Well dads, it seems that we all have questions about when we can get back on the saddle with our female partner once they've given birth. While many partners are very interested in reengaging in sexual activity there are many women who feel nervous and uncomfortable with their bodies post-partum.
Six weeks after the birth of our first child, the doctor cleared my wife for exercise. I figured, hey, let's go for a long walk. Let's start some yoga. Let's give having sex a try.
Walking and yoga were far easier, emotionally, than sex. We read about it online and took the advice from her doctor that we should be using a lot of lubrication and we went very slowly. I remember that my wife didn't really enjoy the first time we had sex postpartum. Now, clear headed, she'd be able to tell you that there were several reasons why she didn’t.
First, she was worried that things weren't going to feel good, look good, or work the way they used to. The next thing was that pregnancy had changed my wife's body to the point that she had begun to feel much more self-conscious, especially only 6 weeks after giving birth. She wasn’t sure how being touched in an intimate way would make her feel. It's very hard to enjoy sex when you're thinking about all these distractions. In the middle of one of our "get back in the saddle" experiments, my wife started crying, and I stopped. I asked her why worried I had hurt her. She said she just didn't know if her body could do this again. She said it was a mix of relief, fear, and confrontation. She told me that she didn't know who she was as a sexual human now that she had become a mother.
With our first child my wife was able to see a doctor postpartum. Emotionally, she wasn't doing very well. She had found breastfeeding to be painful and exhausting. Her body was sweating a lot, especially overnight and she was having a lot of anxiety when it came time to even talking about trying to do something sexual again. We overcame this by going slowly – talking about where she would be comfortable being touched, where she did not want to be touched and where it may feel good to be touched. Intimacy and physical connection aren’t just about the sexual act itself; it is also in the steps leading up to it. From gentle touching to massage, we worked our way back to sex. Knowing that we had made this time for each other in a time of stress and uncertainty was amazing for our relationship, even after being together for almost 10 years at the time when we had our first child together. I'll never forget when she had her first postpartum orgasm, she cried and said "I'm still me, thank goodness."
Fast forward several years and we've had another child this time the post-partum anxiety had decreased significantly that we didn't feel the need to consult the doctor for advice. We didn't feel afraid.
We knew which lubrication we liked the best. We knew which areas of her body she'd be feeling self-confident about which she’d be feeling self-conscious about. It was amazing to see my partner grow confidence in the body that grew these two beautiful little humans. It made me more attracted to her because it was this woman and her body that allowed me to become a father. The confidence you gain and understanding your body in these years of parenthood is unbelievable. Sure, I did not have to birth the children. I did not have to grow a baby in my body, but my awareness around my own body became much greater as well. I can confidently say, that after having two children, our sex life is better than it ever was before we had kids. We may have sex a little less often, but the intimacy and connection and communication skills we've gained from working through her post-partum experience has definitely increased. All the changes we've gone through together and in sharing these two beautiful little people has made everything feel so much safer, much more passionate, and more like we're back at the beginning of dating again.
I do think that we, as men, can often be in a big rush to get back in the saddle postpartum. Becoming a father forever changes you and changes the way you see the world. You begin to think about your health, your wellness, your food intake, your alcohol intake, and so much more. You do this because you want to show up for this kid in a big way and want to be around to enjoy all the experiences that come with being a parent.
Now, imagine what is must be for your partner who has just given birth. She's also going through these things long with adjusting to the physical repercussions of having given birth. The funny thing about sex and parenthood is that both of them kind of force you to confront yourself, your demons, your fears, your anxieties, and your insecurities in a way that you haven't had to before.
My biggest advice is to show kindness and get curious with your partner. You might be surprised by the ways this approach can create new levels of intimacy and pleasure in your relationship.