Sex After Baby: Tips for an Active Sex Life
Congratulations on giving birth to your baby! So, when can you start having sex again, and what should you do to prepare? Here are some general guidelines to follow for postpartum sex. Remember to check with your doctor or midwife about birth control first.
If you had a normal birth...
Most new mothers are advised to hold off on intercourse until six weeks after delivery, which is when they have their postpartum checkup. You'll want to make sure that you've had a chance to heal, and that the lochia (discharge of leftover blood and uterine tissue) has stopped. Pay attention to your body -- the time your body takes to recover is largely individual. Your partner should wear a condom, and you might need to use a personal lubricant.
If you had an episiotomy, c-section, or other procedure...
If you had an episiotomy or other laceration, the time it takes to heal will depend on how extensive it was and where the cutting was done. Even at six weeks, women who have had this procedure will probably still have discomfort if they attempt intercourse. Fortunately, there are ways to alleviate some of that discomfort. In some cases, an over-the-counter, water-based vaginal lubricant can help.
Other factors affecting readiness
Your hormones won't return to normal until after you've begun menstruating again. That may not be for four to 12 weeks after delivery. If you're breastfeeding, it might take considerably longer.
Also, caring for a newborn day and night may leave you too fatigued to want sex. You might feel "touched out" after cuddling a newborn much of the day. Talk to your partner about your feelings.
What to Expect
When you resume having sex, it may be slightly -- or very -- uncomfortable at first. You and your partner may have some fears about whether you've healed completely (even though your doctor gave you the go-ahead to have sex). Here are three things you need to know about postpartum sex:
1. It will be different. Accept that you'll be making love rather delicately during these first few months. Your postpregnancy sex may also be plagued by common fears that your body will feel "different" to your partner after having given birth. The genital area does revert to its prepregnancy state. Kegel exercise can help to restrengthen the pelvic floor muscles.
2. Your breasts have changed -- again. After you have a baby, your breasts that were perhaps fuller, firmer, and more fun to have in bed with you may now suddenly be leaking on you and your partner during sex.
3. Your partner may have hidden fears. Your partner may have fears or questions he or she is afraid to bring up. Men expect your body to go through major changes during pregnancy, but many are unprepared for the physical changes women will experience after baby.
If your partner is in the delivery room with you, he can be awed by the miracle of birth yet simultaneously stunned by the physical pain and trauma you're experiencing. The good news: This typically proves to be a temporary phase, and as with most things postpartum, all that's needed to help fade those images is a little time.
Reviewed 11/02 by Elizabeth Stein, CNM
All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.