Valerie Gommon Midwife’s Blog

Archive for the ‘sex after childbirth’ Category

I have to say that I have never been a fan of Gina Ford.  Although I haven’t read her book “The contented little baby” from cover to cover, I’ve read enough to know that I completely disagree with her ideas of strict routines, indeed I wonder how any mother could cope with doing anything else if she followed Ms Ford’s advice as every moment of the day and night appears to be mapped out!

I was very interested in a parenting programme that was on TV a year or so ago which followed three couples who followed various styles of parenting; there was a couple who adopted a very strict time scheduled routine, a middle way and those who adopted an attachment style of parenting.  I was not surprised to learn that the couple who practised attachment parenting were the ones who got the most sleep!  Whilst I appreciate that this may not be for everybody, I think it is important for parents to know that they should listen to their instincts and parent in the way that makes them feel most comfortable and that they don’t have to listen to the “so-called” experts.

Back to Gina Ford, in her new book “The contented mother’s guide” she apparently is advising women that they should resume marital relations within four to six weeks after the birth.  Well, as a mother and a midwife I KNOW this will not be for everyone and indeed in some circumstances this could be positively dangerous and harmful.

As a midwife, women have sometimes shared their stories with me and I have known women who resume sexual relations within days of childbirth and I also know that there are women who wait a year (or more).  What is right for women couple will not be for another and you should follow your own instinct and not listen to a woman who has not had children herself!

For further information see https://midwifevalerie.wordpress.com/2009/01/03/sex-after-birth/

This has always been a subject that fascinated me, and one that I think we ought to speak more about.

Many women do not realise that they will bleed for some time after the birth; the “books” I believe talk about a couple of week, or perhaps up to a month, but in my experience the bleeding or “lochia” often lasts much longer than this.  This is not to say heavy bleeding, more like the end of a period with bleeding stopping and then starting again (often when the woman has been very active – I usually feel that this is nature’s way of encouraging more rest).  I really am unsure whether women bleed less after a caesarean – you can reply and tell me your thoughts – but I think this may be the case.  What I do know is that it is far from unusual for women to still have occasional bleeding at six weeks postpartum.

So … sex …. many books and professionals imply that the six week postnatal check with the GP is checking that “everything is back in place” and that you are ready to resume your sex life; I have also heard that in the past some doctors actually “expected” that you should have resumed sex by six weeks (your poor husband!).  I don’t believe it is as simple as that.  I know that there are some couples who resume sexual activity very early after the birth, and I also know that there are others who wait many months.  There is no RIGHT time, the time is right when you are both ready.

If the birth has been difficult, if you have stitches you will obviously need to wait until these are healed and you are comfortable; this combined with feeding a baby, lack of sleep and leaking breasts is not conducive to lovemaking. Some women also report feeling “touched out” because they are spending so much time touching their baby that they don’t want to be touched by their partner.  Take heart – all things are temporary and things will get back to a new kind of normal eventually.

If you continue to feel perineal (the area between the vagina and the anus) discomfort or pain then TELL SOMEONE – tell your midwife, your health visitor or your GP.  There is much that can be done to get you back to normal; you should not have long-term discomfort.

The first time you will need to take things slowly and gently and perhaps use some lubrication and you will need to consider contraception as, even though you are unlikely to fall pregnant whilst fully breastfeeding, it is still possible.  The six week postnatal check is an obvious time to discuss contraception, but if you do resume relations before then it would be wise to use a condom unless you know you wouldn’t mind another pregnancy.  As a midwife I do see clients who return pregnant sooner than expected, but I am also very aware that exclusively breastfeeding a baby (particularly if the baby feeds a lot at night) gives a high degree of protection. www.brook.org.uk/content/M2_1_12_familyplanning.asp and www.fpa.org.uk/information/leaflets/documents_and_pdfs/detail.cfm?contentid=159#4 are just two of the many websites offering information about natural family planning and contraception in general.


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