Sex after C-section: The Advice that Women Do (and Don’t) Need
So have you heard the news that women who have had c-sections are “lucky bitches” because their vaginas are tighter than their vaginal-birthing sisters?
And have you read The Feminist Breeder’s (TFB) respectful, insightful, and altogether awesome response to this news (spouted forth by Kristen Chase in her recently published book, The Mominatrix’s Guide to Sex: A No-Surrender Advice Book for Naughty Moms)?
And have you read the honest and, at times, heartbreaking comments from TFB’s readers? The ones who share their stories about painful adhesions that make sex unbearable or the numbness that has all but taken away what was once a site of sexual pleasure or the emotional scars that inhibit their sex lives or even the traumatic vaginal births that hamper sex in a way that has very little to do with vaginal “tightness”?
Now I’ll admit, I haven’t read Chase’s book, so I can’t comment all that intelligently on the book in its entirety. Nonetheless, I’m also not sure that putting the following Mominatrix quotations in context would help me to feel less offended by them. For Chase writes that:
Quite frankly, women who have not had a vaginal birth will probably not experience as much of a change as those who have shot a baby or two out of their vag. Consider yourselves lucky, you c-section bitches.
And then she goes on to claim that:
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that if you’ve birthed a few seven or eight pounders your vagina will not return to its trim and virginal state without some effort. And even then, it still might be somewhat of a lost cause.
(Can I just leave my many problems with the focus on “trim and virginal” vaginas for another day, another post? ‘Cause otherwise, this post threatens to balloon to a book-length treatise.)
In any case, after TFB wrote her post and received (and continues to receive) over one-hundred comments (including, graciously, one from Chase herself), Chase devoted her weekly radio show to the topic of “Sex after C-section.” And I thought that was mighty bold and magnanimous of her. I mean, she writes about sex, her book containing the offending claims is about sex advice for moms, so why not respond to TFB’s critique by devoting her show to responding with respect and care to those mothers who want and even need some good “sex after c-section” advice?!
Except the advice wasn’t…well, what many c-section mamas are looking for.
At least not the ones commenting on TFB’s blog.
Notably, Chase invited a radio-show guest who had experienced both a vaginal birth and a cesarean section, so this guest did have some perspective on comparing sex after both types of birth experiences.
But she also didn’t share many of the same physical and emotional problems that leave many c-section mamas wanting some good sex-after-cesarean advice. And her lack of perspective left her advice itself a bit lacking and even infuriating at times. (In addition to focusing primarily on ameliorating the appearance of one’s cesarean scar and feeling more confident about one’s post-cesarean body with make-up and lingerie–okaaaaaaay–she also belittled the feelings of those women who were traumatized by their cesarean experiences.)
Now don’t get me wrong–I’m thrilled that Chase’s guest did not and does have to suffer through these problems. I’m thrilled that she and her baby were healthy after her necessary and emergent c-section for a cord prolapse. I’m thrilled she could say that she “felt great” the day she came home from the hospital, didn’t feel “that much pain,” and didn’t think her birth experience was “that big of a deal.” It’s really, truly fantastic.
And I only wish that all women who have undergone major surgery to birth their babies could say the same.
But they can’t.
And in response to those women who can’t say the same–in response to those women who feel emotionally devastated by their cesarean experience–Chase’s guest also commented that she has never let her c-section experience “get in the way of who she is.”
To which Chase replied that “if [women] feel guilty about what happened, it’s not going to help [them] move forward at all.”
And then she encouraged listeners to get on with their lives and “have a giggle about it.”
And then followed that up by joking that the cesarean-birthers out there should “CELEBRATE THE FACT THAT YOU HAVE A TIGHTER VAGINA THAN ME!”
As well-intentioned as the humor in these comments might be, the comments themselves are not helpful to moms seeking sex-after-cesarean advice.
They are not helpful to women who have experienced birth trauma, either as a result of a cesarean or a vaginal birth.
And for a woman who is experiencing sexual dysfunction (let alone other physical problems) as a result of adhesions or post-traumatic stress disorder or postpartum depression or incision-site infection or emotional scars or secondary infertility, the celebration of a “tight vag” is of little comfort.
Which is why I’m going to devote some of my posts over the next few weeks to SEX AFTER C-SECTIONS.
Yes. Me. Writing posts about sex.
Because even though I’m far from a sex-columnist (ha!), I also think women deserve better than what Chase was offering her listeners this morning.
They deserve more respect, more sensitivity, more insight, and more knowledge about the many sexual complications that can occur after cesarean sections.
And I even have some ideas for a few upcoming posts:
Sex after C-section is Sex after Major Abdominal Surgery
Who Has Time for Sexual Healing when You Need Emotional Healing?
The Sexual Body (Beyond the Vagina)
Vaginal Dryness: It Doesn’t Just Happen to Vaginal Birthers
Numb on the Inside/Numb on the Outside
New Moms Need “Time to Themselves” (If Ya Know What I Mean)
C-sections and Secondary Infertility: You are Not Alone
And now I ask you, dear readers:
WHAT SORT OF “SEX AFTER C-SECTION” ADVICE TOPICS WOULD YOU ADD TO THIS LIST?
Updated to add: Danielle from Momotics has archived last night’s radio show, “Cesarean Mothers Speak Out,” featuring Desirree Andrews from Preparing for Birth (and the current President of ICAN) and Gina from The Feminist Breeder. The show was a response to the earlier Mominatrix radio show, and it’s a must listen.