Expert advice on how long you should wait before resuming sex after giving birth, and how you can help your partner cope in the meantime.
At your six-week postpartum checkup, your doctor will tell you whether or not it's okay to resume sex. Even if she does give you the go-ahead, though, it may be the last thing you want to do, even if your partner can't wait.
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You may have heard stories from friends who didn't have postpartum sex for six months—and that's not an unreasonable time to wait before resuming sex, particularly if you have pain caused by stitches or tearing, but it's essential to respect your partner's needs while meeting your own. The worst nightmare many husbands have is that they will be rejected and replaced by the child, says sexologist Ava Cadell, Ph.D., author of Twelve Steps to Everlasting Love.
Begin by explaining to your husband how "your psyche is in a completely different place," says Cadell. Describe sensitive or sore spots, and gently remind him that it might take you a while to get out of Mommy Mode after this life-altering event.
Don't put a timetable on when you'll resume sex, but see how you feel after waiting a few more weeks. Who knows? You might change your mind.
No matter how long you choose to wait, though, don't shut your husband out completely. Instead, try to be open-minded and suggest compromises that can make both of you happy. "Kissing and hugging are mandatory," Cadell says. "If you kiss passionately a few times a day, I guarantee that will keep the juices flowing between you." Oral sex can also be a great substitute for intercourse. (Some men even find it more erotic.)
Sex After Baby: How Long Should I Wait to Have Sex?
Holly Robinson is a writer who lives with her husband and their five children north of Boston.
Originally published in American Baby magazine, September 2004. Updated in 2018.