Do a quick Google search for “when can I have sex after baby” and you’ll see that women everywhere are wondering about how pregnancy and childbirth will affect their sex lives. And no wonder – sex is important for your mental, emotional and physical well-being! Yes, your body has changed, and yes sex might be a bit different for awhile, but rest assured that you will enjoy sex again – perhaps even more than you did before you gave birth. However, there are some things you need to be aware of. So let’s talk about sex, post-baby.
When can I get back in the sack?
Your body is still recovering from 9 months of changes and a delivery, so even if you feel ready right away it will need some time to heal. Most doctors will recommend waiting about four to six weeks after childbirth before you start having sex again, depending on whether you had a vaginal delivery or a c-section, and whether there were any complications like tearing or an episiotomy. So it’s best to wait until after your six-week postpartum visit with your doctor before getting back to it.
Even when your doctor gives you the green light, it’s important to pay attention to your own intuition. Some women feel ready weeks before their postpartum visit, others need more time. So don’t put pressure on yourself – it will happen when you’re ready. The important thing is to be upfront with your partner about how you’re feeling about sex. And remember your partner may also not be ready to have sex, so encourage your partner to share their feelings as well.
What about pain?
While you’re healing, you’ll probably be a bit sore so sex might hurt a little at first. However, some women don’t experience pain at all – everyone is different. So don’t force intimacy – you need to give yourself time to heal and get back into the mood. When you start having sex again, go slow and dedicate lots of time to foreplay – which is half the fun anyway!
Another easy way to make things more comfortable is to invest in a good feminine moisturizer. Vaginal dryness is common after delivery, thanks to lower estrogen levels – especially if you’re breastfeeding. This is totally normal and nothing to be embarrassed about, but it can make sex a little uncomfortable. So don’t be shy about bringing it out (whether with your partner or solo).
Speaking of which, what about breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding also affects sex post-baby, from hormones that reduce sex drive, to experiencing leaks or sprays of breast milk (called letdown) during orgasm. You may also find that after nursing a baby all day, your breasts just want to be left alone! But don’t worry – these are all normal and temporary. If letdown during sex bothers you, you can nurse or pump before sex, or wear a bra. Make sure you also tell your partner how much touching your breasts can handle – think of it as a chance to explore your other erogenous zones.
Will sex feel different?
Even if you don’t feel pain, for some new moms sex just feels a little different – and not necessarily in a bad way! Your body had to change to accommodate that new bundle of joy in your life. That can mean changes in how sex feels, and that might take a little getting used to. What’s most important is to make sure your vaginal muscles (aka the pelvic floor muscles) are healthy and strong. Kegel exercises can help tremendously with tightening your vagina, strengthening the pelvic floor muscles (crucial for supporting your pelvic organs and reducing little bladder leaks post-pregnancy), and maybe even improving your orgasms.
Rather than thinking of Kegels as another thing you’re supposed to do during the day (as if you don’t have enough on your plate!), think of them as a chance to do something that’s just for you. A smart Kegel exerciser makes it easy: it measures your pelvic floor strength, chooses the perfect workout for your level and guides you through a routine. You can get the most out of every Kegel, without having to worry about a thing.
Other ways to be intimate.
It makes sense that you might not feel that frisky, but keep in mind that even if you’re not having penetrative sex, there are still lots of ways to be intimate with each other. Take a few moments (or more!) each day, just the two of you, to be affectionate with each other, outside of the bedroom. Simple things can make a big difference in feeling a closer bond with your partner (and as an added bonus can be great foreplay). Plus, researchers in The Journal of Sexual Medicine found that the biggest drivers of sexual desire in new mothers are psychological factors like closeness. So get cuddling – who knows where it will lead!
It may seem overwhelming to handle everything that comes with the arrival of your baby, especially when it comes to keeping romance alive, but don’t get discouraged. Sex shouldn’t be a source of stress. Keeping your relationship strong and the fire alight can help you both recharge, and you may even find that improving intimacy brings you closer together in the bedroom. A stronger relationship and better sex life? Win-win!
For more information about rediscovering your sex life after pregnancy, check out this video by sexual health educator and Intimina Medical Advisory Board member Sue Goldstein.
Please note that advice offered by Intimina may not be relevant to your individual case. For specific concerns regarding your health, always consult your physician or other licensed medical practitioners.