pregnancy

"Like being a virgin all over again": 13 women on what sex is really like after giving birth.

After you've given birth, your obstetrician is likely to tell you it's best to wait four to six weeks after delivery, regardless of the delivery method, before you start having sex again. 

It's not a direction, more a suggestion. But for some women, the mere thought of getting intimate in the weeks and months after pushing a baby out is... shiver-inducing. 

While some women feel unaroused after giving birth, others can feel anxious about pain or that things may have physically altered down there and feel different. For other women, the passion and desire for sex has grown even stronger.

If you Google 'sex after childbirth,' the top query is, what does it feel like?

Watch: Horoscopes as new mums. 


Video via Mamamia

After chatting to a bunch of Mamamia mothers, we're here to inform you: There's no one answer. 

But before we get into that, sex therapist Kate Fisher wants you to know that the "marriage with no sex isn't a marriage" trope we hear too often is completely wrong. 

"Does that mean that if your male partner experiences erectile dysfunction, and they are unable to maintain an erection to penetrate their partner then it’s no longer a marriage?" Kate says. 

It's a good reminder for women who might feel either a societal pressure or pressure from their partner (FYI: Not okay) to rekindle physical intimacy before they're ready.

So. First things first, take your time. However long that takes.

Secondly, here's 13 women how they really felt having sex after giving birth.

Kylie.

It's been almost nine years since a vaginal delivery that saw me tear. So they snipped and so I tore some more. I eventually delivered a baby with a whopping head and some massive haemorrhoids at the same time. I naively believed the doctors when they told me I'd be ready for sex in six weeks or whatever ridiculous thing they spouted. 

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My vagina will never be the same, I know this from other older women now. It doesn't lubricate as it did, sex is sometimes uncomfortable as the scar tissue is tight on the outside but I feel slackened on the inside. It doesn't look, feel or even smell the same. I'm newly single and the idea of having sex with someone new is daunting. Terrifying. I remember having a look at my vagina in the mirror about six months after delivery. I went straight to the doctor because I thought I had a prolapse. But what I thought was my cervix, was just my stretched urethra. I was so embarrassed at how little I knew my own body.

Kim.

Sex after childbirth is a topic close to my heart because after my first baby was born I lost the ability to orgasm. At first, I figured it was just because there was a 'new normal' to get used to both physically and mentally. But as time went on and I started really enjoying sex again, my orgasm still didn’t come back. I would be aroused and enjoying it and I would almost get there, and then boom, gone. No orgasm. I only orgasmed a couple of times in that first year, and then it disappeared altogether. I remember googling “unable to orgasm after having a baby” and all the articles were about getting out of your head and stuff like that but I knew that wasn’t the problem. Mentally I was aroused, physically I was aroused, I just couldn’t get to the finish line. 

I found one forum where women were discussing exactly what was happening to me, and they called it a 'ghost orgasm', but they hadn’t found a solution. That made me feel even more like I was just broken. After my second baby was born, I went for a checkup at a women’s health physio and one of the questions she asked me was, “do you ever have trouble reaching orgasm?” I’ll never forget how relieved I felt in that moment. It turned out that pregnancy and childbirth had weakened my pelvic floor to the point that I physically wasn’t able to orgasm. Some specific pelvic floor exercises fixed the problem in a couple of weeks. 

I can’t believe that it was such an easy fix and yet I struggled in silence for so long.

Liesel. 

I was really worried my husband would look at me differently after he saw the birth of my children and that he wouldn’t find me sexually attractive. Turns out he thinks I’m so much more attractive. We have sex more now than ever - it’s fast, no-frills and at random times, but works for us. There was definitely some apprehension and a bit of pain as I had some scar tissue, but it was short-lived.

Holly.

I’ve had three babies, three C-sections (planned, not emergency), and we returned to our sex life after my stitches came out at two weeks, with the blessing of my amazing OBGYN. We were always slightly careful of my scar but otherwise, it was great. The leaking boob thing is REAL and happened every time [we had sex] until I stopped breastfeeding at 12 months with each baby. I had incredibly high-risk pregnancies, including a lot of medical interventions and hospitalisations, so sex after having a baby was a symbol of a 'return to normal' for us. We weren’t doing gymnastics, as my abdominal wall was so weak and I did have a 10cm scar, but it was still pretty great. It was always nice to put our relationship first for 20 minutes.

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Megan.

I had a C-section and after about three weeks was really craving the intimacy and closeness of my partner. We started with touching and oral, and I think we actually had penetrative sex after almost four weeks. It felt fine - we used a lot of lube. I feel like there's this perception that it’s a bit 'out there' to want to be a woman, and not just a mum, so soon after birth. Which is just rubbish.

Regan.

My husband and I had wild sex while I was pregnant, especially in those last few weeks to get that baby moving. But then after the six-week check when the doctors say it’s safe to have sex again I just couldn’t bring myself to. My husband was very respectful and was happy to talk through what was going on for me. I suffered some post-partum anxiety and isolation and I felt a disconnect to my body. My boobs did not feel sexy, my hips still ached, and I was so tired all the time. 

Six months past and I started to feel like being intimate again. He was patient and understanding - but he needed to learn a lot more about the recovery and all the changes in my body. We slowly worked through it and it honestly took a year of good communication, him educating himself, and me getting my hormones back to semi-normal for sex to even feel like a fun thing again. 

I’ve struggled with dryness as I’m still breastfeeding our almost-two-year-old, but a good lube can go a long way. Sometimes it would just get too painful and too anxiety-inducing, and I would have to stop him. I still struggle to say no to him when I’m not in the mood, but through open, honest conversation we have been able to come up with some terminology. ‘Riding a bike’ when he just wants to touch me and feel me, but doesn’t expect anything back. 'Going fishing' when he’s up for it but truly doesn’t care if I don’t want anything. I tell him I don’t think you’ll catch anything (I’m not up for it) or I saw a fish jump earlier today (I have thought about sex today, let’s see if I can get turned on) and so on. It brings the fun back in and it starts the conversation. 

Two years down the track we have only just started having regular sex again, but it is truly better than ever. We have a deeper connection, we’ve had long conversations about what each other wants and needs, and the orgasms are now out of this world.

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Amy.

It feels like being a virgin all over again.

Emily. 

With my firstborn we had sex at two weeks post-partum and I felt ready. No one actually told me what the "rules" were, and I figured if I felt up for it I was okay to go. It was fine, although I was nervous, and was on top so I had a little more control. After my second we waited for four weeks. At my six-week post-partum check-up I was told my cervix was closed and it was safe to have sex. Oops!

Moira.

There was a lot of “Is this ok?”, “Does that hurt?”, “Let me know if you need to stop”, which is definitely NOT sexy. But for me, we were both so loved up and in a giant love bubble that we wanted to have sex. But it was very, very slow!

Also, after being pregnant, it was nice to feel like a normal human, not a giant uncomfortable mess.

Tessa.

I still have pain during sex 13 months post-birth, and I am working with a women's health physio to try to fix it. Some women think a bit of pain is okay, but it's really not.

If you contact the hospital you gave birth at, they should be able to refer you to a physio. My partner has been patient and kind, but I think men in general need to change their expectations around sex after childbirth.

Carol. 

I’ve had two babies in under three years and I am so tired it’s ridiculous. It is the last thing on my mind. I have not felt sexual in the slightest since having babies. I have sex because it puts my husband in a better mood and then he helps me more.

Claire.

At first, it was painful, but once we got into it, it was actually more pleasurable. I think breastfeeding hormones really increased my pleasure. Oh, and you leak breast milk when you orgasm. I was so embarrassed but my husband assured me it was fine so I totally ignored it in the future.

I had stitches from an episiotomy so the scar tissue was tender and sore for a while but we just tried different positions until we found what worked.

Tilly.

Oh boy, I had a third-degree tear post-birth, and the stitches left me with a painful skin tag which had to be removed, and painful scar tissue. Even now, at 11 months post-partum, sex is not quite right. It feels like someone has moved all the furniture in my house. A lot of the things I used to enjoy now feel uncomfortable or downright painful and I feel awful for my husband who just wants me to enjoy myself and enjoy us being intimate together.

*Names have been changed.

Feature image: Getty. 

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