Dear New Dads/Partners,

I’m writing to you today to help shed a little light on your new sex life with a newborn.  Yes, did you notice I said “new” there?   That is because there are significant changes that happen to a person’s body once they’ve given birth.  To win brownie points with your partner, it’s best that you understand these changes the better your life will be, and that includes the sex part too!  

I’m speaking from the perspective of a mom of two boys and as a women’s health physical therapist who specializes in postpartum recovery.   I mainly work with pregnant and postpartum women and the vaginal area is my specialty!  Well, that and the pelvis too.  Every day I see what childbirth has done “down there” and I’d like to enlighten you so you can have the sensitivity your partner so desperately needs. I’ve come up with 3 rules that all new partners would do well to abide by for a healthier, happier relationship with your partner.  

Rule #1:  Boobs are off-limits for a while- may be quite a while!

The demand of breastfeeding/chestfeeding a newborn is exhausting.  Your partner has the baby attached to their breast/chest every couple of hours. Sometimes it feels like for hours on end, and when you get done feeding, it’s time to do it all over again.   All this breastfeeding/chestfeeding can lead to cracked, sore, and sometimes bleeding nipples. 

So those nipples that you may have found fun to stimulate before baby, are no longer fun for most people.  Notice I didn’t say all people, but the last thing your partner may want is for someone else, other than baby, to be pulling on or playing with them. Please stay away until otherwise directed!  Ask your partner how they feel about this to confirm if I’m right or not.   

Rule #2:  Be a Giver

It feels like the only thing a new mom does for the first couple of months is to take care of the baby.  Their sole focus is on meeting your baby’s highly demanding needs.  Trying to figure out what every cry means is stressful and depleting for most people, probably you too.   It can feel like the baby is sucking the life force from you and new moms need to find a way to replenish that life force.  That’s where you come in.  

Take the baby and give mom some time to herself.  Encourage her to take care of herself, offer to draw her a bath, or go for a walk without the baby.  Even better, you could give her a foot rub, or a gentle back massage.  Touch her in a way that shows her you care and you don’t want anything in return or for it to turn into anything more than just your touch. Give, give, give to her, as much as you can.  You cannot over give to a mother of a newborn.   This will go a long way in winning you brownie points!

Rule # 3:  Go gently and slowly with sex the first time after birth

What used to be your snuggly little entryway into the vagina may have a completely different feel after baby.  It may feel like the Grand Canyon in there or you may be surprised to find it hard to even make your way in.  That’s why the slow and gentle approach is needed after birth.  

If your partner tore at all during birth this area can be somewhat to extremely resistant to your entry.  The more your partner tore, the more scar tissue forms to mend the tissue together afterward.  Scar tissue is less pliable and stretchy than regular tissue.  It takes time for the tissues to be able to expand to allow for penetration.  Intercourse is the best way to mobilize and stretch out scar tissue if it’s willing to release!  And that’s a big IF! 

Painful Penetration Help

Here’s what should happen if the scar tissue is going to release through your help.  The first attempt at intercourse may be uncomfortable and painful for her so don’t be surprised if you don’t get to enjoy yourself fully.  But each successive time should get less painful for her, as long as six months haven’t passed in between each attempt!  Eventually, over time, and each successive attempt the pain should lessen and subside and you both should be back to your old selves.

If however, her pain level remains the same and it doesn’t get easier or better after several attempts, she needs to seek out a Birth Healing Specialist or a Pelvic Health Physical Therapist to get some massage work done to release her scar tissue.   Do not let yourselves think it will just get better over time, most likely it won’t.  When she sees her doctor and is told everything looks normal and fine in there, “just try a little more lubricant” or “drink more wine beforehand”, that’s not going to help either!  Get her into a practitioner that works with the pelvic floor muscles so she can get the muscles released so you both can enjoy yourselves again sooner rather than later!   

Doctors don’t always understand the muscles and connective tissues in the vaginal area.  These tissues need to be able to expand and stretch.  When they are checking your partner out, they aren’t testing to see what the tissues can do, they are just looking at them.  They may look normal and well healed, but they can’t move, expand, or stretch out.  That is the problem! 

So we just discussed one of the issues with painful intercourse, pain with penetration.  There is another issue that may develop, and this is usually more associated with c- sections, but not always.  You may have no problem getting inside, but once you start thrusting you can cause them pain.  This is pain with deep thrusting.

Deep Thrusting Pain

Deep thrusting pain is an issue with the inner vaginal tissues not being able to move up and down with your thrusting.  Usually, scar tissue from a c-section is blocking the mobility of the cervix and uterus from moving out of the way.  It may feel like you are hitting a brick wall or she may feel that you are.  The inability of the vaginal tissues to move up and down will cause this deep thrusting pain. 

Massaging her c-section scar can help with this issue.  On my YouTube channel I have a video that shows her exactly how to massage her scar.  The deepest layer is the most important one for helping with this issue.  If she isn’t able to reach that deepest layer, or she has trouble even touching her scar seeking professional help from a skilled practitioner who works with scar tissue and trauma would be helpful, one of my Birth Healing Specialists should be able to help out. 

Another cause of this deep thrusting pain could be that her organs aren’t in the same place as they were before baby.  If her uterus has dropped and is in the way with thrusting this same discomfort may be an issue.  Trying different positions can sometimes help.  Also getting help from a practitioner can be beneficial. 

So there you have it.  I hope you have a better understanding of what your partner needs in the first months of life with a newborn, especially with your expectations around sex. The more you can take care of your partner, when she allows you too (that’s a whole other issue and article), the better she should be able to care for your newborn. 

Congrats on the new addition to your family, and I wish you the very best in caring for your family. 

Lynn Schulte, PT

Institute For Birth Healing Founder

Birth Healing Specialist