The Straight Truth About Sex After Childbirth
This article originally appeared on xoJane.com.
When I was pregnant with my oldest son, Avaric, I compulsively consulted What to Expect When You’re Expecting like it was some sort of pregnancy Bible.
Every week during my pregnancy, I followed that book’s perfect outline of pregnancy and fetal development. But it wasn’t until after I gave birth to my son when I really needed the wisdom of those authors.
New-mom me, breasts heaving full of milk, vagina sewn up after a first-degree tear (no, I didn’t have an episiotomy) and my tummy flab folded over like a crude piece of origami.
Did I mention the bleeding? Oh, excuse me…the lochia (thanks, What to Expect authors for the medical jargon).
Yep, I bled for six weeks. Six weeks of bloody fun that rivaled any period. But the real fun was yet to come. At six-weeks postpartum, my doctor gave me the green-light for intercourse.
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What the hell? Sex? Penis in vagina (well, for me it means penis in vagina)? Did she know that my poor vagina had been traumatized by an 8 pound 6 ounce baby that had stretched it to capacity? Did she see my scar tissue from the tear? Did she know that I had been bleeding through maxi pads for six-weeks? Was the doctor freaking high?
Quite honestly, the idea of my husband’s penis entering anything close to my stretched-out, sewn-up, raw vagina did not excite me at all.
What to Expect When You’re Expecting gave me two small pages devoted to sex after childbirth, but the book’s “It’s all going to be OK” attitude did not sit well with my sore vagina. I wanted the real story about sex post-baby.
I wanted a blow-for-blow account, because my vagina was scared and wanted nothing more than to forget that sex even existed. I wanted a cheat sheet, dammit.
Unfortunately, losing one’s post-birth virginity is only a subject to be discussed between girlfriends. In hushed whispers. Like some big secret.
There is no sugar-coating post childbirth sex. Every woman who has delivered a baby vaginally has at least a little trepidation of sex. Quite frankly, the thought of anything entering my vagina again made me break out into cold sweats.
I did eventually lose my post-delivery virginity about a week after my six-week checkup. Luckily, I do kiss and tell.
I’ll give it to you straight. Our first time was missionary. I hate missionary, but it seemed safest…vaginally-speaking. I wasn’t taking any chances of a penis hitting post-baby scar tissue the wrong way. I also wasn’t going to take control, because I really, really just wanted to lose the damn post-baby virginity.
For me, the experience needed to be quick. Like ripping off a Band-aid. Or, in this case, a vaginal band-aid. There was no foreplay. There was no whispering of sweet nothings or candles burning. Nope. But there was this unforgettable conversation:
Me: Do NOT put it in there!
My Husband: Julie, really, if we’re going to do this, I have to put it in.
Me: Do NOT put it in. I’m going to start singing Kumbaya.
My Husband: This is horrible.
Me: I know. Just put it in. I just want it to be over. And do NOT touch my breasts.
My Husband: What? Why can’t I touch them?
Me: Because what if I let down? What if I hose you down with milk?
The initial experience was painful. I’m sorry. I know, but it was. For me, the first time post-baby was like losing my virginity all over again. I was tense. Nervous. I was so afraid that my once tight vagina would feel more like a cavernous pit.
There was no mind-blowing orgasm. A lot of laughter, but no screams of ecstasy.
The truth is that, for me, sex did feel different after childbirth. My vagina felt different. My body was changed. Not better, not worse. My body was just…different. My breasts were full of milk. If he touched them, they tingled in the way that every breastfeeding mother knows as the “uh oh” feeling that signals a let-down of milk.
And I won’t leave out the body issues. Of course there were body issues. My belly had harbored an 8-pound infant. But, while the sex was awkward and a little painful, it was fun. Well, it was funny.
Of course, the sex got better. Much better. A few times husband got a mouthful of milk. But, whatever, he lived.
Really, your vagina is a freaking superhero. After being stretched-out, sewn-up and battered during childbirth, vaginas bounce back.
I’m happy to report that my vagina survived a second birth (9 pounds 9 ounces, thank you!) and a second post-delivery virginity loss. (Although I milked that pelvic rest for as long as I could. Come on…the kid was over nine pounds!)
And, in case you’re wondering, lube helps. Lube always helps.
But when it comes to sex post-delivery, there should be no expectations. Great or small. It’s about rediscovering your body. Embracing it. Embracing your partner. And remembering, of course, to laugh.