I had just had my baby. Obviously a lot of conversations emerged when friends and relatives visited. Surprise came in, when my girl-friends told me that their appetite for sex post-delivery was huge! I was shocked. Here I was, five weeks into my C-section and I absolutely did not want my husband to touch me! I felt odd. I felt embarrassed. I felt alone!
Here is penning my personal experience so people who feel like me and have been through what I have, know that they are not alone...
If someone asked me how I felt about sex after my son was born, I would have said that I couldn’t think of it in a lifetime! I couldn’t imagine how everyone said that four-six weeks after delivery, sex was normal. I thought to myself “Have they no idea that I have stitches? I would rather sleep for those 15 minutes than have sex! Damn, when is the vaginal bleeding going to stop?”
Even though I had a C-section and my son came of out my tummy, my lady parts wanted nothing visiting them! It not only seemed traumatizing, but the desire just wasn’t there. My husband was patient and he really wanted me to feel better emotionally and physically. But no matter how much time he gave me, I kept putting it off, convincing myself and my husband that it was the state of my stitches and I felt numb.
I was overwhelmed. Everything other than the baby had ceased to exist. I did not suffer from Postpartum Depression, but I had some dark moments. I couldn’t figure out how shitting and showering fit into my life anymore much less an intimate moment alone with my spouse!
Out of my obligation to ‘wife-ly’ duties, I sought an appointment with the OB-GYN. She gave us the ‘green’ signal. She said that the stitches were healing wonderfully and yes, I could get back on the horse!
That night we tried and it hurt as hell! It also put me off for longer! I just didn’t want it. And I could see the longing in my husband’s eyes. As with any long-term relationship, sex had been a topic of discussion before. There are days when one partner wants it and the other doesn’t. But because as a couple there is love, you always work around it.
Well this time, he would just have to wait till I was ready! And there were loads of reasons why I wasn’t ready.
Healing - it’s a process
During a c-section, doctors cut many layers of tissue and fat to reach the abdominal muscles. Once there, he or she will separate the muscles to expose the uterus, which is also cut. This procedure allows the baby to be extracted but also requires a great deal of stitching to put the tissue back together. A c-section also creates significant trauma to the body that yields unpleasant side effects.
Numbness in your vagina as a result of the vertical incision made during your c-section can also contribute to loss of libido. That incision cuts the muscles and nerves in your abdomen and it can take time for them to regrow. In some instances, the nerves never regenerate and simply remain numb. It is very common for women who have had caesarean deliveries to experience sexual struggles, especially in the early postpartum period.
A woman's uterus takes about six weeks to return to normal size and for her cervix to close back up. The physical timeline for a woman's body to heal "down there" is pretty much the same, no matter how she gives birth. The cervix needs to be closed in order for sexual relations to resume safely. It is also a whole lot dependent on your own comfort. So give yourself enough time to heal.
I was an emotional yo-yo! First it hurt me as a mother that I had not been able to give birth to my child as women are traditionally meant to. I was worried about the bonding. Then I wasn’t allowed to feed my baby for the first day (damn the epidural!) At no other point in my life had I seen so much change around me. I must confess, I had mixed feelings. I was happy, sad and even both at the same time.
With an onslaught of all these feelings, I also felt irritated and abandoned. Everyone was just so concerned about the new baby that what I had gone through seemed far less significant. Then there was the guilt of feeling these things or thinking “I’m going crazy!” But trust me, there’s nothing crazy about these feelings.
You may be able to cope more easily if you see these feelings early for what they are - normal emotions for many new mothers. Talking about your feelings can help. Call a friend, your mother, or a sister. Have a talk with your partner about how you are feeling. The baby blues are temporary and should pass.
Remember, there is always BabyChakra to fall back upon! You can write to us whenever you want! We’ll always lend a ear.
I remember wearing maternity pants for the longest time after the C-section. The stitches hurt, then they itched! I had a stomach which almost touched the floor and loads of stretch marks to adorn it. Oh and the breasts!
My breasts were milk factories and in between the milk leakage and nipple sensitivity and breast engorgement that would happen on and off, I instinctively felt a mental shift — that my breasts had shifted to a mothering role.
This was embarrassing and totally uncomfortable. My body ached, felt swollen and I just didn’t feel confident shedding it all in front of a man. It took me a long time to accept the scar the C-section left on me; to accept that my body had changed for life.
Pstt… I remember once when my husband sensually caressed my back I told him; had the laundry been done, maybe I would be in the mood! :(
My Son Slept In the Same Room! Another big issue for me was that I was just plain uncomfortable about the idea of having sex in the bed where my son is sleeping next to me. Maybe once we get our king-size bed I said! I’m not an “uptight” person, but I just don’t feel right about having sex next to my sleeping son.
So what worked finally?
Pregnancy and labor wreak havoc on the female body, but you must remember childbirth is a normal process. You’re on no pre-ordained timeline to heal and your body may never return to exactly what it was before you gave birth. Therefore, one of the keys to feeling like your old self is to be patient.
Regard yourself with kindness and compassion, and speak to your husband about taking it easy. Being with him, holding hands, kissing and cuddling before you plan to have sex. Go to bed without worry or pressure and experiment with lubricants and massage. A lot of vaginal dryness can be experienced because of the breast-feeding induced hormones. Lubricants really help at this stage.
I did a lot of Kegels to get my pelvic muscles back in place. But if you hit the six-month point and things still feel painful, let your doctor know.