Sex before and after baby

What's normal? Hint – you are


We haven’t talked about sex in a while. Let’s answer some questions and then I’ll tell you what I think about CNN’s article, New Moms and the Post-Baby Sex Slump That is besides saying, “duh.”

Erika is almost 7 weeks pregnant with her first baby. She discovered some “gunky brown discharge” after sex followed the next day by a very little bit of spotting. She’s worried, of course, and wants to know if this is normal? I’ll cut to the chase, Erika. Yes, it’s normal. Lots of women have a little spotting and discharge during the first couple months of pregnancy then go on to have full-term healthy babies. I can’t guarantee your pregnancy is stable however, and you should definitely tell your doctor or midwife about the spotting.

That gunky brown discharge could be leftover blood hanging around the cervix (the opening to your uterus) from your last pregnancy or from implantation (when the fertilized egg burrows into the uterine lining and starts making a home for itself). It could also be that your cervix is sensitive from all those raging hormones. The uterus gets extra circulation and blood supply during pregnancy and the tiny blood vessels in your cervix might have gotten “bumped” during sex. Any of these factors can cause spotting.

7 weeks is a little early to get solid reassurance that everything is 100% A-OK. Your doctor/midwife might do an ultrasound to check “viability” – medical talk for “looking for a heartbeat.” If a miscarriage is going to happen however, there’s really nothing to prevent it this early in a pregnancy. Miscarriages happen around 15-20% of the time. They’re nature’s way of providing quality control by eliminating a pregnancy gone wrong. That means 80-85% of pregnancies are normal and healthy and Erika, don’t let a little spotting prevent you from thinking you’re in that larger group. Call your doctor about your spotting and ask whether you can have sex again soon.

Another question this week: Holly wants to know if it’s normal to want sex all the time during the middle of her pregnancy then not want it at all at the end. Yep, once again, that’s normal. The second trimester is frequently the best one for sex. You’re no longer as exhausted and queasy as you were in the first trimester and you’re not as huge and uncomfortable as you will be in the third trimester. All that extra blood supply in your genitals and your bigger-than-ever breasts make for smoking hot sex. Go for it.

If you don’t feel like having sex however, you’re not abnormal. You’re right in there with millions of other women. Some want to, others don’t and it’s all-OK. If your husband or partner is going crazy from going without, help him out whatever way you can but honey, during pregnancy your needs come first and if you don’t want to, you don’t have to. Period.

Now, as for that CNN article. Not wanting to have sex for a while after having a baby is a universal experience that’s been going on for as long as there have been new mothers. The article talks about what might cause it including fluctuating hormones, exhaustion and a longer-than-average physical recovery period and then they talk about Viagra and how there’s no medical treatment for female sexual dysfunction. Seriously? Sexual dysfunction? I don’t think so.

I think it’s normal. Just because our body has supposedly healed enough for sex by 6 weeks doesn’t mean the whole rest of the girl is. I think, once again, it’s nature’s way of taking care of women so we don’t have too many babies too close together. Mother Nature more concerned that women get their balance than get their groove back before they can handle it. I think it’s a normal adaptive way of giving women time to figure out who we are now that our body has produced another body, is producing milk, healing, and getting a handle on the whole mothering thing.

Sex is such a deeply intimate experience for most of us that maybe some women don’t want to have sex as soon as others because they are on intimacy-overload. Give a girl some time. C’mon, this isn’t pathology, disorder or dysfunction. There’s a whole range of normal on the learning curve of new parenthood. What’s the rush?

I thought it was patronizing to suggest guys show their love and support (and therefore get some action) by picking up their socks or doing a little laundry. Seriously? This isn’t the 50’s. This is 2010. Most guys are hands-on partners-in-parenting now, changing diapers and doing housework not because they want to “help the little woman out” but because they’re responsible and doing their share. Adult men understand their wives/partners have gone through a really big deal and are willing to wait for them to be ready. Most know how to take care of themselves. Give them some credit.

Erika and Holly, thanks for the questions. You’re normal. No matter where your sex drive takes you.

Jeanne Faulkner, R.N., lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and five children. 

This Fit Pregnancy blog is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace medical advice from your physician. Before initiating any exercise program, diet or treatment provided by Fit Pregnancy, you should seek medical advice from your primary caregiver.