How soon can you have sex after childbirth, are there any differences, and are you ready? All of these questions and more will be answered below. This article is originally from babycenter.com. The #1 pregnancy and parenting digital destination, BabyCenter reaches more than 45 million parents a month from every corner of the globe through its 11 owned and operated properties in 9 different languages. Image courtesy of Wisky via Bigstockphoto.
When is it safe to start having sex again?
Many caregivers recommend waiting about four weeks after you give birth. It’s definitely not safe to have intercourse involving penetration until at least two weeks after delivery. During this time, you’re usually still bleeding and at risk for a hemorrhage or uterine infection.
After you get your caregiver’s go-ahead, it’s okay to start having sex again as soon as you feel ready and not before.
When will I feel like having sex again?
It’s common to have a low libido in the weeks or even months after having a baby. In the first six weeks after delivery, you’re likely to be exhausted, and possibly sore and overwhelmed. Your body needs time to heal. And you’re dealing with the 24/7 demands of caring for a newborn.
You’re likely to have less natural vaginal lubrication in the first four to six weeks after the birth due to your body’s decreasing level of estrogen during this time. If you’re breastfeeding your baby, this dryness may continue for as long as you continue to nurse. Or it may return slowly as your nursing sessions become less frequent.
There are plenty of other reasons you may not feel like having sex right now. Adjusting to motherhood may be stressful or emotionally all-consuming. You may feel less attractive or less confident in your changing body at this point. You may fear becoming pregnant again, particularly if you are using a new form of contraception. Or you may be struggling with baby blues or postpartum depression.
If you’re not ready to resume your sex life yet, give yourself a break. You need time to adjust both physically and emotionally to the demands of caring for a baby, and there’s no need to rush into having sex until you feel ready. In time, sex can be as satisfying as it was before your baby came along.
What if I think I’m ready for sex, but I’m worried about the pain?
You may be worried that perineal tearing or an episiotomy, you’re likely to be particularly tender in that area. For some women, the tenderness resolves relatively quickly. Others may have discomfort for months after delivery.
Take it slow and easy, and try to enjoy each other’s bodies without specific expectations of where it will lead. Try to find a time when you won’t feel rushed through lovemaking. If you’re not sure you’re ready for intercourse, consider manual or oral stimulation around the clitoris. You can ask your partner to avoid the perineum and vagina if they’re still sore.
Once you’re feeling ready to give intercourse a try, you might experiment with different positions where you can control the depth of penetration. If you had a c-section, consider making love side-by-side so there’s no pressure on your wound. Using a lubricant should reduce any discomfort you might feel from vaginal dryness. Be sure to let your partner know what feels good and what doesn’t as you’re going along.
If, after the recommended waiting period, you find that sex is still painful, or you’re too worried or sore to even try, consider seeing a pelvic rehab physical therapist. Pelvic rehabilitation can help alleviate lots of different uncomfortable symptoms that plague postpartum moms, including painful sex, urinary leaking, and others.
When will my vagina be back to normal?
Your vagina will certainly be stretched out just after childbirth, but it will start to shrink and regain muscle tone within a few days. Whether or not your vagina returns to its original size depends on a number of factors: genetics, the size of your baby, the number of children you’ve had, and whether you do Kegel exercises regularly.
How will breastfeeding affect my sex life?
It can. The hormone prolactin, which is boosted by nursing, stimulates milk production, but it may also dampen your libido.
You’ll probably also find that you have less vaginal lubrication than you did when you were pregnant, due to lower levels of estrogen while you’re nursing. Using a lubricant will help reduce discomfort you might feel from vaginal dryness.
Lubricants are usually found near the condoms or the tampons and sanitary pads in the drugstore. Be sure to get a water-based lubricant, especially if you’re using a barrier method for birth control, since oil-based lubricants can weaken latex and cause a condom to break.
Your breasts may not feel like an erogenous zone the way they did before. You may also find that at times they’re too tender for touching or sexual stimulation. Let your partner know how much touching or sucking you’d like.
You may worry that your breasts will leak at an inconvenient time – and they might. During climax, some women discover that they experience letdown (their breasts leak or spray milk). That’s because the hormones that are present during orgasm are also present during letdown. If it bothers you, nurse your baby or empty your breasts by pumping before having sex. As time goes on and breastfeeding becomes more established, leaking during sex may not happen as frequently.
What are my options for birth control?
It’s best to think about birth control before you deliver. Once you give birth, you may start ovulating again at any time, and because you will ovulate before you get your first postpartum period, you can get pregnant if you have unprotected sex during this time. Use condoms until you’ve got reliable contraception in place.
Talk to your practitioner about what kind of contraception will work best for you now. You may be able to resume using the birth control method you used in the past, or you may decide that something else would work better. Your options will depend in part on whether you want to have more children in the next few years and whether you’re breastfeeding. See our article on postpartum contraception for a summary of your choices and links to more information.
How will having a new baby in our lives change our feelings toward each other?
You may find (or your partner may sense) that the intensity of the bond you’re developing with your new baby makes you somewhat less emotionally available. On the other hand, a new baby can bring such joy to your lives that it enhances sexual intimacy.
If your partner is feeling jealous or intimidated by your relationship with the baby, try giving frequent reassurance that your love and need for your partner hasn’t changed. And make sure that your partner has plenty of opportunity to care for and bond with the baby as well. Sharing the joys and frustrations of parenthood can be very rewarding and can even intensify your romantic feelings for each other.
How can we find the time for sex with a baby around?
If possible, set aside time to be alone for sex. If you find you’re distracted and always listening for the baby, perhaps you can arrange to leave the baby with a family member or reliable sitter for an hour or two. If you can’t, then you’ll have to work around the baby’s naps or bedtime.
Your baby will no doubt wake up at the most inconvenient time. It helps to keep your sense of humor. And be patient. Things will get easier when your baby starts sleeping through the night. And you’ll be less tired then, too.
How can I keep intimacy alive if I’m not ready for sex?
There are many ways to be intimate. Take a few minutes to kiss and cuddle before falling asleep at night. Ask for a massage or foot rub. Let your mate know that you appreciate affection outside of lovemaking by saying things like, “I love it when you stroke my hair.” It will be clear that the spark is still there if you let your partner know that a kiss on the back of your neck while you’re tending to your baby sends shivers (the good kind) down your spine.