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Woman Becomes Afraid Of Sex After A 36-Hour Long Labour

Woman Becomes Afraid Of Sex After A 36-Hour Long Labour

When Lucy Wyatt was handed her newborn son after a gruelling 36 hour-long labour, she expected to feel relief and the overwhelming surge of love.

But when midwives placed her baby boy on her breast, her first thought was, 'you did this to me.'

Lucy says the traumatic birth, which she was forced to endure with no anaesthetic, left her exhausted and begging for a Caesarean. She was given an episiotomy and eventually gave birth to Henry with no pain relief.After the birth, Lucy needed multiple stitches and was sent home still in considerable pain.

The experience  - which Lucy herself describes as 'horrific' - not only left her shattered emotionally and physically - but left her terrified of having sexual relations with her husband.

Lucy's experience mirrors that of many women, who according to a new survey are fearful of sex following childbirth.

Results of the poll found that almost half of mums are so traumatised by childbirth that they delay having sex for four months.

And of those women who do struggle to reignite their sex lives after giving birth, the poll, of 10,000 women, found that three quarters fail to talk to anyone about the problem.

For Lucy, the negative birth experience was impossible to shake off. “It was really, really bad. I couldn't have imagined it would be that bad.

“I had a long labour - 36 hours - and I was begging for a C-section. I couldn't have any anaestheic. To make matters worse, I also had retained product, episiotomy and lots of stitches.

 Lucy says she was in 'lots of pain' when she went back home - and while she expected the pain to get better with time, it actually worsened.

'I was still in a lot of pain. I thought maybe the stitches were too tight, maybe this was supposed to happen. But the pain got gradually worse. And I didn't realise it at time - but I had signs of PND.

'I grew away from Henry when I was supposed to be growing close to him. I looked at him in hospital and thought - what have you done to me?'

At first, Lucy didn't feel the same level of blame towards her husband. But further down the line, she says she began to fear rekindling her love life with her husband in case sex led to another pregnancy.

'I got worried that if we had sex again it could happen. And I was worried about how much it would hurt,' she says.

The survey said half of mothers wait up to four months to have sex. Before Lucy tried, 14 months had passed.

The residential expert Dr Dawn Harper said Lucy's fear was actually incredibly common.

“You tick so many boxes - traumatic birth, pain, Post Natal Depression - I would be more surprised if you had been having a very happy, healthy sex life early on,' she said.

“Every woman after a vaginal delivery worries sex will hurt. And there's a deeper psychology there that sex is what got you in this mess in the first place.

As a first time mother who had a traumatic delivery there is an element of shock. Plus sleepless nights - bed becomes for sleeping in.'

Dr Dawn says many women do not think about intercourse until the six-week check. 'We always start talking about contraception at that point,' she says.

“Depending what surveys you look at, about one in 20 won't have sex within six months. Most are back within a year - but Lucy had a lot to contend with.”

Eventually, after 14 months Lucy's sex life was brought back on track. 'At five months I had counselling for PND and we did talk about sex, but I still didn't feel comfortable with it.

“After 14 months, I tried again - easing myself into it. I ended up pregnant again. It was probably a good thing. If it had had to be planned, I don't think there would have been a second.  

“Because of my previous experience, I didn't believe it. I took about 30 tests until a friend said, "you're pregnant. Buy some folic acid".'

The second birth was better than the first; Lucy describes it as ' okay'. 'I decided early on I wanted an epidural,' she says.

'It was fine. I had Emma, and I looked at her and thought, "Oh lovely" - it was how I thought I would have felt the first time.

But the good fortune was not to last. A few days after giving birth and while she was still in hospital, Emma realised she was incontinent.

“My waterworks were not working at all. If I coughed, I wet myself. If I stood up, it would flood. The hospital said I could go home, but I knew something wasn't right. I was incontinent until a year later, when I had an operation.

Lucy also suffered a uterus prolapse. 'There was so much swelling I was constantly uncomfortable,' she says. 'I had a lot of pelvic pain.'

By this point, sex was entirely off the agenda and Lucy's husband John was feeling desperate.

“As a wife, did you have in your head, "I need to be a wife again", asked Ruth Langsford. 'Did you have those worries? Did you fear he would look elsewhere?'

“John would instigate sex and I'd say no,' Lucy confessed. “I couldn't kiss and cuddle because I knew he'd want to go further. My self-esteem was so low. I felt I smelled of urine the whole time.”

Lucy finally managed to have sex again after 20 months. But while Lucy feared that she was alone in her suffering, Dr Dawn says such issues are far more commonplace than women realise.

“Lucy had a big baby and a traumatic, interventional delivery. The incontinence with the second baby was partly down to problems caused with the first baby. The stretching of the pelvic floor muscles caused the prolapse.

“It's something women don't talk about,” she says. 'But I wish they did - they would realise they are not alone.

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