It could be while one is still pregnant, or it could be during the postpartum period – at some point, the question will start floating around: what would sex or intimacy look like after birth? It isn’t always the easiest thing to picture, as sex can seem really daunting after everything your body has gone through during birth.

Here, certified intimacy and relationship expert Andrea Tan of Athena Rising shares how you can feel comfortable – both physically and mentally – with postpartum sex.

I don’t feel sexy after having a child, and my body feels foreign to me. How can I rediscover my body again?

Congratulations mama! Your body nurtured another human being for nine months. Do allow an appropriate amount of time to heal physically post child-birth. Ensure that your basic needs of rest, diet and movement so you have energy and attention to reconnect with what being sexy feels like for you personally.

Childbirth is also a physically taxing process on the body. Feeling sexy again has nothing to do with your level of desire for sex or arousal. In fact, reclaiming your sexuality post childbirth is a mix of physical recovery, and reconnecting with your sexual and emotional identity?

Physical recovery includes pelvic area muscle recovery or rehabilitation. Emotional and identity include areas around embracing your identity as a mother and as a sexual being, while learning to appreciate your body through the changes of childbirth.

Sexual recovery includes identifying how our body responds to arousal and sexual touch after giving birth, and developing an awareness of how our body cues have changed through the process of pregnancy and postpartum recovery.

For example, you may:

  1. Have a regular self-pleasure ritual. Set aside a set time to sensually and sexually self-pleasure by yourself. This allows you to also slow down and observe if you arouse differently post childbirth.
  2. Allow yourself to reconnect the sense of touch with feeling sexy and comfortable in your body. I like to suggest to moms to incorporate this in their shower or moisturising routine, as your hands come into contact with your skin.
  3. Have a ready ‘get your groove in’ playlist. Songs that you know will pick you up. Take short breaks through the day just moving however you want with 1 or 2 songs. Movement practices allow the release of tension and to reconnect with your body.

I’m worried that sex after childbirth will never be the same. How do I rebuild the connection with my partner?

Communication and connection should not stop pre-and post childbirth. As a couple grows in intimacy, big gestures are appreciated but it’s the small things that go a long way.

One way to be intentional about rebuilding any change of connection is to insert a little play and fun. I always encourage partners to flirt with each other. This is important especially when both of you navigate the stresses and changes with a newborn.

Show appreciation to each other as both of you adjust to new schedules. After all it feels good when your partner acknowledges you in what you do in the relationship, even after some time together.

Schedule in quality time to spend together. If date night is difficult to arrange without available help, at least agree to some scheduled downtime at home together where you can connect one-on-one. In fact, schedule time for sex as well. With a newborn, you’d be adjusting to various activities and before you know it, yet another week has passed without any intentional time together.

It may seem obvious but I realise couples tend to forget this: Listen to each other’s concerns and hopes for sex after childbirth. You’d be surprised but both of you would likely be concerned about different issues around sex after childbirth, or have different expectations.  Communicate those with each other during your scheduled one-on-one time.

Men, here’s what you can do for your wife:

  1. Find ways to release sources of stress for your wife.  If it’s giving some time for herself to do the above, or just allowing her to feel less overwhelmed with all there is to do for the baby and herself.  Stress tends to affect a woman’s ability to relax enough for her to enjoy sex.
  2. Genuinely compliment her. As she is adjusting to her body changes during pregnancy and postpartum, it helps for her to know that she is still desired.

Text: Cheryl Lai-Lim/Her World