Congratulations, you have a beautiful, healthy baby, now you can get back to your life. Except that may not be as easy as it sounds. You might feel different and may even look different. Sexuality and desire for sex may be areas that are directly affected by the body and brain changes that happen after having a baby.
Brain changes include hormone levels dropping, especially the ones which were helping you to have that pregnancy glow, shiny hair and beautiful skin. Breastfeeding, a miraculous way to feed and protect your baby can have some negative effects when it comes to sexual activity and desire. The hormone that causes milk production also decreases the sex hormones leaving the tissues thin and dry. This is most evident in the vagina where less estrogen in the body translates into thin vaginal walls unable to lubricate. So even if you’re interested, the lack of wetness will mean a painful and trying experience. Fatigue from waking through the night to feed the baby, interferes with other brain chemicals which help us to feel happy and relaxed enough to initiate or participate in sex.
Body changes like stretch marks and excess weight can contribute to a negative self-image, which can keep us from feeling attractive and sexy. As it takes eight to twelve weeks for the uterus to shrink back to normal size(and the body a year), looking pregnant continues on without the perks. All of the attention is now focused on the new baby and no longer on the radiant, pregnant mom. Scar tissue and tight incisions from Caesarean section or episiotomy may also decrease sensation so that we feel like being intimate, but it doesn’t feel like it did before.
According to Eastern Medicine, the area where the Caesarean is done is called the Second Chakra. It is a channel which carries our sexual energy and is a driving force in nature. When this area is cut, the pathway can be interrupted and leave the areas above and below feeling distant and disconnected.
So what can we do to help ourselves return to enjoyable sexual activity? First we need to remember that there are four parties in the house now…mother, father, baby and the couple. Each one needs attention and focus. Second we need to keep things simple. It’s a busy time, with a lot of change and going back to hugging, kissing, petting and “outercourse” can help us to feel supported, loved and desired without feeling pressured. Hormone creams that are applied locally, as well as lubricants, are available and are inexpensive. The creams can help the thinned vaginal walls and lubricants provide the missing natural wetness.
Tight, painful or numb scars can be addressed using CranioSacral Therapy, a gentle manual technique used to release restrictions in the body. As the layers of tissue are released, it will be easier to stretch, stand up straight and regain core strength.
So, sex after baby? Definitely. Recognizing that adjustments are necessary to accomodate everyone’s needs and feelings? Mandatory.
Compliments of: Yonina Chernick, BA/Kin, RMT, CranioSacral Therapy and Contemporary Acupuncture
and Beryl A. Chernick, MD, PhD, Sexual Medicine, co-author to IN TOUCH: THE LADDER TO SEXUAL SATISFACTION