Painful Sex After Birth: Restoring Intimacy And Reviving Pleasure
9 months of pregnancy. One or two days of the intense work of labor. Moving a baby from your body to your arms. 6 weeks of ‘postpartum recovery.’ And, after all of this, when you have given the world a new life, a new spirit a new soul, you are supposed to snap back to normal. But what happens if you realize you’ve lost something incredibly important to your life in the process? Intimacy.
Painful sex after birth is not uncommon. But it’s not something you just have to deal with either. In fact, in a study of over 1,ooo women, 85% of moms reported pain the first time they had sex after giving birth. 3 months after birth, 44% of women still had pain, and by 18 months, when that sweet baby is one and a half years old, one in 5 moms still reported painful sex.
If you are experiencing painful sex after birth, you are not alone. Nor do you have to accept this as your new reality. Healing is possible. In fact, some moms even report better, more pleasurable, more intimate sex after a baby too.
The journey into motherhood can break down your walls, leave you more open, safe to be vulnerable and reach deeper levels of connection with your partner than ever. But, you may have to remove some blocks from the path to find it.
Hopefully these ideas help you move down the path to those earth shattering orgasms and deep connections fulfilling sex can provide.
Find The Root Cause Of Your Painful Sex After Birth By Exploring These Areas:
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I’m not a therapist, a sex therapist or a pelvic floor physical therapist, but as a doula, when I walk with moms days, weeks, months and years after having their baby, the topic of sex comes up often.
Some moms start making love again right away. Others wait months or even years. Every mom has her own unique timeline. You deserve time and space to feel what is right for you and your partnership.
But, I have found that exploring these areas can help restore connection, romance and pleasure back into a partnership that is missing it. And. though adding lube can help, unlike many resources on sex after baby, I believe the root cause is usually something a bit deeper.
The Most Common Reason For Painful Sex After Having A Baby: Physical Changes To Pelvic Floor
Pregnancy puts unique physical challenges on your body. Especially your pelvic floor. These are the muscles in your hips. They support your bladder, your sexual organs and are an important part of the core.
Some moms feel pressure and pain in their pelvic floor after giving birth. Other moms have too much tightness. They have pulled everything up and in for months and have lost the range of motion that allows them to release.
Either way if your pelvic floor has become so tight it cannot release, or so weak it is not properly supporting the bladder and other organs. In these cases, penetration will likely feel painful, tight and restricted. But, like most things, what is out of balance, can typically be brought into balance.
Without the ability to both contract and release fully, pleasure and orgasms are often replaced by aches and pains. Simply adding lube is not going to make penetration pleasurable again. But, restoring strength and mobility to your pelvic floor likely will.
How To Address Pelvic Floor Difficulties Causing Painful Sex
1. Seek Professional Help From A Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist
A pelvic floor physical therapist can help you decode your body. They can ask you how you feel, listen to your experiences and teach you different practices to heal. They can also take a look at scar tissue and do a proper evaluation to give you a clear plan for healing. Many countries consider 8 visits to a pelvic floor physical therapist the gold standard of care after giving birth.
2. Look Into An Exercise Program Designed To Heal The Pelvic Floor
Every Mother is an exercise program for moms who are pregnant, immediately postpartum or who are trying to resolve pelvic pain or abdominal separation even years after giving birth. They have specific paths that teach you about your body, how to engage and heal your muscles and more. You can see how they compare to other postpartum programs in my exercise program comparison here.
The bottom line is that there is a path to restoring pelvic health and Every Mother is the best Do It Yourself At Home Program to guide you down it. You start by answering questions about your body. Then, based on your symptoms, they send you down a daily exercise path to help heal.
3. If You’re Still Pregnant, Use A Simple 15 Minute Pelvic Floor Health Routine 5 Times A Week.
Inside my birth course, there is a simple pelvic floor, core and hip PREHAB routine to help you protect your body during pregnancy and birth. I worked with a physical therapist to come up with a simple routine that will help you explore and nurture a full range of pelvic floor motion, to help your muscles both contract and relax. This routine was designed to be done 5 times a week the last 6 weeks of pregnancy. Don’t worry, it only takes 15 minutes to complete.
2. Explore How Your New Responsibilities Have Filled Your Life And Affect Your Sex Drive
Our ability to play and have fun is essential to building an orgasm. As humans, we are built to have cycles of work and rest or work and play. But, after having a baby, both mothers and fathers often shift into work and work. Play and sleep take a back seat.
But, what happens when we enter periods of stress on/ stress on? The effects cascade through our body – even affecting hormones that can allow us to be turned on, such as estrogen and testosterone, which are already going to be depleted for breastfeeding mothers.
In the book the Postnatal Depletion Cure Dr. Oscar Serrallach teaches that when there is no rest to reset the body back to normal, the body is bathed in stress hormones. They make you feel completely wiped out. With no energy for love making or love building.
So if you feel like even when you are together, one of both of you are absent, you are not alone.
If you feel like your mind is racing and you can’t focus on making love when you’re physically together, you are not alone.
If you feel like dryness, tightness and not being able to turn on the hormonal side of intimacy that makes you wet, relaxed and open, you are not alone.
How To Fix The Stress More Stress Problem
Work Together To Handle New Responsibilities
Did you know that a breastfeeding mom will spend 40 hours a week feeding her baby? That doesn’t include the work of changing, the baby, feeding herself, putting baby to sleep, washing clothes etc. It’s important to try to understand the new jobs and divide the work. Using a game like Fair Play can help you understand the invisible work you each do that you might not see or appreciate, and hand each other tasks when you need a break.
This is a great way to make sure that everything gets done, and as a unit you can exit the stress on/ stress on cycle that overrides a natural sex drive, without sacrificing the quality of home life you desire.
Create Recurring Time For Downtime Or Play
Whether you set up every Friday morning as grandparent day, hire a nanny or get help from a postpartum doula, it’s important to have breaks regularly. If a nurse worked a night shift, she would know she NEEDS to give herself sleep during the day. And yet, a mother who is up all night with her baby, often is then up all day during the day.
So, mama, if you’re up with the baby, give yourself permission to sleep during the day. If you can’t get to all the dishes, hire someone to come help. The first year is a short season of life, the investments you make in sustainability here will pay you back for decades to come.
Schedule Time For Romance And Togetherness
Bonding is a very important part of building intimacy and love. In fact it directly affects the ability to be open and vulnerable. Both of which are essential for orgasm.
Build structures to have time to be together that isn’t focused on reaching the result of an orgasm. Trust that if you have a weekly massage, or 15 minutes in the morning laying in bed doing a crossword together, that the desire and togetherness will build the physical desire for physical intimacy and orgasm.
Some families like to adopt the rule of 7’s to protect their together time.
A night out every 7 days.
A night away every 7 weeks.
A vacation every 7 months.
Having structure gives predictability. It also creates room for spontaneity as you can fill the time with whatever whims you have. A relationship needs space and time. Without closeness and safety with each other, it is unlikely that the cascade of hormones that lead to orgasm will be present.
3. Expand Your Knowledge Of Orgasms And Your Body
While the newborn period is very demanding, sometimes it seems like you aren’t doing anything. Nursing, putting a baby to sleep, finding yourself nap trapped – moms often get frustrated with boredom the new slow pace of life
But, that down time can be put to use if you are wanting to move past painful sex after birth to a life of pleasure and connection.
These books are worth loading onto your Kindle to peruse in downtime.
Come As You Are
“Come As You Are” is an exceptional book that offers insights into preventing painful sex and enhancing sexual well-being. Emily Nagoski, the author, provides a comprehensive and inclusive approach to understanding the complexities of women’s sexual experiences. The book explores the interplay between biology, psychology, and societal influences, empowering readers to embrace their unique sexual identities.
With practical exercises and relatable anecdotes, she equips readers with the tools to communicate effectively with their partners and healthcare professionals, fostering a more open and fulfilling sexual journey. Overall, “Come As You Are” is a must-read for anyone seeking to prevent painful sex and cultivate a healthier, more pleasurable relationship with their own sexuality.
Tantric Orgasm For Women
“Tantric Orgasm For Women” is an incredible book for moms who are looking to create a sexual connection with their partner that focuses on deepening connection, intimacy, and spiritual growth. In this book, the reader is taken on a journey to explore how slowing down, prolonging arousal, and prioritizing sensual pleasure can help a woman discover and activate her sexual energy.
With practical exercises, you go on a deep exploration of how sensuality builds connections, deep bonds and deepens relationships with ourselves and our partners. If sex was a task or a chore before, it will change to a sacred and transformative experience. Even offering the potential for personal and spiritual development alongside physical pleasure.
This is a really good book to read together or in partnership with the book “Tantric Sex For Men.” If your pleasure ever took a back seat, this will reframe it as a priority for you and your partner. While giving you tools to communicate your needs and explore your pleasure together.
“Bow Down” may seem like a surprising addition to this list at first. But, don’t let this book fool you. It may seem like an intro to kink at first, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Power is a part of every relationship and structure we are part of. Many of the women I’ve worked with have related how one way or the other, they find it difficult to speak up for themselves in life and in the bedroom. Ultimately, this book is a book about self respect and boundaries.
This book is great for anyone who struggle with being too nice, compliant or speaking up for themselves. In nw motherhood, this could be taking on the bulk of the responsibility in an unhealthy way. It could be continually suffering through painful sex because you are prioritizing someone else and okay with sacrificing yourself.
Most of this book is about communication. How do you stop asking for permission and instead stay assertive, compassionate, empathetic and crystal clear? It is an incredible guide to keeping resentment out of your life. Creating limits, and making space for the true YOU to shine through in every corner of your life.
King, Warrior, Magician, Lover
I have to admit, I haven’t always had a clear idea of what a healthy masculine presence in my life would look like. For a long time, I felt selfish asking for help. Or a failure if I couldn’t do it all.
Once, I was at a birth with a family where the couple had a magnetic and beautiful connection. I saw this book on their coffee table and had to read it.
Bow Down is all about how to ask for what you want – but “this book”King, Warrior, Magician, Lover” helped me know what to ask for. Although it’s mainly written for men, it helped me know what traits I deserved in a partner and could ask a partner to develop as well. One thing that vulnerability and openness, pleasure and orgasm requies is safety. This book will show you what traits can create the physical and emotional safety for you. And, how to recognize behavior that is immature and the ways that that immaturity could be flipped onto you if you’re not expecting it.
This book has been invaluable to me when it comes to existing in a healthy and loving union.
Your Best Body After Baby
Postpartum recovery is almost always rushed by in our culture. Not every mom has clear expectations about what to expect the weeks and months after giving birth. “Your Best Body After Birth” is written by a physical therapists who maps out what you went through and what you can expect in your healing journey.
This is a great place to learn about your body and gain foundational knowledge about it.
However, I do believe working with a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist one on one or following an exercise program will be a more direct path to recovery. If those are not an option, this will give you a good start.
What If Your Partner Isn’t Going On This Healing Journey With You?
Every now and then, the topic of painful sex after birth, division of responsibility, disagreements and adjustments come up with clients or friends. It’s normal, even in the healthiest of relationships to have to work through and figure out how to get through the newborn years.
But sometimes, it is clear that a partner is not attempting to be a part of the solution at all. I get it, I was once here too.
If you are in a relationship where you are experiencing painful sex after birth and your partner DOES NOT CARE that sex is painful to you. Or THEY ARE NOT WILLING to explore the deeper roots of what can cause this, I urge you to not ignore this. Get a therapist and work as a individual or a couple.
The most common form of domestic violence in the modern world is called coercive control. This type of violence, where everything looks perfect on the outside, but one member of a team is actually drowning can often intensify after the arrival of a newborn.
Coercive control can mean that when you speak up about division of responsibility, you are met with criticism, gaslighting and other behavior which prevents solutions being found. Or, you being pressured into sexual acts you are not comfortable with. Or, that when you try to get the help of a therapist to heal deeply, you’re met with fierce resistance.
Know that you are deserving of a wonderful and beautiful partnership. I urge you to seek professional help if navigating these conversations feels hopeless. There is a path to healing. I promise.
Painful Sex After Birth: Restoring Intimacy And Reviving Pleasure Conclusion
In conclusion, the journey of restoring intimacy and reviving pleasure after experiencing painful sex after having a baby is a multifaceted and deeply personal one. It requires patience, open communication, and self-compassion from both partners. Recognizing that painful sex is a common and treatable issue is the first step toward seeking solutions and support.
By addressing the physical aspects, such as healing the body, even years later, managing any lingering discomfort, and potentially seeking medical guidance, individuals can gradually reclaim their sexual well-being.
Equally important is addressing the emotional and psychological aspects, including understanding the impact of hormonal changes, stress, and body image concerns.
Seeking professional counseling or therapy, both individually and as a couple, can provide valuable tools for navigating these challenges.
It is crucial to approach intimacy with a gentle and understanding mindset, allowing for a gradual reconnection with one’s own body and the pleasure it can provide. Experimenting with different positions, incorporating lubrication, and exploring non-penetrative forms of intimacy can help couples rebuild trust, communication, and physical enjoyment aws well.
Above all, remember that this journey is unique to each couple. Patience, compassion, and a willingness to adapt are essential. By fostering a supportive and loving environment, couples can gradually restore intimacy, revive pleasure, and embark on a fulfilling and joyous sexual journey together.
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