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Checkups at the gynaecologist and obstetrician after your child is born often focus on physical health of the mother, of the baby, making sure the baby is settled in, feeding well, sleeping, etc.
The question that is often missing is about the sexual wellbeing of the parents.
The taboo topic is one that is hard to discuss between partners let alone with their doctor. However, the problem was deemed important enough to be addressed at the annual scientific meeting of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
Medical practitioners who attended the conference in Canberra this week were told they should check on the sexual wellbeing of the parents of young children.
There are several different opinions on the timeline for sex after pregnancy. Some seem to believe that women will be ready as soon as they get home from the hospital, a more common belief is that in six weeks things will be back to normal. A doctor at the conference recommended six years instead.
Women are often given a postnatal check-up about six weeks after the birth of their child, which should give doctors an opportunity to make sure the couple’s sexual wellbeing is healthy.
The rate at which women feel sexy again after childbirth or feel ready to engage in intercourse is very personal. Factors involved include post-delivery discomfort, exhaustion, post-natal depression and body image issues.
Men also occasionally deal with the trauma of watching their partner experience a difficult childbirth.
At the conference, the medical practitioners were told that childbirth can mean six years of bad sex, or at least sex not as good as it used to be.
There are dangerous side effects involved in sex just after pregnancy including tearing stitches and infection in the vagina and the womb. Women are also at risk of ‘air embolism’ when air gets into the blood vessels of a newly delivered womb. A case was reported in British newspapers where a man forced his wife into oral sex shortly after she came home from the hospital, puffed air into her and killed her.
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Sexual anthropologist Bella Ellwood-Clayton, who was invited to speak at the conference, said pre-existing sexual problems in couples tended to worsen after the birth of their first child and were at their most pronounced three to four years later.
“It’s really important that somebody knows that a lower libido is what the couple is going to be dealing with for a few years because it might not come as such a momentous shock for the couple. I think it’s important for people in the medical profession to take more of an active role in discussing the sexual side of pregnancy of birthing and of new parenting and for them to routinely inquire about couples’ sexual wellbeing. And if they do respond with concern to discuss these concerns and offer a wealth of reference on the material,” Dr. Ellwood-Clayton told the Sydney Morning Herald.
Your sex drive is something that should return naturally after childbirth and there is no official timeframe. However, it is something that should be discussed both with your partner and your physician, according to the medical conference.
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