You’ve just grown and carried a baby in your body for 9 (+) months, birthed said baby (vaginally or C-section), nurtured and cared for that baby with minimal sleep or time for yourself, healed from the physical trauma of delivery, and then are told you’re cleared for sex six weeks later. Don’t feel ready yet? You’re not alone.
There are multiple barriers to having sex after a baby, including emotional, physical, hormonal, and psychological factors. While physical therapy and acupuncture can most definitely address the physical barriers, we can also help ease the others too.
See a Pelvic Floor Therapist
Seeing a pelvic floor physical therapist during the postpartum phase can help with the emotional trauma of delivery, the physical changes, and the psychological aspects of connecting to your body as your own again.
I often treat postpartum women with complaints of pain with intercourse but rehabbing your pelvic floor shouldn’t be limited to just those experiencing pain.
Getting to Know Your Postpartum Muscles
It’s common to experience a change in the way these muscles function, including sexual appreciation. If these muscles are holding onto too much tension, it may be difficult to relax them, required for pain-free penetration. On the other hand, if the pelvic floor muscles aren’t as strong as they used to be, orgasms may be less intense and shorter in duration. Knowing your body and connecting to these muscles will give you the power to return to a positive relationship with postpartum sex.
How to Help with Pain
Nothing ruins the mood like the anticipation of pain. A postpartum PT visit will include assessing the mobility of scar tissue, whether it is scarring on the perineum from a tear or episiotomy or the C-section scar. Introducing sensation to these restricted areas will promote a better sensory experience, desensitize painful tissue and allow the tissue to move and stretch without pain. Women can often experience numbness around C-section scars. Regaining a connection to this area can enhance sensual touch and better facilitate neuromuscular connections to your deep abdominals and pelvic floor muscles.
Learning how to properly coordinate your pelvic floor muscles is like learning a subtle dance. It involves connecting to your body to let go of unwanted tension and guarding to allow for proper movement. Of course, this is going to be a bit different after childbirth! Give yourself the time and space to connect to yourself first, building confidence that your body is healing and will experience pleasure again. Getting this connection back will improve orgasm and lubrication.
Tips for Sex After Baby
- Deep slow breaths to relax your pelvic floor and tap into your parasympathetic nervous system
- Lots of foreplay, penetration doesn’t have the be the goal! Oral sex can be a good starting point
- Use lubricant! (Apply both externally and internally to ensure smooth penetration) At Yinova we like to recommend coconut oil as it is naturally antibacterial and anti-inflammatory.
- Try different positions! (side-lying can be easier than missionary)
- Control the amount of penetration yourself, manually guide your partner in
Dr. Erin Weber PT, DPT is a pelvic floor physical therapist and co-founder of Flow Physiotherapy in DUMBO, Brooklyn. She has spent the last 12 years of her career working in outpatient orthopedic physical therapy in NYC. She’s dedicated the latter half of it to serving prenatal and postpartum women, as wells as individuals suffering from pelvic floor dysfunction. You can learn more about Flow Physiotherapy, their team, and their approach to pelvic floor health here.