GETTING intimate with your partner after childbirth can be daunting for a lot of new mums, so how long should you wait?
Here, three women open up about getting back in the saddle after having a baby – from four days later to never again.
‘I felt so empowered by the birth, I had sex four days later’
MARIA Bataller, 36, and partner Warren, 35, run a children’s toy business and live in Cambridge with their daughter Sofia, five, and son Nolan, three.
She says: “Nothing about my amazing son’s arrival was normal – not discovering I was pregnant at five months, nor delivering him alone in my bathroom at eight months, nor having sex again just four days later.
I came to Cambridge from Gandia, Spain, in August 2010, aged 25, to work as an electronics engineer, and met Warren a few weeks later through my flatmate.
He was kind, friendly and thoughtful, and by the following July we had moved in together. Sex was an important part of our relationship from the start, and we did it almost every day.
In July 2015, we were delighted to discover that I was pregnant. I was fortunate to have an easy pregnancy and we continued to have sex regularly.
Sofia was born two weeks early on February 14, 2016. I didn’t have any stitches and only a little bleeding, so two weeks later we had sex. It wasn’t painful or different from before – and it was wonderful to feel close to Warren during that special time.
I breastfed Sofia – who slept in our room until she was 14 months – but that didn’t impact our sex life. From the time she was a few weeks old, we were having sex once or twice a week.
In June 2017, I was on the Pill and breastfeeding, so my periods hadn’t returned, but I’d put on weight and was having strange sensations in my tummy, so I did a test and was shocked when it was positive.
The midwife sent me for a scan, which revealed I was five months’ pregnant. We couldn’t believe it, but were over the moon. Like my first pregnancy, everything went well and we still had sex once or twice a week.
But on September 14, a month before my due date, I began having sharp stomach pains. The hospital told me it was Braxton Hicks contractions and sent me home.
It wasn’t painful or different from before – and it was wonderful to feel close during that special time.
A few hours later, however, in the bath, the pain was worse than ever. Suddenly, I felt the baby coming. I shouted to Warren – who was downstairs with Sofia – to call 999 and to run and ask a neighbour to come and watch Sofia.
I got out of the bath, got down on all fours, and in one push my waters broke and I caught our baby boy Nolan in my arms. When Warren came back a minute later, he found me breastfeeding Nolan in the bathroom!
On the phone, the emergency services told Warren what to do with the umbilical cord, and when the midwife arrived 20 minutes later, all was peaceful.
Nolan was 5lb 7oz, and an hour after his arrival, I didn’t even feel like I’d given birth. Because he was premature, we were taken to hospital to be checked out, but I didn’t need any stitches and had no bleeding.
The whole experience was so empowering, I felt incredible. I’d listened to my body and trusted it. So when, four days later, I felt ready for sex, I didn’t overthink it.
Warren was surprised, but it felt amazing. For the first year of Nolan’s life we had sex once or twice a week, then we went to once a week.
In 2017, Warren and I set up Capikooa, designing children’s wooden balance boards, so we spend a lot of time together. But that doesn’t impact us being intimate – sex is still an important part of our relationship, and I hope it always will be.”
‘We waited five months to have sex again – then it was like something from Downton Abbey!’
RACHEL Ducker, 35, owns a marketing and design agency and lives in Suffolk with husband Sam, 32, who works in sustainable transport, and son Leo, two.
She says: “Creeping into the master bedroom, I slipped under the duvet next to my husband Sam. We’d been sleeping apart since the birth of our son five months earlier, but I was determined to reignite our sex life.
I met Sam in September 2011 through work, and in December 2017, we got engaged. I threw my contraceptive pills in the bin after our wedding in June 2018 and six months later I was pregnant.
We carried on having sex until I was around six months pregnant, then stopped, partly because the larger I got, the less I felt like it, and also because Sam didn’t feel as comfortable doing it as the baby got bigger.
We were still intimate, though – kissing, cuddling and sharing our feelings as we prepared to become parents.
HUGE EMOTIONAL IMPACT
I took a hypnobirthing class and was determined to have a ‘natural’ labour, but in the end, after going 15 days overdue, I laboured for 16 hours before an emergency C-section. Leo was born on August 12, 2019, at a whopping 10lb 3oz.
The physical and emotional impact was huge. I’d gone into hospital a confident young woman and hobbled out two weeks later a shell of a person, feeling the most vulnerable I’d been in my life.
After Leo’s birth we decided to sleep in separate rooms temporarily – Sam in the master bedroom, me in the guest room with Leo – so I could feed Leo in the night and sleep with him, and Sam could get up for work without disturbing us.
I couldn’t walk properly until eight weeks after Leo’s birth. I had pain in my vagina and abdomen and I was still bleeding. So I was shocked when, at my check-up, the doctor suggested I start back on the Pill.
It felt like I was under all this pressure to have sex again already. But Sam was incredibly patient and supportive – he was happy to wait until I felt ready.
When Leo was five months old, in January 2020, I felt like I wanted to be intimate again. It had been eight months since we’d last had sex, and I did feel nervous.
It wasn’t exactly mind-blowing, and it was a little painful, so we stopped. I felt bad, like I’d let Sam down, but he assured me we could take our time.
That was the beginning of what we jokingly called our ‘Downton Abbey period’ – sneaking into each other’s bedrooms then returning to our separate beds a few times each week. After some more attempts, I was able to relax and it became much more enjoyable.
When Leo was seven months old, we moved him into his nursery and I returned to our bedroom. It was lovely to share a bed again and fall asleep together after being intimate. Our sex life wasn’t the same as it had been before having Leo, but we were able to slowly rebuild it.
In January, I became pregnant with our second child, who is due in September. Sam and I have already agreed that post-birth, we’ll have separate bedrooms again as it worked so well last time.
As for sex afterwards, we’ll just see how it goes – and when we both feel ready for it, we’ll do it.”
‘I’d be happy never to have sex again’
ZOE Chapman, 36, is an entrepreneur and lives in London with her son Mayson, nine.
She says: “Holding my beautiful newborn son in my arms, I knew that sex had given me the most precious thing in the world – and I didn’t care if I never did it again.
I first became friends with Matt* in 2001, when I was 17 and in an abusive relationship. We didn’t start dating until June 2011, when I was 26 and single. Emotionally I wasn’t in a great place, but Matt made me feel safe.
Three months after we became a couple, I was shocked to discover I was pregnant.
It wasn’t planned, but I felt so happy. At first, Matt was delighted too, but six weeks into the pregnancy he began to pressure me to have an abortion. I refused – I wanted to keep this baby, so we split up.
I was living alone at the time, working in a bank and helping to care for my dad Pete, who was paralysed with brain damage following a stroke.
I knew I would have little family support, but I had several close friends who were single mums, and if they could do it so could I – although I did worry about raising a child alone on one wage.
I went into labour on May 21, 2012, a day before my due date. When I held Mayson for the first time, the feeling of love was indescribable – he became my entire world. Nothing else but him mattered, certainly not any man.
I knew that sex had given me the most precious thing in the world – and I didn’t care if I never did it again.
Two days later I was home, taking care of a newborn and my dad, who was living nearby in sheltered housing. He had carers, but I was very involved in coordinating it all, and dealing with that plus a newborn on very little sleep left me shattered. I barely had time to shower or eat.
For the first few years of Mayson’s life, I just survived day to day. The idea of a man or sex, didn’t enter my head. The only thing I desired was a good night’s sleep!
When I did finally sit down each evening, I couldn’t think of anything worse than entertaining a date. The idea of it filled me with dread and I became increasingly isolated and felt very low at times, especially when my dad passed away in 2015, aged 68.
Until Mayson was four, I sent Matt updates about him on his birthday every year, but he never responded so I decided to stop. Mayson is now nine and my feelings about men and sex have not changed.
I have such an amazing little boy – so funny, empathetic and helpful – and as he’s grown, any feelings of loneliness have ebbed away. We have an unbreakable bond, it’s us against the world, and single life is just the norm for me now.
I know not all men are like my exes, but I honestly don’t need anyone else. Since I last had sex almost 10 years ago, I truly believe that my sex drive has gone forever.
I can appreciate a handsome man, but physically I feel nothing. I never really enjoyed sex much anyway, and I’m not into self-pleasure – I’d rather watch a good box set!
I also channel my energy and time into my business, Kiddiwhizz, which I launched last year after designing a portable kids’ loo. Making it a success, and creating the best life for me and Mayson is what is important to me – not sex or a man.”