The Painful Truth Of Sex After Pregnancy

by Jessica Goodwin
Originally Published: 
sex after pregnancy
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When I got pregnant, I thought for sure that as my belly got bigger, my sex drive would get smaller. That was so not the case. Holy hormones! My husband and I enjoyed sex on the regular right up until about 36 weeks, when finally, everything went to hell.

Right when everyone started telling me that getting busy was a surefire way to trigger some contractions, and right when I was getting desperate to kick-start labor, sex kind of started to suck. I couldn’t see anything below my belly. No creative position was comfortable enough. It was hard for me to move. Those last few weeks of my pregnancy, if I was in bed, all I wanted to do was get a few hours of uninterrupted sleep without my hips aching or having to get up to go to the bathroom. I predicted that after childbirth, recovery, and the many sleepless nights that would follow, that sex would slip far, far down on my priority list.

But after the baby got here, I was surprised at how horny I was all of a sudden. It didn’t matter that we were both exhausted. Or that I was wearing a maxi-pad the size of a sofa cushion. My husband and I couldn’t keep our hands off of each other. Even after feedings at 3 in the morning, we’d get back in bed and start pawing at each other and making out like high school kids (actually, we knew each other in high school and we never made out with each other like that).

Seeing how I was feeling so frisky, we started counting down the days ’til my six-week postpartum checkup. I didn’t want to have sex until my doctor gave me the all clear, so I felt like a kid counting down ’til Christmas. When the big day rolled around, I happily put my ankles in the stirrups, the doctor pronounced that everything on the inside was great, said my C-section incision had healed nicely, and asked me what I’d like to do “to protect myself against sperm”—her words. I told her what birth control pill I’d been on prior to getting pregnant, and she said she’d phone in a prescription right away. Cha-ching!

Then she wheeled her stool a little closer to me and shit got serious. Except everything she said I kind of shrugged off, like she didn’t know what she was talking about.

“So…sex after pregnancy. Just so you know, it’s not going to be great.”

Are you kidding me? You have no freaking idea how horny I am.

“It probably won’t even be good.”

Yeah, OK, lady.

“It might even feel like your first time all over again. It could hurt.”

What the hell are you talking about? I don’t even remember my first time.

But OMFG, it hurt. It was terrible. Insert synonym for “awful” here.

A couple nights later, we decided to try again, only this time, my husband suggested a different position. Yeah, not much better. I wasn’t just taking it slow, I was taking it sloth. It would eventually get easier for me to move, but it still kind of hurt and most definitely didn’t feel like any of our pre-baby sexcapades. This, of course, messed with my head, because sex had never, ever been an issue with us before. It had always been fun and easy. This seemed like work—hard and painful work.

I was confused and frustrated beyond belief for two reasons. First, I’d had a C-section. It’s not like I’d had an extra stitch to tighten things up in that area or anything. But all of a sudden, it felt like I was having sex with a telephone pole—sideways. That brings me to the second puzzling thing. Even though I’d only pushed for a few hours before my C-section, I expected that if my vagina was going to be any different afterwards, it would be…a little out of shape and floppy? Looser, I guess? I had been afraid that sex after pregnancy wouldn’t feel as good (for both of us) because I might be a little stretched out. Instead, it felt like my vagina had shrunk three sizes.

I checked in with a couple friends, who all immediately suggested the same solutions. Lube? Good to go in that department. Me on top? Yeah, that only hurt slightly less than any of the other positions we tried. Glass of wine beforehand? Considering that I hadn’t had alcohol in almost a year, one glass of wine was enough to get me somewhere way past tipsy but not quite fucked up. But it still didn’t help.

Let me add: Sex with a baby in the other room? You know how people say it’s supposedly super hot to have sex in public or at a party or something because you have to be extra quiet so you don’t get caught? Yeah, whatever. There isn’t anything hot about trying to hold back your moans of “Oww!” while thinking about the sweet baby that is (finally!) asleep in a room 10 feet away.

Just when I was about to hit peak frustration, we tried again. I was expecting the worst, but this time, it didn’t hurt. I was relieved. So, so relieved. So what did I do? I started to cry, right in the middle of having sex. What did my husband do? He stopped having sex. He thought I was crying because I was in a ton of pain. After reassuring the poor, confused man that I was indeed just fine (“No, really. I’m fine. I promise. I swear. It’s good. Really, I promise”), we started again.

Thankfully, things proceeded normally, with everything working just like it was supposed to. Sure, sobbing in the middle of sex put a damper on the mood, but I was so ridiculously happy to have painless sex that I didn’t care. The next time was even better. So was the time after that, and after that…and, yeah, it gets better. It might take a while, and everybody’s different and all that, but at least it gets better.

Just don’t wake up the baby.

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