There isn't a lot of especially nuanced, honest information about the, ahem, ins and outs of what it's like for women to have sex for the first time after delivering a baby. And what is available generally hews to a stale, overly-simplified storyline -- namely, that new moms never want to have sex, and when they do, it's terrible.
But new parents do, of course, have sex again, and it feels completely different to all of them, from eek! to aaaah and a million variations thereof. Here, 10 women reveal what their first post-childbirth intercourse outing was really like:
"I kept thinking, 'A baby came out of my vagina, and now my husband wants to put his penis in there?!'"
The first time after my first child was extremely awkward. We were very excited when we got the all-clear from my OB six weeks postpartum, but once we started having sex I kept thinking, A baby just came out of my vagina, and now my husband wants to put his penis in there?! My baby was naked and on top of me after that last push, and now my husband is naked on top of me. I immediately told him to stop. He thought I was in pain, but that wasn't the reason. It all just brought me back to the delivery room and made me think about how differently I saw my body. I was a mom. My breasts weren't for sexual pleasure; they were for breastfeeding (or in our case, exclusively pumping). My skin was for providing warmth and comfort for my child. I pushed a baby out of my vagina. Now my body was supposed to be used for sex, too?
I talked about this all with my husband, and he was very understanding with me. We put our clothes back on, and he just held me. It took two or three more tries before we were both able to enjoy sex again. -- Diane, 28
"The angles of my body seemed ... off. "
We waited until we got the go-ahead after my C-section, and I was definitely looking forward to something being normal again. Everything had been so centered on the baby. But just like the birth didn't go the way I'd hoped, and breastfeeding was harder than I'd thought, sex was so different. It hurt, and there was more dryness than I expected. The angles of my body seemed ... off.
Looking back, I think it was just changes in my weight and swelling in my vaginal area, but at the time I honestly wondered if my C-section had re-arranged things. In my postpartum haze, I really thought, OK. Maybe it's just always going to be painful and different now. And I remember thinking, how are we ever going to have another baby now that I hate sex?! Eventually, though, we remembered there were other ways to be intimate and close, like, just taking a shower together. We were patient, and it all started to work again. -- Alexandria, 36
"It was amazing. So amazing, we got pregnant again."
It was amazing. So amazing, we got pregnant again.
After my first baby, we waited the six weeks and as soon as my husband and I got cleared by my doctor we started making love again. It was very mutual. After we put the baby to bed, my husband said I looked really pretty -- and that's all it took! I was expecting it to be like losing my virginity again, pain-wise, and for there to be this uncomfortable pressure, because that's what everything I read said. It wasn't. It was like riding a bike. Just feeling that closeness to my husband, and connecting with him again in that way was incredible. Yes, I orgasmed. -- Sarah, 27
"I remember it feeling kind of like a sharp Hot Pocket was being inserted into my vagina."
My first baby was removed with forceps, and at my 10-week checkup, my archaic OB told me to have some wine and relax -- sex would be fine. But everything hurt. Sitting was terrible. Standing was terrible. At that postpartum checkup, the doctor inserted a speculum and I thought I was going to die.
When we did have sex, I remember it feeling kind of like a sharp Hot Pocket was being inserted into my vagina. It sucked. It hurt. Nothing about that area wanted to be messed with. We used substantial lubrication, and my husband was patient, but it took close to a year for the ache to go away. -- Anne, 41
"We had to say to each other, 'This is safe ... it's OK for us to have our time back.'"
When our son was only two weeks old, he was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. We were completely shocked, so at first we were just taking care of him and processing this huge change. When I was four weeks postpartum, we spoke with a fertility doctor to make sure we understood what our chances were [of having another child with cystic fibrosis]. We made a decision that if we had more children, we'd do it via IVF so we could do genetic testing. It wasn't until after all of that that I finally felt like, OK. I think it's safe to have sex. But we still had to talk through it. We had to say to each other, "This is safe. It's going to be OK. And it's OK for us to have our time back." The sex, that first time, was really emotional. It felt like such a relief to have that part of our relationship restored, and to know my husband wasn't scared of me -- even after knowing a big baby came out of there, and everything we'd been through. -- S, 35
"I'm a family physician, so I understand how the body changes postpartum, but I was still surprised."
I have two children, and the youngest is 12 weeks. With my first, the whole leave was kind of a romantic time. We were cuddling, we were handsier with each other, so I thought, We're going to have sex and it's going to be awesome. It wasn't. I'm a family physician, so I understand how the body changes postpartum, but I was still surprised. Everything took longer for me. It took longer for me to get aroused when we kissed. When we were getting intimate, it felt hard for me to orgasm. I felt like my breasts were off limits, because I was breastfeeding, so that was a big part of our sexual relationship that was off the table. My vagina was a bit dryer, so we had to use lubrication, and that's not that romantic [laughs].
Expectations are tricky at any time, but with my second at least I know that our old routine might not work, and that we might not have a super-satisfying sexual encounter right out of the gate. That doesn't mean I'm never going to orgasm again. -- M, 38
"It was the first time I could catch up on sleep."
It was the first time I could catch up on sleep since the delivery. Don't tell my husband! I had not slept in three months. I was actually looking forward to it, and my husband went all-out. He made a nice dinner. He was excited. But I was so tired, I don't even know how long it took. -- Lisa, 42
"Throughout it, I was looking in the other direction -- at where my baby was sleeping."
We had sex for the first time about a month and a half after my baby was born, and throughout it I was looking in the other direction -- at where my baby was sleeping. I thought I would be OK having the baby in the same room, so we could keep an eye on her and take as much time as we wanted. But I couldn't enjoy it. My eyes were constantly on her, thinking, please don't wake up; please don't feel cold; please don't start rolling all of a sudden. My body was doing one thing, but my mind was completely on her. After a couple of attempts, we decided to do it in the other room. -- Surabhi, 34
"I knew the first couple of times would be painful, but I did not expect to experience discomfort for that long."
Sex the first few times post-delivery was terrifying for me, like I was re-experiencing the emotional trauma of childbirth. I felt the same kind of suspense and fear of the unknown I felt when having the baby. It felt so destructive to be inviting something into my body at the same point where my beautiful baby girl had just come out of eight weeks earlier. Physically, it was painful around my G-spot until very recently, so for about a year. I knew the first couple of times would be painful, but I did not expect to experience discomfort for that long. -- Erica, 31
"We had sex two-and-a-half weeks after my son was born ... I wanted to!"
We had sex two and a half weeks after my son was born, and two weeks after my daughter. I wanted to! It was soon after giving birth, but I didn't feel uncomfortable. I wasn't bleeding anymore (and I wasn't wearing pads) and I wasn't in pain. I felt I was actually feeling much closer to just being me than I had in a long time. It didn't feel painful, maybe just a bit of burning.
My son was actually in the NICU for about a month, and I felt so obsessed with having to be there every minute of every day. Deciding it was OK to take 20 minutes to have sex and relax and just feel like, this is still normal life, was very therapeutic. We just went really slow, and didn't expect anything spectacular -- and it immediately helped bring us back. There was no way we were going to make it six weeks anyway. -- Jacqui, 27
*These accounts have been edited and condensed.
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