4th Trimester Birth Plan – Maternal Sexual Health

Mom holding a baby and smiling at dad.

If you are pregnant or have had a baby, then it is probably safe to say you’ve had sex. Let’s talk about that. Over 75% of new moms recognize that sex is important. Experts agree. BUT, nearly 79% of women report that after children, they have less sex.  Learn about common intimacy road-blocks and work through them in your 4th trimester birth plan. The time to nip loss of intimacy in the bud is before baby is born.

Sex after Baby

The idea of having sex after your birth can be intimidating… even scary. This is normal. In fact, your hormones can sometimes lower your libido. It probably has nothing to do with whether you do or do not typically enjoy sex, or do or do not want to have sex. Try not to judge yourself or be self-critical. No matter whether you have had a vaginal or cesarean birth, everything is new and no-doubt, your body parts have shifted around. Sex will be different. That does not mean bad. Be open to change.

By planning for intimacy and communicating openly you will pave the path for meaningful connection with your partner. Most professionals recommend waiting about 6 weeks before having sex after baby. Consider taking time in your birth planning process to talk openly about common concerns with your partner, and even set a date for your first time. Remember, intimacy doesn’t necessarily mean intercourse.

Lack of intimacy often comes from body insecurity and physical realities such as those caused by wounds and hormonal changes. Some of the most common problems and simple solutions are highlighted below. Consider planning for the most common concerns and maybe even keep some products on hand to support your successful re-engagement in sexual activities.

Plan Ahead

  • Vaginal dryness due to hormonal changes: There is a high chance you will experience dryness, especially if you are breastfeeding. Try making a treasure box of intimacy goodies as part of your 4th trimester birth plan. Include things that will help you feel both sexy and excited. Consider something symbolic of when it was just the two of you, a beautiful new bra and a candle. Organic lubricant is an absolute must.
  • Fear of pain from sutures or tearing: Talk with your healthcare professional about stretching oils, episiotomies and ways to avoid unnecessary surgeries. If you do have surgical wounds or a traumatic birth, you might need extra time to heal. Give yourself permission to go slow.
  • Exhaustion and lack of sleep: There are few things as depleting as utter exhaustion. Lack of sleep makes us irritable, impatient and definitely un-sexy feeling. Plan for time to get enough sleep, even if broken by windows of breastfeeding. After you’ve had a baby there is absolutely no way that eight continuous hours in bed will a) be possible or b) do the trick.
  • Secrecy about feeling imperfect and frustrated: Don’t keep it in. Let it out. Talk about how you are feeling, especially when it comes to sex. Secrecy is destructive. Open communication can be sexy. Schedule sex together. Plan how and when you will be intimate and open together with your partner. Plan alone time to create the space for intimacy – hug, kiss, cuddle, talk and go slow with sex if you need to.
  • Self consciousness about stretch marks, baby weight, or scars: Take a moment to look in the mirror and honor your body and all it has done to grow a human being. Start your kegels early for long term vaginal strength. Exercise daily to raise endorphin levels, even if that means wearing your baby while taking a simple stroll around your neighborhood. Shower at least every other day so you aren’t looking in the mirror thinking about spit-up streaked greasy hair. Eat regularly and nutritiously. These may seem like simple tasks now, but they won’t seem so simple in the 4th trimester. It takes serious planning to create enough time to care for yourself. Think through some of those basic needs as part of your birth planning process.
  • Anger or resentment about lifestyle changes: Get personal time alone or with other adults to relax. Being on call 24/7 is impossible no matter how competent you are. Plan ahead for trusted babysitters, even if you only go for a quick, solitary trip to the grocery store. Discuss with your partner who will do what when it comes to changing diapers, feeding and getting up in the middle of the night. Without ample conversation and authentic transparency, it is easy for the partnership to get out of balance when a new baby joins the family.
  • Concerns about getting pregnant again too soon: Plan for your fertility with whatever methods feel right and are safe for you and your baby. Be very aware that you absolutely could and might get pregnant again, even before you have had a single menstruation, and even while you are breastfeeding.

Healthy Steps

There is no time like yesterday when it comes to planning intimacy with your partner. I know, where is the spontaneity in that? The thing is, for a time, spontaneity is hard to come by when you have a new baby, especially if you are sleep deprived, hungry and self-deprecating.

Your baby will benefit if you can love yourself and love your partner – fully, openly and without judgement. While this may not always be easy in a relationship, maintaining intimacy is a healthy step in the right direction.

Kim Walls and Elizabeth Bachner

Walls, M.S., and Elizabeth Bachner LM, CPM, LAc are blazing the path toward better birth plans and more collaborative care for moms and babies. Check out The Best Ever Birth Plan and Hospital Bag Checklist as well as GraceFull Birth for more from Kim Walls and Elizabeth Bachner.

Note: This Perspectives Blog post is written by a guest blogger of DrGreene.com. The opinions expressed on this post do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Dr. Greene or DrGreene.com, and as such we are not responsible for the accuracy of the information supplied. View the license for this post.

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