Just as not that many babies are conceived in a moment of unbridled passion – more often at the behest of a bossy ovulation app – few post-natal women count down the days til their midwife check-up sex sign-off, frilly knickers at the ready.
It’s fair to say that lots of us, having temporarily converted our bodies into sleep-deprived baby nurturing pods, sore of boob and undercarriage, PJ-clad and smelling a bit like baby sick, are not all that preoccupied with jumping on our other halves, especially when the baby is, like, RIGHT THERE in the Moses basket.
But, no matter what you yelled during delivery about never allowing yourself to be swizzled into sexual shenanigans ever again, you probably will find yourself back in the saddle at some point. And this is how it’ll go.
“Let’s get this over and done with.”
Maybe you can’t wait to get back to it after birth, perhaps you’re feeling a little more meh about the idea. Either way, it’s a milestone (even if nobody makes a cutesy ‘Bonked for the first time last night!’ card you can take a selfie with the following morning), and it’s OK if reigniting the flames of passion with your significant other feels like bit of a chore.
“Am I still sexy?”
Growing a baby, giving birth and watching previously reliable boobs go ballistic; it’s hardly surprising that many women find their relationship with their body is in a state of flux. Some feel empowered, others find confidence has been knocked. Instagram’s packed with images of limber women showing off slender post-baby figures and other mums countering these with proudly post-partum pics of gently swollen tums, stretch-marks, scars, hard-workin’ boobs. There is no ‘right’ reaction, try not to compare yourself to others. It’s so personal, you’ll make peace with your body when you’re ready.
“Is this going to hurt?”
Vaginal delivery or c-section, it’s very, very normal to wonder whether sex will hurt the first time you do it again, especially if you’re still healing. Take your time. Cuddle. Communicate – this is a big deal for both of you, he’s not psychic and he may be concerned about hurting you. Use lube. Change position if you’re uncomfortable. If it’s painful, tell your midwife, health visitor or GP. And if it turns out you’re not ready after all, that’s totally OK. If you had a tough time giving birth, talking through your experience with your hospital’s birth reflections team or another counselling service can be hugely helpful.
“Oh my god WHAT IF I GET PREGNANT AGAIN?”
Sperm. We spend most of our adult lives dodging the chaos-delivering little swimmers then roll out the metaphorical welcome mat when we’re ready to get pregnant. Post birth, when we’re VEEEERY aware of their potential power, the idea of being within a two metre radius of one sperm, let alone 200 million of them can be nerve-wracking. You may find yourself glaring suspiciously at your naked partner as if he were carrying a poorly-secured bag of snakes and spiders, then checking the condom afterwards with a magnifying glass. If you don’t want to conceive again, talk to your health visitor about contraception to make sure you’re protected.
“The baby. The baby. The baby.”
You may find yourself breaking the sex fast in your bedroom with the baby snoozing in the Moses basket, or on the landing because you just… can’t. Perhaps you’ve persuaded somebody to look after your little one so you can have your inaugural post baby ‘date night’ (takeaway and a shag). It’s inevitable that part of your mind will be on the baby (Is she awake? Is this duvet covering everything? Should I keep my phone in my hand in case something happens? Should I call the sitter first so I can relax for the duration? Am I a bad person for enjoying myself for 4.5 minutes instead of tending to my child?). The fact is, a portion of your brain has now been permanently allocated to the 24/7 safety and security your offspring – welcome to parenthood!
“THIS IS WEIRD”
When you’re pregnant, your body feels like public property. After making small talk as a midwife separates your amniotic sac from your cervix with a gloved finger, giving birth in a room with at least one other person, flashing your stitches at any medical professional who turns up at your front door and, if you’re breastfeeding, suckling an infant every couple of hours in increasingly public locations, switching into sexy mode is quite the mental leap. So, the touching of boobs and bits is meant to be erotic again now? Taking things slowly is helpful – save the quickies for the ‘the toddler will be climbing into bed with us at 11pm but we haven’t done it for weeks, it’s already 9.45pm and I want to get some sleep COME ON THEN HURRY UP’ years.
“Huh. We should do that more often…”
If any niggles – mental or physical – do manifest during the course of the inaugural roll in the hay, don’t panic. Most are easily enough to rectify with a bit of help and advice from your favourite health visitor or GP, they’ve heard it all before. For the majority of women, that first bonk will answer all the questions that have been buzzing around in their heads: yes, it does still work, yes, they do still fancy you and yes, sex may have been relegated to the to-do list these days but is still satisfying to tick off the list.