One year down the line and no sex! Treza had given clear instructions to her husband – to be in his bedroom.
She did not want body contact of any kind, fearing that the man may get aroused and force her to have sex.
“My body needs to heal; if anything, I have no feelings,” Treza explained when she was brought to the sexology clinic by Charlie, her husband.
They had gone through difficult times because of what Charlie described as unwarranted forced abstinence.
“I started talking to my friends about it, those whose wives have delivered before,” Charlie explained. “I discovered that some have sex weeks after delivery. I do not understand why I should be starved for a year.”
“If you no longer love me you should just say so; do not blame it on delivery. I am fed up with this unromantic life. And just so you know I have options,” Charlie shouted. Treza broke down.
“I understand where you are coming from; calm down and let us explore how to solve this,” I interjected.
There are many myths and practices around the resumption of sex after delivery.
In some communities, the man is not allowed to have sex with any other woman unless they have done it with the wife who has delivered.
It is claimed that if the man has sex outside and holds the baby, some strange disease immediately inflicts the baby and death follows.
In such cultures, men rush into having sex with the woman even before she heals. There have been cases of torn stitches in the vagina a few days after women are discharged from labour ward because of this practice.
Although most of the time the delivery wounds look healed two weeks after delivery, sex may not be possible because the area remains sore. For most women, a minimum of six weeks is needed before sex can resume.
It is also important to note that some residual bleeding may go on for days after delivery, making it messy to engage in sex.
Even more important, sex immediately after delivery may predispose the woman to infections around the vagina and the uterus.
“Caring for the baby is tiring; it is one hell of a life for me yet Charlie does not give a damn. I am awake for hours on end when he is soundly asleep,” Treza interjected.
I agreed with Treza. Baby care, especially in the early days of delivery, can be demanding. Babies have this strange thing of sleeping during the day then staying awake at night and demanding that you carry and play with them. Many men may not realise how draining this is.
“Sometimes the breasts are full and painful and keep me awake,” Treza adds. She was excited to give more evidence to support her position. Charlie remained quiet and distant.
“But of course we do have our obligations to each other too as couples,” I explained.
Despite the difficulties that come with delivery, couples should still strive to support the needs of each other.
TAKE IT SLOW
It is expected that men will help with baby care. It is also expected that they will support with household chores as the woman heals.
It is for this reason that paternity leave exists. The woman should also strive to offer emotional support to the man.
Men, just like women, go through difficult emotional times during pregnancy, delivery, and baby care.
At about six weeks after delivery, the couple should slowly resume some sexual activity and should escalate it slowly, being conscious of the discomfort that the woman may feel.
It should be noted that the woman may not have a sexual desire after delivery. Restarting sex may be similar to what it was when the woman was a virgin.
There may be some pain initially. Normalcy resumes after a few weeks. The woman should realise that while they are sexually low after delivery, most men feel high at this time since they have been off sex for a while.
There is, therefore, discordance in feelings and this brings frustrations both ways with each person blaming the other for not understanding their situation.
For the sake of the relationship, partners should make some personal sacrifices to meet each other needs. I believe this is what love means.
We would then not have to fight over sex after delivery, we would do it as soon as medical concerns are over.