Sex after pregnancy may be the last thing on your mind — but whenever you’re ready, here are a few things we and the Mayo Clinic think you should know about your body and health.
How soon can I have sex after giving birth?
Whether you have a vaginal birth or C-section, you and your body will need time to heal. Talk to your healthcare provider about having sex. Your doctor will be able to give you the green light for when it is safest to start having intercourse again. Typically, your doctor will say you can have sex four to six weeks after the baby is born. This allows time for the cervix to close, postpartum bleeding to stop and any tears or repaired lacerations to properly heal. Learn how soon you can have sex after a c-section here.
The most important timeline: Your own!
Everyone is different and has different childbirth experiences. Some women feel ready to resume sex within a few weeks of giving birth. On the other hand, some women need a few months or longer to feel ready to have sex.
A few factors that may take a toll on your sex drive include:
- Fear of pain
Will it hurt? Listen to what your body is trying to tell you.
Your body is going through a lot of hormonal changes that can leave your vagina dry and tender, especially if you’re breast-feeding. Because of this, you might experience pain during sex as well as if you’re healing from an episiotomy or perineal tears. Extensive tears will especially cause discomfort or fear of discomfort after giving childbirth.
Ways you can avoid pain during intercourse after childbirth:
Take things slow to help ease any discomfort during sex. Listen to your body. Cuddling, kissing or giving each other massages is a great way to start things slow and feel out your comfort or pain level. You can gradually build intensity and stimulation. If vaginal dryness is a problem, you can always try use a lubricating cream or gel. Experiment with different positions to take pressure off any sore areas and so you can control penetration. You might also want to experiment with different sexual stimulation until you’re completely healed. Once again, talk with your partner and tell them what feels good and what doesn’t. It’s all about being happy, healthy and enjoying each other.
Try some of these pain-relieving practices beforehand:
- Empty your bladder
- Take a warm bath
- Take an over-the-counter pain reliever
- If you experience burning, try wrapping ice in a small towel and applying to the area
You can also drink a glass of wine (right after feeding, so it won’t affect your milk). Here are a few of the breastfeeding basics: Breastfeeding Basics for New Moms. Try whatever will help you relax and get in the mood.
Throughout all of this, just be mindful to focus on the moment, yourself and your partner. Enjoy yourself and this special moment between you and your partner.
Will sex feel different after giving birth?
After giving birth, you’ll have decreased muscle tone in your vagina which may reduce pleasurable friction during sex. This is usually temporary, but if you’re concerned about it talk with your doctor to come up with solutions.
If you want to tone your muscles and get back in the game, try Kegel exercises. You can do these by:
- Tightening your pelvic muscles as if you’re stopping your stream of urine
- Start out slowly by contracting your muscles for only a few seconds. Eventually work your way up to keeping your muscles contracted for 10 seconds at a time.
- Make sure to relax for 10 seconds between contractions.
- Once you’ve gotten the hang of it, do at least three sets of Kegel exercises per day.
Never feel bad about not wanting sex. Stay true to yourself. You’ll know when you’re ready.
If you’re too tired to have sex, don’t worry about it! That’s okay. You’re a new mom and have a lot to deal with right now. Talk openly and honestly with your partner about your feelings, your needs. You can try a number of different things. Maybe you can get intimate in the morning while your baby is taking a nap.
If you’re not interested in sex at this time, that’s okay too! There’s more to an intimate relationship than just sex. Share your concerns with your partner and you can easily maintain intimacy in other ways. Spend a few minutes alone without the baby whenever you can. Exchange text messages and phone calls throughout the day. Look for ways to express affection. You can even take your love language quiz together!
If you don’t feel like communicating with your partner or find pleasure in everyday things, be aware of the signs for postpartum depression. Here are a few signs of postpartum depression:
- Intense irritability
- Overwhelming fatigue
- Lack of joy in life
- Difficulty bonding with your baby
To learn more about postpartum depression and what to look out for, check out our blog:
What can I do to enhance my sex drive?
Most women find that their sex drive problems get resolved within the year. But there are a few things you can do to focus on your physical and mental health. You can:
- Be kind to yourself.
- Set reasonable expectations as you adjust to being a new parent.
- Eat healthy and drink plenty of fluids. Hydration is key to a healthy life.
- Incorporate physical activity into your daily routine, such as doing squats with your baby or sit ups.
Youtube video of working out with baby:
- Rest as much as you can.
- Ask your partner, your friends and your family for help. You have your hands full!
- Join a support group for mothers. It takes a village, right?
If you’re feeling pain or discomfort during sex, call your OB-GYN doctors
If you’re feeling pain during sexual intercourse, be aware of the symptoms and when pain occurs. If you are at all concerned, don’t hesitate to contact us. We proudly help women throughout every stage of their life.