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The Real Story of Postpartum Sex

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“6 more weeks and you can be back at it,” my doctor parroted, distracted on her way out of the door.  

It had been a rough pregnancy.  Spent almost entirely on bed rest and ending in an emergency C-Section at 30 weeks, the ordeal would soon be over.  The baby was safe in the NICU, and in 6 short weeks I would be able to do everything I could do before the pregnancy…including sex.  At least that is what the doctor said.

6 weeks flew by.  The baby came home.  And one fateful night in October, eight weeks after the C-Section, my husband and I headed to the bedroom to do a little more than sleep for the first time in almost a year.  

It didn’t fit.

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Yep.  You heard that right.  It didn’t fit. And it was so painful trying.  I broke down in tears. Postpartum sex pain is real.

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Was this our life now?  Would we spend the rest of our lives celibate?  How were we going to have that second kid we always wanted?

Yeah, hormones suck.  And doctors suck at disseminating information even more.

People do not heal from birth in 6 weeks.  6 weeks after birth you cannot do everything you used to do.  Going up stairs might still be a challenge. Your lady parts might still hurt.  Bending over and tying your own shoes or putting on socks easily could still be a long way off.

My mom used to tell me that after surgeries 6 weeks is how long it takes for your body to be able to do things without breaking open and spewing blood everywhere.  It took giving birth for me to understand how true that was.

Over the next few months, we kept trying.  It was torture. Anything touching down there might as well have been sandpaper.  

We let the baby get in the way.  “I’m too tired. The baby was up 4 times last night,” was a common excuse.  Until one day, in a fit of frustration, I turned to the internet.

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I have never been more angry in my life!  Here I had been sold a lie by both the media and my doctor, and I thought I was the one with a problem.  

The media loves to portray pregnancy as little more difficult than a long period with extra hormones.  You give birth, then BAM, 6 weeks later you are back in shape pushing a jogging stroller with a latte and having a glorious sex life.  The doctors did nothing to indicate that might not be true.

But it isn’t true.  For most women, pregnancy and postpartum are not like that at all.  We struggle. Sex evaporates. And the taboos surrounding all of it isolate us at our most vulnerable.  

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The internet taught me that it could be a year or longer before my body was actually ready for sex.  It could be a year or longer until I was really ready to start working out again. It could be a year or longer before I would start to feel like me again.


Armed with information, I approached my husband.  We went through all the data together and came up with a plan.  We would schedule sex once a month and re-evaluate after each time.  We wouldn’t push. If things didn’t work, we would stop and there would be no hard feelings.  After all, we could still do things that weren’t painful. Like cuddle.

Sex had become work.  A chore. Like physical therapy or taking out the garbage.  Something that had to be done, but that no one really wanted.  After all, if we didn’t try we wouldn’t know how I was healing.  

We had lots of false starts.  A few nights that ended in tears for one or both parties.  But we knew, eventually, my body would decide we could do this.  So we kept going.

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Fall turned to winter.  Winter turned to spring.  It was May before sex stopped being prohibitively painful.  October again before it started being fun. And now, 16 months after our daughter was born, we are finally back to our pre-baby sex life.  

So, for everyone out there struggling: your sex life isn’t over.  You won’t feel like this forever. Sex might not be the same for a while (or ever again), and it will never be as easy as it once was to make time for, but it will be back.  And it will be just as good (if not better) than it ever was.

I want to thank Abby for the opportunity to guest post on Kin Unplugged!  I am the mom of a beautiful preemie girl. My experiences having a preemie prompted me to start the blog, Unprepared Mom, where I try to share everything I have learned about child development and healthy family living.  
For some tips on how to get back in the mood after pregnancy or how to play with your child to support development, please visit my site (https://unpreparedmom.com/).
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15 thoughts on “The Real Story of Postpartum Sex”

  1. Thank you for sharing this. I feel like it’s not really discussed but can definitely be a big issue after having a baby

    1. Yeah. It was really hard finding information on why it wasn’t working. I feel people need to hear it.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing! PP sex was honestly horrifying for me. Especially after my first when I had had so much bruising initially from the pushing. Once we were “cleared,” I was thinking, “You wanna do WHAT now??” It took a long time to be comfortable. I definitely think this needs to get talked about more.

    1. I feel the media hurts us with this. We are told that it should be easy, and then we get there and it is, as you said, horrifying. I hope everything is okay now.

  3. I think this is the first time I’ve ever read a blog post abou this which is sad considering it impacts all moms! Love this!!

  4. I had a baby 17 months ago so I can totally understand where this post is coming from. My advice is be patient and don’t rush anything.

  5. This is so important to share so thank you for putting it out there! Postpartum can be so isolating. It is probably the hardest time in a woman’s life! Sex after baby is NOT the same for everyone and that’s OKAY!

  6. This topic is easily neglected among the couples. And we need to talk about this

  7. This is interesting, I didn’t realize recovery might take that long. I’m glad you were able to get through it.

    1. Thanks for commenting! I didn’t realize recovery could take that long either. No one seems to talk about it, but a longer full recovery time is apparently fairly common. I spoke with a doctor a while back and he said he never recommends a woman get pregnant within two years of a birth because it takes that long for the body to get fully back to normal. I had never heard that before, and I kinda wish I knew that at the time because I would have been more prepared.

  8. This is such an important topic for new parents but hardly talked about. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Kimberlie

    You provided an invaluable service with this blog post. My experience was similar. I was not healed and still hurt quite a bit after 6 weeks. The exhaustion of nursing and being a mom was challenging too.

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