Postpartum

Postpartum Sex Drive: Impact on Libido and How to Get Your Sex Drive Back After Giving Birth

Postpartum Sex Drive: Libido & Lube After Giving Birth

Transcript:
L is for lube and libido, you guys, I couldn’t separate the two, we had to go into them both. Libido is sex drive and we are talking about postpartum sex drive. 

Lube and libido, both things that have a huge impact on our sex and intimacy after baby, and we’re going to break down, what happens to our libido after we have a baby, what kind of lube might be right for you, and how we can kind of get into this sexual intimacy space again, without feeling like shit.
And without just trying to get it done.
Because believe me,I know that some of us have had these experiences where we’re just trying to get it over with. And actually, I want your intimacy to be fulfilling and exciting and good for you, even as a new mom.

What Is Libido and Does It Change After Giving Birth?

Things that impact sex drive, libido in new moms

First, what is libido? And how is it impacted in the lives of new moms?
So libido is this term used to describe the sex drive or desire that one has. It might be a high libido it might be a low libido. A high sex drive, or we’re ready we’re raring to go, or low sex drive- no, I’m not interested.

Your libido can be impacted by internal and external factors. This means the hormones that are inside speak to your body, your body talks to itself and interacts with other parts, and so our hormones can tell us if our sex drive is elevated or not.

Sleep, Hormones and Libido After Birth

Other things like stress, lack of sleep, and other circumstances can impact this postpartum sex drive or libido. Specifically, when it comes to new moms, libido can be impacted by hormone levels, which we know in postpartum are all over. They’re like riding this roller coaster for a number of reasons.

But our hormones are changing, they’re going up, they’re or going down, they’re regulating in different areas. And so for some women, this might mean an escalated libido, maybe you are feeling it more than you ever did. Or, more often than not, this can be decreased levels of postpartum sex drive and libido.

Breastfeeding Impact on Sex Drive

Second, but not totally unrelated, is breastfeeding. So if you are nursing, or perhaps you’re pumping, the breastfeeding can impact libido because of the way that breastfeeding requires hormone levels to fluctuate and to change. And so what it takes to produce the prolactin that we need for lactating can also have a negative impact on our libido, it can make it much harder for us to have that desire.
RELATED: Boob Problems After Birth 

Touched out and Postpartum Sex Drive

Along the same lines is this touch out. When you are breastfeeding or you are holding your baby or snuggling, you’re doing skin to skin you have someone really dependent on you, you can very easily become touched out, you’re done. You don’t want this physical intimacy, you want your body to be left alone. This is another common factor I hear.

Feeling Too Overwhelmed and Exhausted for Sex

Another thing that can impact libido is mental overwhelm. And linked to that is exhaustion. So if you are so overwhelmed, you have so many things running through your brain, you have no time to give your brain the space to de-stress and to enter a place of even thinking about having a sex drive and having intimacy. Along with that is the exhaustion. We can’t get mental clarity, we can’t be proactive, we can’t have a lot of the things that it requires to get into that libido, sex drive space, when we have mental overwhelm and exhaustion.

Postpartum Depression and Postpartum Sex Drive

Postpartum depression, again, we’re talking about hormones. We’re talking about this kind of mental and emotional shift. Postpartum depression is often linked to low libido. Unfortunately, a lot of the medications (but not all of them) that we use to treat postpartum depression, these different SSRIs can have a side effect of lowering your libido as well. And so this is something to discuss with your medical provider.
Related: Postpartum Resources

How to Deal with Low Libido After Giving Birth

1. First, I encourage you to take away the pressure to make it to a certain ending point. Okay, so when you’re re-entering intimacy with your partner, when there’s this pressure to get to this certain place, such as an orgasm, then we have this kind of mental overwhelm. With this pressure we feel guilty. There’s a lot of interacting factors here. So take off that pressure as you’re getting back into intimacy.

Don’t focus on the ending point, but focus on the experience.Not the destination, the journey and work on how you can reinvigorate that intimacy.

RELATED: Sex After Baby, Am I Ready?

2. It’s important to know that it can take a lot more time and energy for you to warm up. This means more foreplay, which may be physical foreplay, but this might also be this mental and emotional connection that you’re requiring from your partner. If you’re feeling extremely overwhelmed, you’re going to need this communication and connection point with your partner. So that you can get into a place of knowing things are taking care of, I can take this space, I can enter a space of even thinking about intimacy and trying to reinvigorate my libido.
So let your partner know what you need.

Maybe it’s some sexy text throughout the day, maybe it is taking care of the kitchen and making sure that’s all cleaned up so that you don’t have to think about it and you can enter this intimate space. Maybe it is some physical kind of foreplay. Think about what it requires for you to warm up and give your libido a chance to even be activated.

Vaginal Dryness After Having a Baby

how to choose a good lube for postpartum sex

When you get to the place where you’re like, Okay, I found my sex drive and entering this space, I can start to get into it again, you might notice that you have a lot of dryness. So we’re going to talk also about lube and how this plays into everything.

So these hormone shifts of postpartum can also cause a lot of vaginal dryness. Breastfeeding can prolong this. I’m telling you lube, lube, lube, liberal amounts of lube when you are returning to intimacy after having a baby.

PSST: Want to know my two favorite natural lubes? Cocolube & Good Clean Love

Which Lube Will Work for You for Postpartum Sex?

For some of you that might be unusual. Maybe that wasn’t what you were used to before. Maybe you feel a little discouraged, like, Oh, do I even want this? Is my body telling me a different message? But know that vaginal dryness is very common. It won’t last forever, and lube can be your best friend.

So when we’re looking for lube, I’m actually encouraging you to be mindful of what kind of lube you’re using.
-Because it’s going in and on your vagina, which is kind of a delicate space and worth taking care of.
-Because some of them can actually not work well with you.

So one question you want to ask yourself is if this will pull any of the natural moisture out of your vagina, we don’t want this. These are the lubes with propylene glycol and glycerol. These two elements can actually extract the moisture from your vagina instead of adding extra to it.

Another question you want to ask yourself is if the lube you’re using is compatible with whatever your preferences are. So if you’re using condoms, is this a lube that is compatible with condoms? Is it something that you can use in the water? Is it toy friendly?

How to get over low sex drive after having a baby

Postpartum Sex Drive: Learn More & Talk to Other Moms

So for the taboo ABCs of postpartum for L we have chosen lube and libido because these are such important parts. And these are things that are so commonly experienced by women but not talked about. So don’t be afraid to bring this up with your medical provider with your friends with the postpartum together new mom groups because it is common to have a change in libido and it is also common to need some extra lube and there should be no shame about that.

Back in the Sack Postpartum Sex eCourse

Want to learn more about the changes in your body, mind, and emotions after a baby and how it can impact your intimacy?
Is your partner sexually frustrated and you’re unsure how to talk about postpartum sex and intimacy?
Do you want to communicate and connect better so that your sex life can improve?
Want ideas for ways to connect?

Check out Back in the Sack: A self-paced eCourse.
In this eCourse you’ll hear from a number of experts who share all about your body and brain after baby and how you can get back into the groove with confidence and connection (instead of resentment and fear).

Postpartum

The 6-Week Postpartum Check-Up: How to Maximize Your Postpartum Care

How to prepare for your postpartum exam. Do you need to go to your 6 week check up? How to know when you need more checkups after giving birth.

C is for Check-Up: The 6 week Postpartum Check Up at

Transcript from video:
Oh, hey, it’s time for another blog on the taboo ABCs of postpartum. C is for checkup, and we’re going to be talking about that usually only one postpartum checkup you get which is usually a 6 week check up (sometimes between 4-8 weeks). Now, for the record, I don’t think one checkup is sufficient at all. But we are going to talk about how to maximize that checkup. Also we discuss what to talk to your provider about and how to be your own best advocate.

If you’re new here, my name is Chelsea Skaggs. I am a postpartum coach and the founder of Postpartum Together. And we are freaking committed to making sure that the postpartum narrative changes so that women are more educated, normalized, supported and empowered in the postpartum season.

Now, reminder, postpartum is not just a few weeks. Postpartum is the year ish after baby. And postpartum is not just related to depression, postpartum is a season we all go through regardless of a diagnosis or not. So postpartum is the season after baby full of transitions that we all go through as birthing humans.

Related: Where do we learn about postpartum?

We Believe Women Deserve More Check Ups After Baby

A whole other tangent is that one postpartum checkup is not enough. The ACOG (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) recommend comprehensive follow-ups after having a baby. One appointment is not comprehensive follow up. However, we still have this issue of insurance and providers and the communication and honoring the postpartum season. We know that postpartum is a time that is often just kind of disregarded and pushed under the rug, and we’re not given full on comprehensive support. So we’re going to talk today about how to make that one 6 week check up appointment the best it possibly can be. We also discuss if and when you need to how to advocate for more appointments and more care for yourself.

Now, usually, this appointment happens between four and eight weeks. If you had a belly birth, you might have an earlier appointment. Depending on circumstances, it’s probably going to be somewhere between four and eight weeks. At this point, you’re still healing in a lot of ways. You are still living in a lot of a fog. This is kind of a survival mode.

I know from my own experience, and from some of my clients that when we go to that appointment, it’s hard to even know where to start what to ask. Chances are your provider is going to ask some questions, checking on you, but they may not address all the things that you actually need them to address in that appointment. It’s important that you come in proactively knowing what you need answers to and what you need checked on so that you can feel confident to leave that appointment and continue healing and continue growing as a new mom.

What to ask at your Postpartum 6-Week Check Up

So the first thing is that physical healing, right, they’re likely going to check your whether it’s a belly incision, whether it’s in the vaginal tearing and repair that is happening in that area. No matter how you gave birth, there is recovery, they’re probably going to check how your bleeding is- is it down to very minimal or has it stopped at this point? They’re going to check if everything is healing- scars are healing, how is that doing? If you’re still experiencing pain, this is a good time to bring that up like hey, I’m still feeling this way. Is there something that I should be concerned about? Do you know something I can do about it?

Related: Postpartum Plan Checklist

While we’re talking about physical healing, I want you to bring up your pelvic floor. This doesn’t always come up in appointments from a lot of my clients, we actually have to go out and self advocate for this. You carry the baby, right in this vicinity, resting on your pelvis. And regardless of if you gave vaginal or belly birth, you had a baby resting on your pelvis, affecting your organs, affecting the tissue in the muscle and everything that makes up your pelvic floor.

Asking about the Pelvic Floor at your 6-week checkup

In some countries, pelvic floor therapy is standard care for everyone after baby. Here in the US, we often have to either have a big problem we bring up or we have to advocate.
Hey, I know my body went through a lot of stress, I think that pelvic floor therapy would be beneficial for me.
Chances are, it would be beneficial for you. But we know that especially if you’re feeling:
-Bearing down weight called prolapse.
-Experiencing pain & incontinence.
-Once you’re ready to start having sex again, if that is painful and uncomfortable.
These are good times to talk about pelvic floor therapy.

Be that bridge, again, be your own best self advocate.

Related: What is the pelvic floor?

Ask about Mental Health at your Postpartum Check Up

Now, also at this appointment, you’re likely going to get a mental health screening, this is for postpartum depression. I’m going to tell you right now, it has some language in it that can be suggestive, and in my opinion, a little tricky. Some questions are like, I feel sad for no good reason. And you’re like, well, I don’t know everything in my life just changed. Is that a good reason? Or is that not a good reason? I don’t know who’s the judge of whether this is a good reason.

If you’re feeling off, don’t feel ashamed of how you need to answer those questions. And don’t feel like there’s not room to press into it more and ask your provider to talk more with you about your mental health.  Depression is not just feeling sad, it can be rage or other experiences.

It doesn’t have to be: “I can’t get out of bed.” It sometimes is, and that’s worth addressing, too. But know that in motherhood, you’re going to feel off, you’re going to feel different. But if you’re just really feeling like your day to day is compromised, bring that up. Don’t let that screening be where it stops. I passed screenings in situations where I likely needed more support. That phrasing like “for no good reason” really threw me off. Like my whole life just changed, and my vagina is falling apart, and I haven’t slept like that feels like a good reason. So talk more about that.

Mental Health and Birth Trauma

If you experienced birth trauma, it is important to consider how that could have impact you. It could impact your bond and your relationship with your baby, your relationship with your body, your confidence as a mom. So these are all important things to bring up in the 6 week check up. If you feel like you would benefit from therapy that’s okay, too. There’s no shame in that. Ask your provider if they have a maternal health therapists that they would recommend. Maybe it’s someone in the network.

Related: Postpartum Anxiety Story

Sex & Exercise After the 6-Week Check Up

I want you to make sure that you are talking about more than just your reengagement.  We think of this six weeks as like, check mark, you can have sex and exercise now. But you guys, it’s not that simple. You don’t have to start your same intense workouts right after baby and you don’t have to get back to sex in the same way right after baby. So don’t look at this as just like this green light means go full force, I’m healed. You are not healed at six weeks.

It takes intention and it takes getting back into things. So ask your provider, “What would be an appropriate way to get back into exercise? What would be an appropriate way to move back towards intimacy. Again, we want this to be a positive experience for you. Do not be afraid to ask more questions and go a little bit deeper. Your provider is probably going to also talk to you about family planning. Go into it knowing-what do you want? Know that you have a say and you can ask those questions about what are what are the risks, what are the benefits and find the best solution for you.

Purpose of the Postpartum 6-Week Check Up

I want you to feel like this checkup is about you and that you are worthy of the time and the space that it takes and that it is not rushed, that it is not blown off. If you need more appointments, make another appointment. Tell them that you need their support.

A lot of people think that postpartum depression, anxiety, OCD, bipolar, like all of these things happen in the first few weeks. And that’s not always the case, it can have an onset at three or six or nine months.

And then your pelvic floor- if you are three months out, and you start to have sex again and it’s really painful, you need to talk to them about getting that pelvic floor therapy. If, you’re having incontinence, which means that you’re not holding your fluids in- peeing, pooping, farting without control, you can schedule that appointment and continue to talk about those things.

Be Your Own Best Advocate: Prepare for Postpartum and Maximize the 6 Week Check up

Don’t feel like your postpartum care has to be limited. We have to be our own best advocates. And that comes from understanding what to bring to the table advocating for our own best needs, and really using that time.

So I hope that this helps you to be more prepared for your postpartum checkup. Whether it’s coming up in a day a week, or you’re you know, just right now expecting or thinking about conceiving, know that this is a space where you deserve time, you deserve attention, and you deserve to have the resources and support.

Again, I am Chelsea Skaggs and the founder of Postpartum Together if you are pregnant girl, get my postpartum planning ecourse that is going to walk you through all the things you need to have prepared for an empowered and supported postpartum and life after baby. If you are you know already postpartum, Maybe you want to grab the postpartum sex Back in the Sack eCourse where we talk about the mental, the emotional, and the physical implications of intimacy again after baby. Maybe you need some extra support, some guidance, some tips, resources and empowerment, check out our postpartum together small groups.

Postpartum, Pumping

DMER in New Moms: Anxiety When Breastfeeding by Pumping or Nursing

Anxiety When Breastfeeding: A Hormonal Response, Not Mood Disorder

D-MER is a physiological response to the release of breast milk. It can feel like sadness or anxiety when breastfeeding. It is a hormonal reflex and is not an indicator of a mood disorder. The feelings should not last more than a few seconds or minutes. I remember wondering if my body or mind was telling me I didn’t like breastfeeding or wasn’t connected with my baby. Research shows D-MER to have no link to mother-baby bond and to be uncontrollable by the mother.

RELATED: Myths About Motherhood

Many women learn about D-MER by searching things like “I feel sad when breastfeeding” or “I don’t know if my body likes breastfeeding.” According to d-mer.org, “Dysphoria is defined as an unpleasant or uncomfortable mood, such as sadness, depressed mood, anxiety, irritability, or restlessness. Etymologically, it is the opposite of euphoria.” In reference to D-MER we can see that the unpleasant or uncomfortable mood impacts the milk ejection reflex.

RELATED: Boob Issues After Baby

woman breast pumping and feeling anxious from DMER

D-MER is Not a Mother Failing

It is important for moms to know that D-MER is not a failure or a direct reflection of their ability to breastfeed. The anxiety when breastfeeding is not an active choosing to not attach to your baby or hold any negative feelings. This understanding can help moms to make an educated and supported choice on whether to continue feeding through the experience.

Some believe that things like nutrition, rest, exercise, reducing stress and cutting back on caffeine can impact the hormones and improve D-MER symptoms. (I know, I know, all of those things can be hella hard to do when you have an infant!) Remember, your maternal mental health is always an important factor.

10 Things Moms on Instagram Said about D-Mer

When we brought up D-MER on Instagram, moms had a lot to say about it! Maybe some of their responses will resonate with you too:

  • It was such a relief to realize I wasn’t alone. To love breastfeeding but experience that feeling of dread was so very confusing.
  • You just solved something I thought I was making up. I say to myself “I’m just sleep deprived” or “I had too much caffeine today” but it comes and goes with my let down 2-3 times a day.
  • I did not know this was a thing but have totally experienced this and wondered “What’s wrong with me?”
  • My mother recounts this with my youngest sibling. She switched to formula and internalized not trusting herself with the baby for months.
  • I had it through all three of my kids. Breastfed a total of 7 years. Deep breathing and mindfulness techniques helped.
  • Totally had this. It was like a mini anxiety attack just as I was getting set up to pump and it would go away shortly after letdown.
  • I felt this way sometimes and I felt so yucky! I couldn’t explain it because it almost came out of nowhere and disappeared just as quickly.
  • With my first baby I would ball my eyes out the first 5-10 min of nursing her. I could be happy as could be, start nursing and tears would start flowing. I thought I was crazy.
  • It doesn’t happen all the time but when it does it’s awful. That foreboding, sense of dread and anxiety. Someone said it’s a homesick feeling and that’s such a good explanation. Just dread.
  • I told my mom about how I was feeling and she thought I was on the verge of a mental breakdown.

What to Do If You Have Anxiety While Breastfeeding

If you’re experiencing D-MER the first thing to know is that you’re not alone and you’re not doing something wrong. Our bodies have many changes and responses to pregnancy, birth and postpartum and it looks different for everyone. As your hormones are regulating, you may experience D-MER. If you do, remember it won’t last long and you can get through it.
1. Take deep breaths. (Almost like labor!)
2. Create a mantra Ex: This is only a moment and I accept this moment.
3. Stay connected
4. If it persists or becomes too much, talk with your doctor about

Postpartum

Navigating Your First Period After Having a Baby

What to Expect From Your First Period after Baby- and When Will it Return?!

After giving birth, there is a period of time before you start to experience a menstrual cycle again. You may be wondering if your periods will be different during postpartum after baby or how long it will take for your period to return. While periods after birth vary greatly, there are some things you can expect when it comes to having your first period after baby.

Chances are, it has been awhile since you had your last menstrual cycle. While pregnant, there is no ovulation and no period (except for VERY RARE cases of superfetation.)

RELATED: New Mom New Baby Postpartum Guide

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional.  I am a postpartum coach and mother of 2. While all content on Postpartum Together is created with research and best practices, do not replace any information with the direct care of your medical provider. Also this site may use affiliate links which means, at no additional cost to you, Postpartum Together may receive a portion of commission from any sales.

what to expect from your first period after having a baby

When Should My Period Return After Giving Birth?

The return of your period can happen anywhere from a few weeks postpartum to months- even a year+ after giving birth. On average the return of period is around 74 days, but breastfeeding can draw out the time it takes for your period to return because of the hormone levels.  While it is not common for a woman to ovulate while she is breastfeeding, it can happen (and yes, you can get pregnant while breastfeeding!) Your body produces more prolactin when you are breastfeeding to stimulate milk production. This usually keeps your ovaries from releasing eggs and, in turn, not experiencing periods.

Are Periods After Baby Different?

It’s likely going to take a few cycles for you to feel like your period is back to “normal.”  You may have fewer or more days between cycles, your flow may be heavier or lighter and PMS, cramping and other symptoms can feel different after giving birth. If you are noticing a difference in your menstrual cycles, don’t be alarmed. Pregnancy, birth, and postpartum cause many fluctuations in your hormones and the impacts go beyond the days of birth and early postpartum. This means we can’t give you a direct answer about what to expect from your period after baby, which is probably frustrating, but know that if periods feel different or you don’t know what to expect, you’re in good company. Most women notice some kind of change at least for the first couple of cycles.

RELATED: Postpartum Emotions

Will I Have Less Menstrual Cramping After Birth?

Often women with endometriosis or other painful period experiences are told they may have less cramping and pain in periods after going through pregnancy (I remember being told this when I was in high school and first prescribed birth control for my periods which, in another story, wasn’t great.) The reason you may experience less pain after birth is again hormones. Increased progesterone levels can carry over from pregnancy and birth which impacts endometrial tissue and can result in less painful periods. This can be a welcomes reprieve after birth, though this does not mean periods will continue to be less painful (I know, bummer).

Some women do enjoy less painful periods after birth. This can be from the cervix and uterus changing shapes, sometimes stretch and impacting the cramps you may experience. Also, hormones can cause the uterus to relax and create easier periods.

Why is My First Period After Birth So Heavy?

First, it’s important to know that lochia after birth can last 4-8 weeks (average 6 weeks) after giving birth. Lochia is the bleeding and tissue passing after giving birth as your body heals from pregnancy and delivery. Read more about Postpartum Bleeding here

During this time, it’s important to know what red flags to look out for such as:

  • Red and heavy blood more than a week postpartum
  • Large clots (bigger than golf ball), or high number of clots
  • Discharge has a foul-smell
  • Fever or chills
  • Dizzy and/or nauseous
  • Racing heart

Note: Postpartum bleeding may increase when you are breastfeeding, engaged in activity (walking steps, etc.), straining to use the restroom or when you first get out of bed.

Bleeding is a normal part of postpartum as the body transitions from pregnancy and birth. However, if you feel your bleeding is abnormal, contact your doctor.

In the first period after birth, you may still be experiencing heavier periods which can be caused from the changes in your uterus and the mucous lining throughout pregnancy and birth. As this continues to pass and go “back to normal,” your periods should also.

What is a “Normal” Period After Baby?

Just like pre-baby, normal looks different for everyone and every body. According to the experts at the Cleveland Clinic, an average menstrual cycle is “28 days long; however, a cycle can range in length from 21 days to about 35 days.” The Cleveland Clinic also indicates that most women bleed 3-5 days “but a period lasting only two days to as many as seven days is still considered normal.”

As your cycle returns after birth, you should be thinking of “normal” as your normal pre-pregnancy and use that to identify if anything feels off. This also means if you had struggles like PCOS or endometriosis, they may return after having a baby (though you should have a continual conversation with your provider about this.)

Another consideration is if you were on birth control prior to your pregnancy. Birth control is known to shorten or even get rid of menstrual cycles and so you baseline of “normal” may be different when you are postpartum and not back on birth control.

Cramping During Breastfeeding: Is My Period Back Already?!

Some women wonder if their menstrual cycle is returning just days (or hours!) after giving birth.  Do not fear, you are not experiencing the return of your period. This is most likely involution- afterbirth cramping.

Afterbirth cramping is the process of your uterus returning to its’ regular size after growing during pregnancy and delivering during birth. This can be noticed most during breastfeeding due to the hormonal release.

I Had My First Period, Now Will They Be Consistent?

Once you’ve had your first postpartum period, you might wonder if you can count on a regular schedule. Chance are, it will take a few cycles in order for your periods to be predictable again. This means you want to still use protection if you are having sex and carry your favorite hygiene products with you (um have you tried Thinx Period Panties yet?!) Also remember that the flow, duration and cycle can change as your body regulates again and gets back into a rhythm. If you find yourself with erratic periods for months after you cycle returns, it’s a good idea to talk with your medical provider about this.

RELATED: Am I Ready for Sex After Baby?

So in short, it’s hard to describe exactly what to expect with your first postpartum period. Like pregnancy, birth, and all things postpartum- our bodies all recover and operate in different ways. Do not be surprised by a difference in duration or flow during your first few cycles after you give birth. Know the signs of any postpartum bleeding problems, and have open honest conversations with your medical provider about what you are experiencing so that you can have your periods with confidence.

do period underwear really work to hold bloodThinx Period Undies are my go-to for all periods, but I SO wish I would have known about them for postpartum and the first period after baby. They can hold up to 4 tampons worth, and are created to absorb moisture and smell. Seriously periods suck, but this can make it less sucky.
Plus, with the link you get $10 off your first order.
Postpartum

Postpartum Body Image and Why New Mom Bodies are Complicated

Forming a Healthy Postpartum Body Image

You look in the mirror and everything about your postpartum body looks different.

Boobs.

Butt.

Belly.

You walk and sit and lie in bed and it feels different. Things aren’t put together the way they were before.

Maybe you laugh about this or cry about this. Maybe you feel peace or you feel shame. You’re not sure how you’re “supposed to” feel and what your body is “supposed to” be like after having your child.

The is no RIGHT Postpartum Body

The truth is, there’s no “right” way but there are so many things to consider when we are forming and growing our body image after having a baby. If you identify as a woman, chances are your body has held a lot of meaning for you throughout your life. Our bodies are tied to our perceived worth.

We have been told to measure our value based on how much our body does (or does not) align with women in magazines, in movies and now even on social media. We have measured our social acceptance by how easily we can fit into a group based on the way we look. It is taught to us from a young age that our desirability as a woman, our sexuality and attraction, are dependent on if we look like “that woman.” Without a doubt this impacts our confidence as we form beliefs about ourselves and who we are and what we can do.

Related: Where do we learn about postpartum?

how to address body image after you have a baby

Should You “Bounce Back” Right After Baby?

Now, after having a baby, so much is different. Unfortunately, it’s easier to access messages that tell us “how to bounce back” or “how to lose the baby weight fast” than it is to learn about the changes that have happened in our bodies and the ways to nurture and heal them with intention and grace.

When it comes to our body image after giving birth, we are responsible for what we let in and out of our body and minds. 

Related: Committing to Authenticity

Inside Thoughts About Postpartum Body Image

Ask yourself the following questions
What self-criticizing thoughts do I have?
When do I have them?
How are they trigged?
What happens because of that thought?

It’s not realistic to expect ourselves to never have self-critical thoughts. Sure, it would be nice, but realistically we have to remember we are conditioned to criticize ourselves.

The goal here is to figure out when and where these thoughts are triggered and then to have a plan of action to shut them down so the thought does not have a domino effect.

Example: When I undress to get into the shower, I see my saggy breasts. Then I look all over my body and feel worthless because I should have lost the baby weight by now. I continue to look at all the areas of my body that I feel insecure about and that makes me feel like my partner shouldn’t be attracted to me. It makes me feel like other women are doing it better and I don’t want to go out in public because I’m ashamed.

The Domino Effect of Body Image

Maybe this isn’t your exact situation, but take time to identify what yours is. Now, how do we interrupt this thought pattern? In the example above we can stop at the breasts. When I undress to get into the shower, I see my saggy breasts. Sure, I wish they were perkier, but I remember that they changed because my body grew my baby. Remember that the body changes very naturally in response to pregnancy, birth, and postpartum and that it takes time for all of that to heal. I am thankful for what my body has done and I recognize that every mom heals differently- it looks different for each of us. I would never want a friend to criticize her own body and I won’t criticize mine.

Related: 5 tips for communicating with your partner

Outside Input Impacting Postpartum Body Image

Ask yourself the following questions:

What influences my understanding of my postpartum body?
Did I ever learn about all the changes that have happened inside of me?
What social messages are making me feel insecure about myself?

In Postpartum Together small groups I’ve learned that many women gain a healthier body image after understanding what happens to the body to prepare for birth, give birth, and recover from birth. There are many layers of changes and yet not many places to learn about them.

On top of that, our social media and other spaces are filled with invitations and messages centered around losing the baby weight- often led by those who don’t have a clear understanding of how to safely do that after baby. (Accountability or workout groups led by someone who is not trained in pre and postnatal care are not your friends after giving birth.) The ball is in your court to learn about the changes and to be selective about what messages you allow as input. It’s more than okay to unfollow an account, to stop watching a show, to throw away a magazine, etc.

taking control of your postpartum body image

Postpartum Body Image Goes Deeper: The Past

Postpartum is a wonderful time to heal your body image. It’s a time when it is doing so for ourselves, but also because our children will learn from us. When we start to heal body image, we must start by looking back.

Ask yourself:
How were you raised to think about your body?
How did your mother or other women talk about their bodies in front of you?
What was your experience in adolescence with a changing body?
What insecurities and thought patterns do you remember?

Many women identify patterns from their upbringing. Perhaps your mother was always dieting or talking about how her clothes looked. It could be that puberty was uncomfortable and you never found a safe space to talk about it. Maybe you grew up seeing a certain type of woman on TV and it led you to be self-critical. To more forward, we have to look back enough to see where our thoughts and beliefs were formed so that we can rewrite them. If this feels like a lot to do on your own, that is very understandable. A space like Postpartum Together may be beneficial for you, or it may be a topic to discuss with a therapist.

RELATED: How to find a Therapist

How Body Image Impacts Other Things

When thinking about healing your body image, realize it goes beyond the self-talk you experience about your body.
Body image impacts the risks we take with meeting new people and going new places.
It impacts how we feel confident in ourselves which can impact things like work.
Body image has a big impact on our relationships too. We talk about this a lot in the Back in the Sack eCourse, but here are a few things for you to consider when it comes to body image after baby and how it impacts your marriage/relationship.

What role has your body played in your relationship?
Have you held a lot of value in being “sexy”?
Does your partner comment on your changed body?
Have you had an honest conversation about how you’re feeling about your body?

Layers of Postpartum Body Image

There are many layers to body image in all part of our lives, but even moreso after having a baby. It’s okay to have complex feelings about this. Know that taking the time to address and heal your body image right now will have an impact on your life forever. You can set an example for your kids, improve communication with your partner, gain confidence, and take pride in your changing body, but it takes work.

Related: Sex After Baby, Am I Ready?

woman looking in mirror.jpg

Connect with Other Moms and Get Empowering Coaching for a Healthy Postpartum Body Image

We want you to have a season of growth and healing of your body image as a new mom. We invite you to find the next Health Body Image After Baby small group. In this group we address the things that impact our body image, how our postpartum body changes, and how to develop a healthier relationship with our bodies after baby. Find the info on our new mom group page.

Birth, Postpartum

C-Section Massage: Healing After Your Belly Birth

C-Section Scars and Why We Call it Belly Birth

Here at Postpartum Together, we have chosen to refer to vaginal birth and belly birth. Your C-Section Scar is a testament of your beautiful belly birth. Cesarean is a common name for the operation of birthing via incision in the abdomen and uterus. But, we find that referring to this as a c-section dilutes the majesty of any and all birthing. By saying “Belly Birth” we honor that you DID birth a child and you DID do a miraculous thing and celebrate it as it is- a birth.

Disclaimer: (I am not a medical provider. I am a mom, a researcher, a coach. My goal is to help you have the information so you can seek your medical provider if needed.) Disclaimer #2 This post may include affiliate links which means, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission on sales made through links on this page.


csection scar massage taking care of your cesarean scar

What Happens After Belly Birth?

Following a belly birth, most women are instructed on how to watch for infection. We You are taught to ease back into activity, and what to do in those early days. However, many women have shared that they were not instructed to perform c-section scar massages on their belly incisions. I attended a postpartum class with Julie of Strong Body Strong Mama and noticed as she instructed a new mom who had delivered via belly birth on how to massage her scar. From that point, I did some research of my own. I talked with my own clients and audience, and have learned that many women are not instructed on how to care for their scar after birth.

Why Do you Need to Massage Your C-Section Scar?

Scars heal by new scar tissue developing and replacing the tissue that was there. When this new tissue develops, it does not grow in the same direction as the original. This means it needs to be retrained and moved to better align. Another issue that can happen with tissue regrowth is adhesions (scar tissue binding to the organs). These issues can cause problems and pain for moms months or years following birth. Some problems women may experience include, but are not limited to:

  • Back Pain

  • Limited mobility

  • Frequent urination

  • Painful Intercourse

RELATED: Sex After Baby: Am I Ready?

When and How to Massage Your C-Section Scar

You should wait until your doctor is able to confirm that your belly scar is healing properly before starting to massage. Oftentimes women get this clearance at their postpartum follow up appointment.

You will see in the video below, you want to start gently with your scar. Start around the scar and then make your way towards the incision scar as you are more comfortable. Massage it a few minutes each day. Your scar has a skin, muscle and organ layer and you will learn different levels of massage and techniques to work each level and help your tissue move freely in all directions.

As you watch below, will see different techniques in the video to show you how to massage and how to lift and roll your scar. Listen to how Sarah of Pelvic Floor and More explains each step, when and how to use the technique and tips for taking care of your scar after a belly birth.

RELATED: Constipation After Birth

Postpartum Recovery: C-Section Scars & The Pelvic Floor

When it comes to postpartum recovery, no matter how you birthed, women often are unsure of how to take care of their bodies. With so much attention on the baby, many women feel like there aren’t enough resources and checkups on her (I will ALWAYS say the one 6-week-check up is NOT enough!) Thankfully,there are resources available to you like Strong Body Strong Mama and Pelvic Floor and More. If there are other topics regarding postpartum that no one prepared you for or go unspoken, comment below or send me an email so we can get it on the blog!

Postpartum

How to Find a Great Pelvic Floor Therapist After Having a Baby

What is the Pelvic Floor?

The pelvic floor is a group of muscles and tissues that support your organs, support urine and stool movement, and impact sexual function. Throughout pregnancy and birth, the pelvic floor goes through a number of changes. The muscles can tighten and loosen, the tissue lengthens and the function of the pelvic floor can be compromised through the pressure it undergoes. After birth, changes in your pelvic floor may lead to complications with sex, urination, pain and discomfort. Whether you have a vaginal or cesarean birth, a pelvic floor therapist can be helpful in healing. Both tissue damage around the vagina and cesarean incisions can create complications for women.

Related: Postpartum Resource Planner

Disclaimer: (I am not a medical provider. I am a mom, a researcher, a coach. My goal is to help you have the information so you can seek your medical provider if needed. Information from this site should not replace your regular medical care.) Also, this post may contain affiliate links which means, at no additional cost to you, we may make commission on any purchases made through links. 

during pregnancy, the baby can cause changes to a woman’s pelvic floor

Why pelvic floor therapy?

If your shoulder or knee went through as much physical trauma as your pelvic floor does, you would likely receive a referral for physical therapy. It is totally normal to need to “retrain” your pelvic floor after the weight of bearing and birthing a child.

This is even standard care in some parts of the world. According to this article in HuffPost, For decades, the French government has subsidized “perineal re-education,” i.e., physiotherapy that helps strengthen a new mother’s pelvic floor.“This is a kind of physical therapy designed to retrain the muscles of the pelvic floor, including the vagina, and is one of the cornerstones of French postnatal care,” she (French mother and writer, Claire Lundberg) wrote.

For mothers in the US and many other countries, pelvic floor therapy is not standard care and we are often left to hear about it from a friend, a blog, etc. and find our own way. However, it is important to be able to gain confidence and comfort in the pelvic floor after birth. Some women go years without giving the pelvic floor attention and healing and then deal with things like pelvic floor prolapse even 10 years after birth or incontinence for years. While things like peeing while jumping or painful sex may be common, these are not normal and you don’t have to live with it forever. Pelvic floor therapy is designed to help you through these issues.

RELATED: The Pelvic Floor, Kegels, and What Happens in Pelvic Floor Therapy

pelvic floor physical therapy

How to Find a Pelvic Floor Therapist

When looking for a pelvic floor therapist there are a few things you want to consider.

  • Do you need your therapist to take insurance or will you use private pay?

  • What days and hours are you able to attend an appointment?

  • What do you need to feel comfortable at this type of appointment (gender, personality of therapist)

Where to Look for Pelvic Floor Therapist

Maybe you already know a pelvic floor therapist or have a friend who can give you a recommendation, but if you’re starting from square one, let me help you out a bit!

Databases

I found that there are a few “databases” online where you can put in your location and look for a provider. Unfortunately, I found the results to be very limited both in number of results and ability to filter and find specialties. Pelvicguru.com and pelvicrehab.com turned up better results, but still felt quite limited.

Google Search

You can try a Google search in your area. Example: Women’s Pelvic Floor Therapist Columbus, Ohio. This will likely bring up both individual therapists and offices that provide this service. Once you find options, take a look at the website and look at their services, specialties and/or staff to see if there is mention of pelvic floor and/or women’s health.

Social Media

Sometimes the best information you can get is from finding recommendations from others. If you’re area has a local moms Facebook group, this can be a great place to ask for recommendations. You can also follow the #pelvicmafia on Twitter or Instagram for posts from and regarding pelvic floor specialists.

Your OB/Midwife/PCP Referrals

If you’re experiencing symptoms that lead you to seek out pelvic floor therapy, you can talk about these symptoms to your medical provider. This may be your OB/Midwife and/or your primary care provider. Many providers are not trained in pelvic floor and therefore may not have answers, but you can directly ask them to write you a referral for pelvic floor therapy.

*Note I have had some clients share that they were told there pain/discomfort/worry was “normal” and were not written a referral. Know that there is no degree to which you need to experience these things to warrant pelvic floor therapy. Remember, this is standard care in some areas of the world. If your provider doesn’t believe you need it, but you do, go with your gut and seek out a therapist.

RELATED: Sex After Baby: Am I Ready?

Normalizing Pelvic Floor Therapy

While many parts of the world still do not see pelvic floor therapy as standard postpartum care, many women are speaking up about the importance of this healing. It can be awkward to talk about painful sex, peeing yourself, feeling heavy “down there” and other things that come with pelvic floor complications, but the more we speak up for ourselves and speak with one another, the less awkward it becomes and the more women know they don’t have to suffer with those issues forever.

Many providers and women see birth as the goal in a pregnant woman’s health, but truly the goal should be a supported and healed mother to take care of her new baby.

RELATED: Best comfy clothes for postpartum moms


best clothes for a new mom
motherhood

Mombod Aboard: Have the Fun With Your Kids Without Worry

Because Your Memories Can’t be Measured by the Scale

This post is written in partnership with Goldfish Swim School. Goldfish Swim School has provided us with the experience of lessons for my honest review of our time there. We are thankful for the positive family environment we’ve found at Goldfish Swim School. And we are thankful to have an encouraging place to embrace the mombod and make memories.

goldfish swim school young kids

This post may contain affiliate links which means, at no additional cost to you, I may receive a small commission from any purchases made from links provided).

Hey momma- Can we have a talk? 

Friend to friend.

Woman to woman.

Mom to mom.

Mombod to mombod.

I know you’ve been seeing a lot of messages and pictures lately. The ones that tell you how to drop the baby weight and “bounce back” regardless of whether you are 6 days, 6 weeks, 6 months or 6 years after baby. I know you’ve stopped your scroll and thought to yourself “if I could just look more like her, then I’d be happier.” You have tried to watch what you eat and move your body more and yet these kids take a lot more time than anyone prepared you for and there’s always something that needs to be done. Truly, you want to make all the memories with your little ones, but maybe, you’ve thought, you’ll do more when you hit that goal body. 

Related: What is postpartum?

Memories Can’t be Measured

But what if that goal body isn’t really the important thing here? Even if the number on the scale, the pants size, the belly that may still be lingering… what if those aren’t the things that define you and the moments that are special? What if you can enjoy the day, the week, the month, the year and all of the moments that come just as you are? Suit up, momma, because your memories can’t be measured.

Suit up. That’s right, put the suit on. Sit in the sun. Put your toes in the sand. Splash with your little ones. Go to the party. Attend the lessons. Go to the park. Jump in the deep end. Because what your kids will remember most, what they need most out of their moms, is not fitting some outward society expectation, but connecting in meaningful ways.

Related: Presence Over Performance

Putting a Suit on that Mombod for Swimming Lessons

toddler class goldfish swim school 1 year old

When my family first talked about enrolling in swimming lessons, it was the start of winter. I don’t own a scale, but I knew my weight was beyond that “ideal” I have kept in my mind for most of my adult life. Some of the suits stored away wouldn’t flatter me anymore. It was sobering to realize the room would be filled with other moms and dads who could see me, mombod and all, escorting my little one in the pool.

These things could have easily kept me from going to lessons, but there was a much stronger realization and driver. I knew my days with my kiddos aren’t slowing down. They aren’t going to be this age another day. I knew that when they are grown and we look back on their childhood, I want to share laughter and joy about the experiences we have and not regret over the experiences we skipped due to insecurity.

Suit up, momma. Suit up and do the fun things with your kids. Make memories. Laugh loudly. Suit up and don’t let time pass without embracing the moments- because they will go by fast. \

Looking for the perfect suit or another staple for your postpartum body? Find some of my favorites here!

RELATED: Postpartum Weight Loss Comments. Eck.

Finding a Fun Place for the Family (and your Mombod)

If suiting up leads you to swimming lessons with your kids too, we recommend finding the Goldfish Swim School near you. We chose Goldfish because of their approach that makes swimming fun for our kids with play-based lessons and lots of skill building. We easily found a time that worked for our family because of the many options and knew we would have a chance to make up a class if life came up and we missed a lesson.  It also helps that the colors are bright and the atmosphere is so fun that my kids are excited to enter each week. My friend Megan answered all the frequently asked questions about lessons at Goldfish here! Whether it’s swim lessons or any other family activity, suit up, momma.

PS: You can have fun at home and get a sneak-peek of the Goldfish way on their Youtube Channel. (Hello free at-home activity!)

goldfish swim school at home youtube
Postpartum

Worst Massage of Your Life: Fundal Massage After Giving Birth

What is a Fundal Massage?

how to stop it from hurting when i pee after birth

 

When the Nurse Comes In Right After Birth…

A fundal massage, also known as a uterine massage, is a normal part of after-delivery care.  This typically happens shortly after birth and can continue for hours or days depending on the needs of the patient.

Who doesn’t want a massage after the labor of bringing another human into the world?

When Do You Get a Fundal Massage?

A uterine massage often happens while you are doing skin to skin with your newborn and is done in order to prevent postpartum hemorrhaging. Chances are, if you’ve had massages throughout your life, most of them were not near your pelvic bone and uterus. This massage is also described as “rougher” than massages you may be used to as your doctor, nurse or midwife works to stimulate the uterus.

Stimulating the uterus to contract is important to help rid the body of blood clots and help it to move into the post-birth processes needed for recovery. Your medical provider will also place one hand in the vagina to support the uterus.

The name “fundal massage” comes from “fundus” which is the top of your uterus. The uterus is an organ in which the fertilized egg is implanted. The uterus grows throughout pregnancy and upon delivery, will transition back to its’ normal size.

uterine massage after giving birth

Postpartum Hemorrhaging

Postpartum hemorrhaging refers to the excess loss of blood following childbirth and occurs in 1-5% of birthing women. Hemorrhaging causes a drop in blood pressure, which the body is not prepared for. Fundal/Uterine massages as well as other preventive measures are done to decrease the chances of hemorrhaging after giving birth. Fundal Massages happen after vaginal birth, cesarean birth, miscarriage and abortions. Any time that a pregnancy comes to an end, the uterus needs to contract and heal. You will likely receive fundal messages from your medical team (and if you don’t, it’s a good time to ask why you are not!) and you may be instructed on how to perform a uterine massage yourself.

Some women will only need uterine massages for the first couple of hours after birth. Some women will continue to receive these massages for a couple of days as the body discards blood and tissue following birth.

There are many aspects to care after childbirth and it is important to talk with your medical provider about what to expect and what kind of care you can anticipate. It is also important to talk to your support person about how to help you through birth and beyond.

Related: Postpartum Bleeding

Sources: The information for this post was gathered through anecdotal, stories shared by other moms, March of Dimes, Cochrane Library.

Birth, Postpartum

Peeing After Birth: What You Need to Know about the First Pee

 

how to pee after giving birth

 

The First Pee After Birth: I Did NOT Expect This!

Here at Postpartum Together, we’ve been talking about the unexpected parts of life after baby. We are usually prepared for birth, but there are many things that happen right after birth that can come as a surprise to new moms. One of those things is peeing after birth (or the first few days of peeing after baby) and how it can hurt and sting. We aren’t here to scare you about afterbirth, but to help you know what you can expect and to let you know you’re not the only one! I remember being shocked at how difficult it was for me to make it to the toilet the first couple of days after giving birth and how much I dreaded going to pee because it would sting so badly.

RELATED: Delivering the Placenta

Why Does Peeing After Birth Hurt?

Peeing After Vaginal Birth

Birth takes a toll on your lady parts. For women who deliver vaginally, there is often either an episiotomy or vaginal tearing.

Episiotomy: Surgical incision in the perineum during childbirth to enlarge the area baby passes through

Vaginal Tearing: Also known as perineal lacerations. This is tearing that occurs as the skin and tissue is unable to stretch enough for baby to pass through

Regardless of whether you have an episiotomy or have vaginal tearing as baby passes through, the skin and tissue is damaged in childbirth. This makes the area sensitive and can create open wounds. There is also swelling in this region which can contribute to the discomfort of peeing after birth. When you think about it- the swelling and tearing and wounding- it’s no surprise that there can be a burning sensation and pain when you pee.

Peeing After Belly/Cesarean Birth

It is also possible to experience painful pee after a cesarean birth. For those who push and labor for a vaginal birth but transition to cesarean, there may be damage- tearing and swelling- to the vagina from the laboring. Also, a catheter is often placed after a cesarean and the removal of that can cause painful urination.

How to Decrease Pain During Postpartum Pee

I don’t believe in magic solutions or the ONE MISSING STEP to fix your problems. The reality- for many women, peeing after baby is painful. It stings and burns and is a dreaded time. There’s no sugar coating that. However, there are some ways to help decrease that pain (and remember, it won’t last forever!)

  1. Peri bottle and warm water: A peri bottle is simply a bottle that you can fill with warm water and squirt at your crotch while you pee and after. Why? Because the pressure and water can help counteract the sting and allow you to pee more easily, plus a squirt after can clean you up without needing to wipe. No one wants to put toilet paper on that area right after birth. You can get a simple peri bottle like this one or a fancy pants one like this.

  2. Pain Relief:Decreasing swelling and alleviating pain are a part of afterbirth. For your vaginal damage, these are important parts of healing. First, pain reliever. Talk to your medical provider about what dosing is safe right after birth, but you should be able to take pain reliever. Second, ice pads. Cooling will help alleviate pain and reduce the swelling from tearing and bruising. You can purchase ice packs to put in your mesh undies, or you can make padsicles.

    RELATED: DIY Padsicle How-To

  3. Positioning: Believe it or not, the way you are seated on the toilet can have an impact on how you pee. Leaning your body forward can help position the area to be more relaxed. A foot stool allows you to lean forward, prop your legs and create a more natural flow. Foot stools are highly recommended for both pee and poop after birth (and all of the time!) Plus, it’s nice to have on hand once potty-training begins so it’s a great investment! Want the easy-to-stock-up Amazon List? See all the items recommended for pee (and poop) after baby here!

  4. Go in the shower/bath: Throw out your typical opinion of peeing in the shower. Sometimes the counter of warm water surrounding you is very helpful for those first few pees. Peeing in the bath? I know. It’s pushing boundaries, but if you can lay in the bath (get a sitz bath?!) and then pee right before getting out, it’s not that bad. And it can provide a lot of relief for that burn/sting sensation in the early days.

woman pee in shower after birth

Complications to Peeing After Birth that You Need to Be Aware Of

Most of the time, burning and pain while peeing subsides after a few days or weeks. As the body works to heal itself after birth, swelling decreases and tears/stitching heals and with that comes more “normal” urination. However, some women can experience UTIs after birth and it’s important to know when to seek medical advice. (I am not a medical provider. I am a mom, a researcher, a coach. My goal is to help you have the information so you can seek your medical provider if needed.) 

Signs of a UTI After Birth

Pregnancy increases risks of UTIs and the fear of painful pee can cause women to hold it in which can increase risk of UTIs. It is important to find a way to comfortably (as much as possible) pee after birth so that you can take in adequate fluids and not hold in your urine.

(Info sourced from Americanpregnancy.org )

  • Pain or burning (discomfort) when urinating

  • The need to urinate more often than usual

  • A feeling of urgency when you urinate

  • Blood or mucus in the urine

  • Cramping or pain in the lower abdomen

  • Pain during sexual intercourse

  • Chills, fever, sweats, leaking of urine (incontinence)

  • Waking up from sleep to urinate

  • Change in the amount of urine, either more or less

  • Urine that looks cloudy, smells foul or unusually strong

  • Pain, pressure, or tenderness in the area of the bladder

  • If bacteria spreads to the kidneys you may experience back pain, chills, fever, nausea, and vomiting.

RELATED: Pelvic Floor in Postpartum

Momma- delivering the baby is a huge feat! Don’t be surprised if there are still some things that are uncomfortable- we never want to scare you (it doesn’t last forever!) but make sure you aren’t totally shocked by life after baby!

This post includes affiliate links which means, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission from anything you purchase. They don’t give us much, but hey.