears and worries. Hold hands and open up about what feels hard about being a parent and what feels exciting. Tell each other what you love about the other as a person, a parent, and a partner. What you admire, respect, and appreciate.
Instead of getting defensive when your partner mentions they don’t necessarily love having a baby and reacting, admit the things you hate too. It’s hard! We don’t have to or pretend to love every single second. BE TOGETHER in the hard stuff.
(3) Also, for real, flirt with each other.
By flirting I mean compliments, a kiss that’s just a little longer than usual with nothing else attached, a light pat on the tush, whatever your thing is.
This helps you connect to that intimate, sensual part of you that is very much still inside you. She may be hiding behind a lot of mom stuff, but she’s there. The context switch from mom to vixen is rough. And if you set the energetic tone of flirtation, you’re giving your mind and body a chance to get on the same page.
None of these things will necessarily erase the nerves, fears, or anxieties around sexual intimacy after becoming a mother. They can, however, ground you in the purpose and significance of intimacy and what that means to you. As a mother. And as a couple.
You are together in this experience.
Esther Perel says flirting and foreplay begins after your last orgasm. And it may have been a while, but… get to it!
If this resonates with you, I encourage you to share this with your partner. It may be the perfect conversation starter.
Finally, remember that you are an adult teenager. And all those times you’ve said ”If I knew then what I know now…” well, you know them now and you get to make new choices. Empowered choices. Be as kind, curious, and gentle with yourself as you wish your HS lover had been 😉