Pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding change a lot about how women feel about sex. They may not feel ready or interested at all after delivery.
It’s important to wait until you get the all-clear to resume sex from your healthcare provider. This usually comes during a six-week postpartum appointment. But everyone heals at a different pace, so listen to your body!
Your cervix might be sore
It can take 4-6 weeks for your cervix to close following birth, and it’s possible you may experience pain, discomfort or bleeding during sex. Luckily, it’s temporary and will improve. If you’re concerned, talk to your doctor and use a lubricant to help ease any friction between your vulva and vaginal wall.
Many doctors recommend waiting to have sex until you’re fully recovered from childbirth and your menstrual cycle has resumed. This helps reduce the risk of complications, like a ruptured uterus or infection. If you delivered via C-section, you’ll likely be told to wait even longer because your incision can take a long time to heal.
In addition, hormones post delivery can change how your body feels and makes the cervix more sensitive. You also might be breastfeeding, which can further decrease your libido and cause your body to produce more milk for the baby.
The important thing to remember is that every woman’s pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum experience is different. You and your partner should talk about it and decide what’s best for you. You’re probably not ready for sex at all if you haven’t been sleeping, you’re dealing with stress and adjusting to your new life, or you have a low libido. It’s OK to wait until you feel ready. But always have backup birth control — either a condom or a hormonal method — because you can still get pregnant, even though you’ve just had a baby.
You might have a low libido
Many women find that their libido is lower after pregnancy and childbirth than it was before. This is usually because they are sleep deprived, stressed and have not exercised in months, and that can cause them to feel physically and emotionally drained. This is completely normal, and if the problem persists you should talk to your doctor about it.
Depending on the cause of your low libido, there are different treatments that your doctor may recommend. For example, if it is caused by depression or other mental health issues, counseling and/or medication can help. In addition, if it is due to physical reasons, treatment options like weight loss, exercise and reducing stress factors can help. For couples, counseling or relationship therapy can also help.
However, for some women, a low libido is simply because they do not want to have sex. This is perfectly okay, as long as the sex that does occur is consensual and respectful. If you are feeling this way, it is worth talking to your partner about it so that they can understand that the lack of desire is not a reflection of their value as a partner or a reflection of their feelings towards you. This can help alleviate tension and prevent resentment and can make for a happier, healthier, more fulfilling relationship.
You might have stitches
If you’ve had a vaginal delivery, you may have suffered from a tear in the area between your vagina and back passage (known as the perineum). These tears are usually caused by a lot of stretching during childbirth. Small tears heal by themselves, while larger ones require stitches. If you have stitches, it’s important that you don’t have sexual intercourse until your doctor says it’s safe to do so. Otherwise, you might suffer from a hemorrhage or uterine infection.
Most doctors use dissolvable sutures to repair the perineum, so you won’t have to have them removed. However, your doctor will likely examine the area to make sure the stitches are healing properly. You can also ask your midwife or health visitor to take a look, but be aware that this might be uncomfortable.
If you have a large tear, it’s a good idea to use a water-based lubricant before having sex. This is available from pharmacies and will help to reduce the pain caused by your stitches. You should also try to keep your perineal area clean and dry, and avoid using tampons. You can also soak your vulva in warm water several times a day to help keep the area healthy and free from bacteria. You should also start pelvic floor exercises when your midwife or GP gives you the go-ahead, as they can improve your circulation and help prevent bladder and bowel leakage.
You might have a c-section
For many new mamas, it can take time to feel comfortable getting intimate again after the birth of their baby. But when the time is right, most couples resume sexual activity at a normal rate. However, the timing of sex postpartum is different for every woman. In fact, some people may find that they are done having sex after just a few weeks after childbirth, while others don’t want to have it until months after their babies have been born.
Women who had c-sections need to wait longer before having sexual intercourse, because the placenta might still be attached to the uterus, and it’s important not to disturb the tissue. Also, having a c-section can cause the cervix to dilate, and sexual intercourse can irritate this area. It’s also a good idea to use a lubricant, such as BabyDance, to help make intimacy more comfortable.
Despite all of these factors, it’s still possible to have a satisfying and enjoyable sex life after the birth of your baby. Just be sure to talk to your healthcare provider about when it’s okay to resume sexual activity, and listen to your body so you can return to a healthy, happy relationship. You’ll usually have a chance to discuss contraception with your healthcare provider before you leave the hospital after your baby’s birth and again at your postnatal check.