How to Have Sex After Normal Delivery

Happy Couple Cuddling in Bed in Morning

Many new moms experience fatigue, vaginal bleeding and a lower libido after delivery. These symptoms, along with low levels of estrogen that cause vaginal dryness, can make sex uncomfortable and even painful.

In addition, if you had a surgical cut (episiotomy) or tear in the area of the perineum, they may also affect sex. Your provider will examine the wound and determine when you’re ready for sex again.

Vaginal Delivery

Normal delivery, also called vaginal birth, is the birth of offspring in mammals, including humans, through the vagina, also known as the “birth canal.” It’s the most common method of childbirth worldwide and results in lower maternal morbidity and mortality than C-section deliveries.

During vaginal birth, you’ll experience all three stages of labor and delivery: contractions, dilation and effacement, and the baby’s actual birth. The first stage begins with your uterus contracting to enlarge the cervix, or opening into the vagina. This process can take anywhere from hours to days.

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Once the cervix reaches about 40 weeks gestation, it will move into the second phase of labor, where the fetal head changes from flexion to extension so it can pass through the pelvic inlet and under the symphysis pubis. Your doctor may apply a tool, called forceps (they look like two large salad spoons put together), to assist in the delivery if you are having difficulty getting your baby down.

As you recover from vaginal delivery, you may notice some bleeding and discharge (lochia) that can be any color or have an odor. This is a normal part of recovery and will stop when your uterus heals, which can take from six to eight weeks. Until then, you’ll need to wait before having sex and use protection. You’ll have a postpartum visit where your provider will check your vagina, uterus, and perineum for any signs of healing and bruising.

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C-Section Delivery

C-sections are more common than vaginal deliveries, but each woman’s recovery is different. Typically, you will be allowed to start moving around more quickly and easily within the first few days after surgery. You will also be able to have solid food as your bowel function improves. By the time you get to your six-week postpartum check, most sutures are absorbed and your uterus will have returned to its normal size, says Gaither. You should avoid putting pressure on your incision and should have penetrative sex only after the doctor has given the go-ahead, which is usually at this six-week visit.

Some reasons for a C-section include a breech (feet-first) presentation, a pelvic fracture, certain health conditions like heart disease that could worsen with labor, or the presence of genital herpes. A C-section may also be necessary if your baby is too large to fit through the birth canal or if the umbilical cord gets wrapped around the baby. After a C-section, you will experience heavy bleeding of bright red blood, called lochia, that can last for up to 6 weeks.

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Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding requires a lot of energy, and you may need to focus your attention on caring for your baby. This can affect your interest in sex, but it is normal to gradually regain that desire over time. Talking openly about expectations with your partner can help ease any confusion about how your bodies feel during this time. Your vagina can become dry and tender due to hormonal shifts during breastfeeding, so a personal lubricant can help reduce discomfort. You can still get pregnant during this period if you are not using birth control, so it is important to use protection when you do resume sex.

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