Our guest on Friday for Crux of the Matter weekly tweetchat was Dr. Kelechi Okoro, popularly known as Healthertainer. Fondly called Dr. Kel by friends and close colleagues, she is also a Philanthropist, Social Media Influencer/Strategist who is more focused on public and mental health awareness. She has a robust social media platform which she uses to promote optimum health and total wellness. Her ‘Healthertaining’ mode of health information delivery has endeared her to many and generated impressive number of follower-ship in the digital space. She is the MD/CEO of Healthertainer Consults LTD.
Dr. Okoro was invited to speak on intimacy after childbirth and as usual, here is a recap of the 2hours conversation with Elsie Godwin on Crux of the Matter.
Types of Childbirth and Delivery Methods:
Routes of child delivery is broadly classified into two: Vaginal birth and Caesarean section
When via the vagina, it is called vaginal birth. This type of delivery method can be unassisted or assisted with the use of forceps or vacuum.
When incision is made on the abdominal wall, into the uterus to deliver the baby, it is called a caesarean section
Will childbirth affect a couple’s sex life? If yes, in what ways?
Oh yes. Childbirth comes with a lot of changes. Most pleasant and some unpleasant and hazardous to your relationship. There are a lot of physical changes and emotional changes that comes with childbirth.
Don’t expect your sex life to come back to normal instantly. It requires some effort to get back in the groove.
Sexual challenges associated with childbirth?
Most women get more attached to the new love of their life, the new baby, and get less interested in the old baby (hubby). Mothers are so exhausted after taking care of the baby hence little or no time to get intimate with their partner. This gradually takes them far and farther away from the bedroom and closer to the nursery room. Baby is happy while Father is starved.
Weight gained during pregnancy, also make them feel “unpretty” thereby leading to low self-esteem in the bedroom. This makes them uncomfortable with their postnatal body and feeling unattractive.
Most women have stretch marks on the abdomen after delivery. This may also make them feel unattractive.
Some are not ready to get intimate because they are still bleeding or bloody vaginal discharge after birth. Vaginal birth may come with pain, swelling or soreness/bruises around the genitals. Especially with assisted vaginal delivery.
Women who had an episiotomy during delivery, are undergoing a healing process and may not be in a hurry to rush back to sex.
About 85% of new mothers have to deal with vaginal soreness, swelling and lacerations for the 1st few weeks after delivery.
The vagina stretches itself to accommodate head of the baby, hence feels loose after delivery. This can make her feel unsexy. It makes women feel like they are not ready for sex for the fear of feeling too loose and not satisfying their partner.
Some women experience a persistent depressed mood after childbirth and this makes them irritable and uninterested in sex.
Even after birth, women still feel painful contractions from the uterus. This pain distracts them from craving intimacy.
Post pregnancy hormones cause vaginal dryness and makes sex painful and unpleasurable. This puts a strain on intimacy.
How soon can sexual activities resume after childbirth?
All things being equal, it is okay to resume sexual activity 6 weeks after delivery, after consulting with the doctor.
At 1st postnatal visit she should discuss her desire to resume sexual activity and be examined to ascertain medical fitness.
As a couple, decide together when you want to commence sexual intercourse, and if your doctor says you are ready, go ahead.
Some post-delivery states are normal, others come with complications, ergo the need to consult with your doctor when you desire to resume.
Considering the popular notion passed around by some men which insinuates the vagina becomes wider after childbirth…Does childbirth reduce sexual pleasure?
Newsflash: The vagina is forgiving in nature. It should return to its normal state 6 weeks after delivery, ceteris paribus.
With proper diet, vaginal care and Kegel exercise, the vagina returns to its pre delivery state after 6weeks.
Don’t wait till after delivery to start Kegels. Before & after, Kegels help to keep your vagina walls firm and tight.
From research, it is noted that oral sex should not be performed by a man on a woman after childbirth? For how long?
Yes. Stay away from oral sex in the 1st 6weeks. This can introduce infection into the vagina and even up to the uterus.
Breast Fondling after child birth:
Foreplay is encouraged to prep the woman for intimacy. So, if the woman feels no pain from fondling the breast, it is okay.
If breast is sore or engorged she may experience lot of pains. A warm breast compress instead of fondling will be best.
During sex, the breast may leak milk because of hormones. If the partner is comfortable with this, then it is okay
What happens to the female sex drive after childbirth?
Sex drive after childbirth is usually reduced. Mostly because of exhaustion and post pregnancy hormones.
Steps to take before sexual intercourse resumption after childbirth:
You have to make a conscious effort to get back in the mood. Also, it has to be a mutual effort between you and your partner.
Get a “reliable” help to care for the baby to avail you more time in the bedroom with your partner. Emphasis on reliable…
Communication is key. Communicate with your partner and get them to be ready for the experience. Be a team.
Tell your partner how you want to be handled. Where to touch and where not to. Where it hurts and where gives pleasure.
Start softly. Go Gently. Start with a lot of foreplay before penetration. It must be more pleasure and less pain.
Chose sexual positions that are less painful & more comfortable. Missionary position is painful for Women who underwent CS.
Generally, after birth, women are more comfortable when they lie on top or side by side during sex.
The woman should dictate the pace and position during sexual intercourse to maximise pleasure and reduce pain
Liberal Use of lubricants to increase vaginal wetness is encouraged if vagina is too dry
The male must be gentle and patient. If possible, stall penetration till the female is emotionally and physically ready.
Treat sexual intimacy as a priority! Write it on your to-do list and come up with ways to make it exciting and desirable.
What do you do if the woman doesn’t regain her interest in sex within 6weeks and 6months?
Some women who experience Postnatal Depression find it hard to regain interest in sex. She needs to see a doctor
Communication and emotional support will help in this case. The male partner must be ready to help her get back in the mood.
A new mother with Postnatal Depression may not detect it herself. Her partner/family must help her seek medical attention.
Can the decision to resume sex be more personal than medical?
The decision is personal but must you must be cleared medically by your doctor/midwife before intercourse is resumed.
Is breast feeding a reliable method of birth control?
As they say “in medicine, nothing is 100%. Exclusive breastfeeding is about 98% effective. So it cannot be totally relied on. It is advised to opt for more reliable forms of contraception if you don’t want to get pregnant within a set period of time.
There are a lot of available options of contraception to choose from. Talk to your doctor or a family planning counselor.
How can sexual confidence be built as a woman who is experiencing body changes? And how can the husband help?
While working to get your pre-natal body back, rock your post-natal body. Wear flattering clothes that make you feel good. New mothers need to be intentional about their postnatal appearance! Do/wear things that boost your self-esteem.
Go shopping! Buy new lingerie’s that flatter your body. You have the license to be naughty and adventurous.
Get creative in the bedroom. Scented candles, rose petals, role playing, etc .. Anything to spark up the room
What makes you feel sexy? New hairdo? New nails? Dressing up? A day at the spa? Well, just do something that rev you up.
Dear Hubby, be loving and patient. Pamper her. Help her get back in the groove. Say nice things to her. Encourage her, hold her hands, kiss her all over, cuddle and just be intimate with her. It improves mood, body perception & sexual craving.
Noting that the first time sex after childbirth can be painful, does sex after childbirth get better?
Pain arises when the woman is not physically and emotionally ready for sex. Some women develop PID(Pelvic Inflammatory disease) before, during or after delivery and if left untreated causes dyspareunia.
Yes it gets better! The couple should note what makes it pleasurable and do more of it & desist from what makes it painful.
Sex begets sex! The more pleasurable sex you have, the more you want to indulge. More sex will improve intimacy.
Join us every Friday by 7pm on twitter with the hashtag #CruxoftheMatter for interesting and insightful conversations. Also watch Crux of the Matter on R2TV (GOTV 112) every Wednesday/Thursday at 9:30pm.
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