Postpartum Sexual Health

Sexual issues arising from pregnancy and postpartum

Postpartum Sexual Health

Many ask if sex is safe during pregnancy. The answer is yes, sex is considered safe during all stages of a normal pregnancy. A normal pregnancy is defined as one that’s considered low-risk for complications such as miscarriage or pre-term labor. Talk to your doctor, nurse-midwife, or other pregnancy health care provider if you’re uncertain about whether you fall into this category.

However, just because sex is safe during pregnancy doesn’t mean you or your partner will want to have it. Many expectant mothers find that their desire for sex fluctuates during certain stages in the pregnancy. Also, many women find that sex becomes uncomfortable as their bodies get larger. Many partners have anxiety about the potential of sex hurting the fetus.

You and your partner should keep the lines of communication open regarding your sexual relationship. Talk about other ways to satisfy your need for intimacy, such as kissing, caressing, and holding each other.

Many pregnant women find that symptoms such as fatigue, nausea, breast tenderness, and the increased need to urinate make sex too bothersome, especially during the first trimester. Generally, fatigue and nausea subside during the second trimester, and some women find that their desire for sex increases. Also, some women find that freedom from worries about contraception, combined with a renewed sense of closeness with their partner, makes sex more fulfilling. Desire generally subsides again during the third trimester as the uterus grows even larger and the reality of what’s about to happen sets in.

Your partner’s desire for sex is likely to increase or decrease as well. Some feel even closer to their pregnant partner and enjoy the changes in their bodies. Others may experience decreased desire because of anxiety about the burdens of parenthood, or because of concerns about the health of both the mother and their unborn child. You and your partner may have trouble reconciling your identity as a sexual partner with your new (and increasingly visible) identity as an expectant mother. Again, remember that communication with your partner can be a great help in dealing with these issues.

The postpartum period is defined as the date of birth of the baby until six weeks later. The first sexual encounter after childbirth can be an important step for couples to regain their intimate relationship. For both partners, there will be adaptation necessary, such as a new parental role, and sleep deprivation. For the new mother there are hormonal changes, physical healing, and breastfeeding which contribute to a profound psycho-social challenge. There is also a potential for postpartum depression. The resumption of sexual activities and a satisfying postpartum sex life depends of many variables, some which are difficult to anticipate.

If sexual desire decreases during pregnancy and the postpartum time, this is normal for some. However, if you experience urinary or fecal incontinence, painful intercourse which is more than uncomfortable, you should seek help from a physician.

baby in the bedroomBaby in the Bedroom

Introducing Baby In the Bedroom: An Eight Week Multi-Disciplinary Program for Urinary Leakage and Sexual Health for New Moms. Your sexual life after having a baby can be very stressful for many couples. Having a baby in the bedroom shouldn’t stop you and your partner from being able to have intimacy. Learn how to combat this by educating yourself.