Postpartum isn’t glamorous, this we know. But much of what many of us have accepted as ‘normal’ actually isn’t. You often hear Moms laughing together about peeing when they sneeze, while other women keep issues like painful sex a secret, accepting it’s something they’ll live with. My conversation with Registered Nurse, Sunday Night Health Show host and founder of Get Cleopatra Virtual Health Clinic, Maureen McGrath, was eye opening. I first learned that the postpartum period isn’t six weeks, or even a year, but that postpartum issues can persist and if you’ve given birth, you’re postpartum. I also learned many doctors aren’t trained or experienced in women’s intimate health which is why so many common issues go undiagnosed and have been accepted as ‘normal’. I challenged Maureen with a few bits of information I’ve come to know as facts and was surprised at her answers.
7 Postpartum Myths
After you have a baby, it’s normal to pee when you cough, sneeze, jump, laugh or run.
Maureen: Leaking urine is never normal not even after you’ve had a baby. That said, many women will experience urinary incontinence after a vaginal delivery. There are treatment options, and a woman doesn’t have to live this way.
Six weeks after giving birth sexual activity can resume.
Maureen: This is the general recommendation from physicians and midwives but many women may resume sex sooner or some later. It is tied to sexual desire which is complex for many women especially after having a baby. There is no one-date-fits-all.
Having a C-section means your vagina and pelvic floor are unaffected.
Maureen: Many women have a c-section after having laboured for many hours. That said, a c-section is kinder to one’s bladder health and pelvic floor. Leaking urine is less common and a woman is at less risk for vaginal laxity. C-sections are generally safe, but they’re still major surgeries.
You’ll be too tired to ever want sex again (unless for the purpose of more babies).
Maureen: This is true for many women. When there’s a baby in the house, it’s like Christmas every day but these little packages can turn a house upside down, between breastfeeding and lack of sleep. Self-care is critical after the birth of a baby. Prioritizing intimacy is challenging but worth it. And yes, desire does increase when a woman wants a baby.
Sex will always hurt or be uncomfortable after having a baby.
Maureen: This is not true for all women, but for some, changes in hormones and breastfeeding may lead to vaginal dryness which can lead to painful sex and low sexual desire. Finding a treatment or solution that’s right for your body can make sex pleasurable again.
You don’t need birth control if you’re breastfeeding.
Maureen: MYTH! Breastfeeding may provide some protection but it is unreliable. Contraceptives are recommended.
Your vagina is too stretched out after a baby to have an orgasm.
Maureen: Most women require clitoral stimulation to experience orgasm. About 20% of women experience vaginal laxity and these women may experience a decrease in sexual sensation. There are always options and treatment to make sexual pleasure achievable. Everyone deserves an enjoyable sex life!
Learn more from Maureen at www.getcleopatra.com
All photos via Get Cleopatra
Jenn Wint is a writer, communications strategist and a public relations specialist. She is passionate about storytelling and community. Jenn lives in East Vancouver with her husband, 3yo son and 1yo daughter. You’ll find them hanging around Vancouver’s playgrounds, water parks, coffee shops and anywhere that bakes fresh cookies in-house!