Lochia. For several weeks after the delivery—even if it's a C-section—the vagina will discharge lochia, a mix of residual blood, mucus, and tissue from inside the uterus. Lochia discharge generally lasts from two to six weeks, and its mere concept can be a powerful anti-aphrodisiac.
Be sure to educate your man about lochia, describing its composition and color changes, and using the completely unsexy word "discharge" in doing so. Simply reading the following passage on lochia from the popular guidebook What to Expect the First Year by Arlene Eisenberg, Heidi E. Murkoff, and Sandee E. Hathaway, could keep him squeamish for days: "Then, as the healing progresses and the bleeding slows, the discharge gradually turns to a watery pink, then to brown, and finally to a yellowish white."
Vaginal soreness. To help your man appreciate that you can still be sore after six weeks, ask him to describe a time when he took a really hard shot in the crotch. Make him elaborate on the incident until he's wincing at the memory, and then say, "Now, how long did that knee/elbow/soccer ball/chair back actually make contact with your groin? Mhmm. And you were doubled over for about how long afterwards? Mhmm. All right, honey, how long was I in labor? Mhmm . . ."
Because vaginal soreness and dryness are common when couples resume having sex, lubrication is advisable—and, unless they immediately want to start the whole baby-making process over again, so is contraception—even if she's breastfeeding. It's a myth that nursing women can't get pregnant.
Cesarean/episiotomy, perineal tearing. With births involving surgery, women have to be careful to keep their stitches free from the risk of reopening or infection. The recommended waiting period is still six weeks, although some women have to delay resuming intercourse longer because of problems with the wounds. Another gender comparison may help your man be more understanding: have him talk to a guy who has had a vasectomy. As Dion, a father of four from Perth, Australia, recounts, "I was a bit sore and protective after my vasectomy. The thought of having sex didn't even cross my mind for several days afterwards—and that was without any swelling or bleeding. It's given me a lot more empathy for women and what they go through giving birth."
Exhaustion. This usually needs no explanation from mothers, as most dads go through it too during those first few months. Tom, a new father from New York, says that he and his partner don't get around to sex because they are "tired and have to deal with the baby a lot." Kevin, also from New York City, tells the same story: he says that their six-week wait "has been tough, but we've been kinda tired and distracted with the baby anyway."