Guest Blog Post by Eimear Lynch
As a women’s health physiotherapist, I could sit here and write an entire blog about incontinence, prolapse, back pain etc but the more and more I see women, I notice that a topic that has even more taboo post-partum is sex. I am no sex therapist but the pelvic floor is pretty important in sex and that’s something I deal with daily!
Firstly there is no right time to return to sex after baby. Some women will be eager to get back at 6 weeks post natal, but for others it may be over a year or more.
Every couple is different. Mums can struggle both mentally and physically with returning to sex after kids, and so open communication with your partner is vital. There is a lot of pressure for mums to “bounce back” post baby, and more recently to be “sexy” after kids. The post natal period can be a vulnerable time, there is a lot going on and sex, or being sexy, is often not high on the priority list. Our headspace as a mum is different to that as a lover, and it may be difficult to switch between the two.
THE ADVICE I GIVE TO MUMS POST NATAL
1 week of no bleeding (usually around 4-7 weeks post natal). This is a sign that you are healed and are a reduced risk of infection
Use a lubricant- Due to hormones you may experience some vaginal dryness, especially if breastfeeding. If the tissues are dry, and especially if you have any perineal tear or episiotomy, you want to limit any uncomfortable dragging of these healing tissues. YES is a great organic lubricant which I use in clinic, though there are lots of different brands out there. Just remember oil based lubricants are not suitable for use with condoms, so if using condoms as contraception a water based lubricant is best.
Woman on top- Playing around with different positions can be helpful. I always recommend for the first time after baby, the woman should be on top . This is best as she can control the speed and depth. This can reduce alot of anxiety for women.
ADVICE I OFFER FOR PARTNERS
3 reasons women may struggle with sex initially post baby:
Fear. Particularly following a vaginal birth, but also after section. Your partner may be frightened of damaging my stitches or causing pain.
Change in my body image. A woman’s body has changed so dramatically in the past 9 months and she may struggle to feel sexy
Vaginal dryness. It is normal for women to feel dry down there. This is not a sign that your partner doesn’t love you, it is a normal response to changing hormones right now.
Sometimes new mums feel emotionally fatigued. They have likely spent all day being touched by, and caring for baby- your partner may feel like they can give no more.
Be patient. Some mums feel like they have lost their identity and may need some time to settle into who she is as a mum and as a partner again.
Sometimes women can experience ongoing pain with sex following baby. If this occurs you may have pain secondary to perineal scarring following episiotomy/tearing, or some tightness in the pelvic floor for example. You should contact a women’s health physiotherapist for a thorough assessment. This can be your primary problem, there is nothing to be ashamed of, it is ok to want to be pain free with sex!
The Physio Girl
My name is Eimear Lynch, I am the practice owner at The Physio Girl, a clinic dedicated to women’s health and post natal rehabilitation. I treat everything from incontinence to prolapse, back pain, diastasis and everything in between. I came to this job through my own personal struggles with pelvic health problems and understand the emotional and physical impact these issues can have. Since having my own kids my love for this job has grown even more. My passion is supporting women to achieve their goals.