Everything is Different After Having a Baby...Including *Ahem* Down There.

Many women worry after a vaginal birth that what they’re experiencing is not normal, or that things like sex won’t feel the same again. Oftentimes they feel uncomfortable asking about it or choose not to talk about it because they’re embarrassed - and let’s face it, talking about healing from a vaginal birth isn’t exactly typical dinnertime conversation.

“Normal” after having a baby is relative, and every new mom's experience is different. But rest assured that what you’re experiencing is most likely normal. If you have concerns, it is always a good idea to check in with your care provider.

The vagina is an amazing muscle, biologically designed to accommodate the physical demands of delivering a baby. However, there are many other factors to consider that may impact how quickly you heal physically after birth, such as:

  • How long your labor lasted
  • How fast baby came through the birth canal
  • If forceps or vacuum were needed to assist the delivery
  • Whether your *perineum remained intact or if lacerations occurred, either by naturally tearing or via episiotomy. 

*Perineum refers to the area located between your vaginal opening and your anus

Nearly all women will experience some degree of soreness after delivery, as it is very intense for the tissue down there. You’ve also just put your body through intense physical stress for hours or possibly even days.

You have probably heard the saying,
"Labor and delivery is like running a marathon." 

This is true! Except this is a marathon you didn’t get to spend days, weeks, or months practicing and conditioning your body for. It is expected that you will be sore after the birth of your baby!

It is very normal for your vulva, vagina, and possibly even your anus to experience some swelling and/or bruising as everything down there has been stretched to its max during a vaginal birth. This soreness can last for a few days to a few weeks. 

But no worries-- Your body will heal. You can help it by resting, using ice (those frozen pads or ice diapers may have seemed silly at first, but trust us, they can be your best friend!), and if your provider recommends it, taking an anti-inflammatory and pain relief medication can make all the difference. 

As for sex? There really is no rhyme or reason for determining the best time once you have been cleared by your OB or midwife. Most care providers recommend waiting at least six weeks simply because it's important to ensure you’re fully healed. Waiting this length of time will allow swelling and bruising to go down as will also allow your perineum to heal if tearing occurred during delivery. Waiting will also reduce the risk of any infections.

Most importantly; you should wait until you feel comfortable and ready to begin having sex again. Once that time comes you can hop on over to our blog post for 8 Tips for Having Great Sex After Baby

Authored by: Trish Morfitt
Edited by: Kaity Klotzbach

8 Tips For Having Great Sex After Baby

1.  Wait. Or don’t. It is up to you!
You should follow your care provider’s instructions and wait at least 6 weeks after delivery (both vaginal and cesarean) to ensure you don’t cause any additional trauma to your incision or repairs to your perineum. But other than that, there’s no specific time when you * should * have sex again – it should just be when you feel comfortable enough to try.


2.  Try not to let insecurity get in the way.
Feeling comfortable again means different things for different women. Your lady parts or cesarean incision might be healed; but you might feel self-conscious about your stomach, your breasts, or your spit-up-covered-haven’t-showered-in-days hair. Cut yourself a little slack and own your postpartum body for everything magical it is and has done! If you feel more comfortable dimming the lights, that's always an option as well.


3.  Set the mood.
If you’ve hired one of our overnight postpartum and infant care doulas, you’ve already been getting sleep. If not, you might feel a little frazzled from caring for your baby all day…and all night. Either way, take some time to get in the mood however you like best. Put on some music, light some candles, draw a bath, pour a glass of your favorite wine, or swap neck and shoulder massages with your partner.


4.  Protection.
You just had a baby, and while some couples want babies close together, the first time you have sex after your new baby is probably not the best time to get pregnant again – but it happens! Just because you might not have a regular period yet doesn’t mean you can’t ovulate. If you haven’t talked about birth control with your care provider, it's a good idea to make sure you have a barrier method on hand.


5.  Lube, Lube, Lube...and More Lube.
Hormone changes in your body can make your body’s natural response to arousal happen differently than it has in the past. Using lubrication can help things go smoothly.


6.  Take the advice of Prince – ♫ tonight is the night for making slow love ♫.
Take it slooooow when you have sex the first time post baby. This isn’t the time for a quickie. Give your body a chance to adjust, and try out different positions if you’re uncomfortable.


7.  Don’t set expectations.
Sex the first time after baby might be painless, magical and amazing! On the other hand, it's possible that it might be painful, making it stressful and frustrating. Taking things one step at a time and making sure you’re comfortable is important so you are able to stay relaxed and so sex continues to be fun. Don’t feel discouraged if things don’t go the way you anticipated because…{see number 8}…


8.  Sex isn’t always defined the same.
There are plenty of ways you can be intimate with your partner that do not involve traditional “sex.” If you’re not feeling it, find something you ARE feeling that you can both enjoy and can agree on!

Authored by: Trish Morfitt
Edited by: Kaity Klotzbach

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