best tracker We had 4 years with no sex after our baby was born – couples who claim they’re at it are probably lying, says mum Clio – Techss

We had 4 years with no sex after our baby was born – couples who claim they’re at it are probably lying, says mum Clio

IF you hear friends, or even celebs saying they are having lots of post-birth sex, take it with a pinch of salt.

I found it excruciatingly painful the first time my husband Bryn and I tried it, around six weeks after the birth of our daughter Delphi, who is now nine.

mum Clio Wood, who says she didn't have good sex for two years after giving birth 
She also runs website &breathe
Mum of two Clio Wood talks about her journey with intimacy after having a baby
Ocean Taylor
Karen Gurney - Mind the Gap
Sexologist Karen Gurney recently explained that sexual dissatisfaction is at its worst for couples after having children

Sex is the one thing you can fib about and no one will find out.

So bear that in mind the next time a pal is raving about being at it like rabbits just a few weeks after the birth. They are probably stretching the truth.

Sexologist Dr Karen Gurney recently explained that sexual dissatisfaction is at its worst for couples in the period after having children.

Her new book lifts the lid on intimacy problems and I am glad she’s dispelling the myth that couples jump back into bed weeks after having a baby.

The chances are that most of them aren’t, and if they are, it’s not quite as pleasurable and straightforward.

That first time, for me, the worst thing was that I had initiated the sex, because I wanted to feel a sense of normality in this new role as a mum — to feel like the person I had been before.

It couldn’t have been further from the truth. At this point we had been together for six years, and pre-birth we had a happy, healthy sex life either weekly or fortnightly.

The birth had been difficult. It was vaginal and after a long labour I had to have ventouse — an instrument that uses suction to attach a cup on to the baby’s head — then forceps with episiotomy, which had left scarring.

Full-blown rows

Still, I was so surprised at the pain during sex. 

It felt like shards of glass. I felt something must be wrong. So I asked my GP, who didn’t think it was anything serious.

This made me feel ashamed that I had even brought such a “trivial” issue to him.

During the first year after the birth, we had penetrative sex only once or twice more because it was so painful.

FAB DAILY - VANILLA SEX - CLIO WOOD - HONEST WELLBEING:  Happiest of birthdays to this amazing husband of mine @brynsnelson. Thank you for all that you are and all that you do for me and the Bear. We've had some ups and downs (some pretty epic downs) and I'm in awe of how far we've come and how you still make my heart race. . You're soon to be even more outnumbered in the nicest possible way, so we promise (maybe) to give you some girl-free time on the odd occasion. . All my love, Woodstock x . . . . . . . . . #soppypost #happybirthday #myhusband #husbandandwife #teamwork #marriage #marriagecounselling #couplestherapy #honestwellbeing #honestmotherhood #realmotherhood #mymotherhoodjourney #maternalmentalhealth #maternalwellbeing #wellbeingformums #selfcareformums #selfcareforparents #motherhoodunderstood #motherhooduncensored #loveandmarriage #soulmate #bestfriend #partnerincrime #familiesIRL #husbandsofinstagram
Clio together with husband Bryn

We were able to cuddle but were also both so tired from early parenthood that sometimes even a smooch felt too much.

Snuggling up on the sofa watching a film, Bryn would try to initiate something with a gentle kiss, but I immediately backed off, even though I could see he felt hurt.

I felt a lot of shame that something was wrong with me, so the whole topic felt hard to discuss and we ended up with one of us more upset when we did try to talk about it.

It was a long time without sex but we never talked about how we coped with our sexual needs during that time.

We admit now we were pleasuring ourselves more than we would have done before kids.

Our sex life had been great beforehand, so it always felt like something was missing.

Bryn was very understanding and reasonable, but this really knocked us for six and our relationship was tense.

We weren’t able to talk freely to each other, we’d try and have dinner together most nights, as a way of being together, but I would end up snapping at the mildest comments.

Conversation was stilted, the noise of the cutlery on our dinner plates felt deafening over the quiet.

We never talked about how we coped with our sexual needs

Clio Wood

A year post-birth, my physiotherapist found that for me a large part of the problem was the muscles in my lower pelvis were too tight and not flexible enough, and there was hypersensitive vaginal scarring, which all made sex extremely painful.

No one tells us to prepare for this stuff but I know it is happening to many, many women.

Treatment includes exercises to release the muscles as well as massage of the scar tissue.

I also had to deal with the toll the birth, and having a new-born, had on me both mentally and emotionally.

I had a real fear of my husband approaching me sexually.

We would start to be romantic in bed, and rather than it progressing, I would freeze up and all sexy thoughts would disappear because I just felt so at odds with my body.

Feeling like this, and not being able to have sex and connect with each other would leave me in tears in the bedroom regularly.

We were arguing all the time about the most mundane things from our daughter’s schedule, to what to buy on the weekly shop.

It went from light bickering to full-blown rows. On top of that, I had postnatal depression.

We were pushed to breaking point as a couple.

I was feeling dread and anxiety at how bad our relationship had got, and started planning what I’d do if we were to divorce.

The feelings took over my mind — they were all-consuming.

I had a real fear of my husband approaching me sexually

Clio Wood

Five years after the birth of Delphi, our sex life wasn’t nearly as bad as it had been but we were still having sex less than pre-kids and it was glaringly obvious we were still not connecting as a couple.

We’d been through even more challenges with a pregnancy loss, my postnatal depression becoming more severe and Bryn also struggling with his mental health.

Despite things picking up a little, we were still on the verge of divorcing.

Bryn had been the one to say: “I just can’t do this any more. Maybe I should move out?” We both sobbed as he took off for his brother’s house, not saying when he might be back.

‘We all feel alone’

That evening when Bryn came home, we sat down together and decided to see a couples therapist.

I credit her with saving our marriage.

Not having sex regularly, it felt like we were simply housemates, being polite and passing by each other in the home, certainly not really speaking properly.

I was so sad, and at times I questioned whether we even loved each other. 

I’ve always needed to be told, “I love you”, to feel secure, and Bryn was never very good at saying it, but now there were months when he stopped saying it at all, and that felt really painful.

I craved intimacy, but it felt so off. I wanted to have sex but I knew it would likely be painful, so we just didn’t do it.

My husband didn’t push this, but in a way that understanding meant I felt even less wanted.

Once I wrapped my arms around him in passing in the kitchen, only to be gently pushed away and left standing on my own.

mum Clio Wood, who says she didn't have good sex for two years after giving birth 
She also runs website &breathe
Clio with hubby Bryn and daughter Delphi
Ocean Taylor

We had always made each other laugh, and it felt alien not to be able to share this comfortable friendship any more.

We never stopped finding each other attractive, but we weren’t looking at each other in a sexual way, so forgot to appreciate the other person.

In the same way he used to be terrible at telling me, “I love you”. Compliments tended to slip his mind too.

So when we weren’t showing each other physically that we fancied each other, there was no way for me to know that he did appreciate me still.

After six months of therapy we felt like we were back on an even keel in our marriage and back to our usual routine of weekly or fortnightly sex. 

But this was five and a half years after birth! 

So many mums are not having good sex whilst their kids are young

Clio Wood

It was only then that it felt right to try for another baby.

So many mums are not having good sex while their kids are young.

We all feel alone, and need to hear that there are others going through the same thing.

I am here to give scared women a much-needed glimmer of hope that after having a baby your sex life is not done and dusted.

You need patience, time, information and maybe some outside help like counselling.

But us mums need to be aware that there isn’t anything to be ashamed of if you’re not feeling sexy postnatally, and there are usually lots of things you can do to fix it.

The birth of our wonderful daughter saw the death of our sex life, and it was awful.

But with time, and the right guidance, our marriage is now better than ever. And we did not suffer the same fate after having our second daughter, Echo, now two.

  • Clio Wood is a women’s sexual health and wellbeing advocate and author of Get Your Mojo Back: Sex, Pleasure And Intimacy After Birth.
  • How Not to Let Having Kids Ruin Your Sex Life, by Dr Karen Gurney, out April 4

Three times a week? No way

IN her new book, How Not To Let Having Kids Ruin Your Sex Life, sexologist Dr Karen Gurney explains that Sexual dissatisfaction is at its highest for couples in the period after having kids.

And she says that most couples do not start having sex again until their children are six or over.

She explained: “A crying child has an impact on what’s happening in your sex life and for your desire. We tend to see that the more times you get up in the night, the less happy you are with your sex life.”

Being tired affects the body’s sexual response as we need sleep for the “chemicals in the body that help us be prepared for arousal to build”.

She added on Steven Bartlett’s Diary Of A CEO podcast that there is a “cognitive distraction of being woken up by something quite upsetting”, such as a baby crying.

Her advice is that parents should share the workload. That way you are more likely to have a similar mindset towards sex rather than “one of you getting a good night’s sleep and feeling horny all the time and another one getting up three times and sex is the last thing on their mind”.

She also dispelled the myth that most couples have sex three times a week – and said it is more like three times a month.

  • How Not To Let Having Kids Ruin Your Sex Life, by Dr Karen Gurney, is out on April 4.

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