Caroline Cranshaw: Tips for getting intimate after having a baby

Photo / Getty

Photo / Getty

Having sex after giving birth can be just as scary as your first time. I found having a baby exciting, empowering and terrifying all at once. The changes in your body can be confusing and knock your confidence.

Just to warn you, it's a well-known fact that a man's bits shrink after a woman has given birth. That's why you must ask for the extra golden stitch. At least this is what my mother told me when I was pregnant, which made me laugh so hard, I sprayed the ice water I was drinking out my nose. My midwife had to walk out of the birthing unit to regain her composure, as I retold the story as she was stitching me up straight after giving birth.

Childbirth, dealing with a newborn and parenting can be so overwhelming, you need to find the moments that make you laugh just to get through it with your sanity intact. And as a bonus, laughing is good for strengthening your pelvic floor.

Here are some tips on what to expect, and how to get your sex life back on track

1. How long should you wait before you have sex again?

The guideline is 4 to 6 weeks. And remember this is only a guideline. Some women feel ready before that, and some women aren't ready for months after that. Go with what feels right for you. Your body's been through a big ordeal, whether you've given birth vaginally, or had a caesarean. Both are traumatic in their own way, so be gentle with yourself and know that your body is amazing and will heal in its own time.

2. Are things going to feel different “down there?” 

To be frank, yes, they are. It all depends on how your birth was. For some women, things may be a bit looser for a while and for others, if you had a lot of tearing or stitches, it could be tighter and painful while you’re healing. After you've given birth, your body hormonally can mimic the signs of menopause. Estrogen levels drop, which can cause vaginal dryness, thinning of the vaginal walls, hot flashes and night sweats. I recommend using coconut oil or a water-based lubricant if you're using condoms to help “ease the way.”

3. What do I do, if things seem stretched out? 

Remember your vagina has a lot of muscles, and muscles can be strengthened and tightened up. Start with strengthening the pelvic floor muscles (the muscles that start and stop the flow of urine) by doing Kegel exercises (flexing and holding those muscles.)

Contracting those muscles and holding them, (starting with eight reps, up to three sets, every other day), will do wonders to bring things back to normal, not to mention preventing you from pissing your pants every time you laugh.

If you want to take it to the next level, I highly recommend Jade Egg practice (also known as a yoni egg). Basically, it’s vaginal weightlifting. It sounds way scarier than it is, and boy, does it work.

Jade Egg Practice has been around for over five thousand years starting in ancient China, where female royals and concubines of powerful men used it to strengthen the vaginal muscles. Legend has it that the Taoist practice was a closely guarded secret of the Royal Palace so the ladies of the court could maintain their youthful beauty and sexuality as they matured into old age.

Wait until at least eight weeks after giving birth before you try it. A jade egg may be made of Jade, or some use rose quartz and is inserted into the vagina and used while doing your kegel exercises. Think of doing squats vs doing squats with weights. The weighted exercise is going to strengthen the muscle faster. To find out more, check out.

Warning: Do not use if you have a IUD. Please get medical advice before trying a jade egg.

4. How do I get my libido back? 

If you're breastfeeding, mother nature will be doing its best to make you not interested, so you don’t get pregnant again too quickly. Breastfeeding releases oxytocin, a hormone that triggers bonding feelings toward the baby but also suppresses your libido. Know that once you wean your baby, your libido will come back.

As a mother, you are constantly giving your body, your time, your energy, your privacy, and your freedom - every day and all day until you feel like you’re empty. Sex may feel like someone is trying to take more from you. Find ways to fill yourself up. Breaks from the kids, time with your partner alone, outings with your friends, a pedicure, a nap are all ways you can recharge. You need to look after yourself; otherwise, you do a crappy job of looking after everyone else. It will come back if you look after yourself.

5. How do I get my partner to stop pestering me for sex?

Play him this song

I’ll never forget chatting with a group of women at a barbeque about we all felt harassed for sex. One of the women was in her 60’s and told us that when she was 20, she starting working as a student nurse. On her first day, she followed around another experienced nurse on her rounds, and the nurse was explaining what the different tools on her trolley were for. When the young nurse noticed a large metal spoon and asked what it was for, the older nurse winked at her and said “You’ll see. That’s probably one of the most useful tools you will need in this job.”

They went about their duties and looked after the patients, giving several sponge baths. Much to the young nurse's horror, the first man they gave a bath to - got a massive erection. The older nurse turned to the younger nurse, smiled as she grabbed the spoon, and said: “Here, let me take care of that for you.” And used the spoon to donk the man’s erection, which deflated like a balloon. We all howled with laughter, and I asked where I could buy one of the metal spoons. All kidding aside, I think communication is key. Men need to learn that one of the biggest turn on’s for women is to help out around the house and with the kids, and instead of guilt-tripping women into sex, try complements, foot massages and asking what your partner needs to feel sexy.

As a mum with two young kids on my way to the doctors, my first husband (now ex-husband) asked me to ask the doctor about what could I do for my low-libido. When I told the doctor what my husband had said, he asked if my husband helped out around the house, gave me breaks from the kids and told me I was beautiful? When I answered no, he wisely said: “Tell your husband, you have to give to receive.”

Sex is what keeps you from just being friends and flatmates, and it is beneficial to your relationship as well as your health. Know that it’s normal to have cycles of high and low sexual activity and after a bit of time, your sex life can be even better than before kids…

Caroline Cranshaw is a hypnotherapist, founder and trainer at the New Zealand Integrative Hypnotherapy Training Institute and the author of The Smoking Cure. Find out more about her at nzhypnotherapy.co.nz. Listen to Caroline's new podcast WTF Stories & Advice.