Postpartum sex is a delicate issue, no pun intended. On one hand, you have your new bundle of joy to focus on. On the other, you’re tired, your body doesn’t look or feel the same as before baby, and your hormones are trying to re-normalize.
You don’t want to neglect your partner, but you may have a lot of questions and concerns regarding sex after a baby. Read on for tips and answers to help you know when it’s the right time to get intimate in the bedroom again.
How giving birth affects sex
Women often report painful sex postpartum, or even that they’re not in the mood for it. This is completely normal as the body goes through a major healing process in the first weeks after delivery. Hormones also play a large role in your mood and how you look and feel after giving birth.
Every woman is different in how quickly her body heals and her hormones go back to pre-pregnancy levels.
Giving birth does a real number on your body.
Here are some ways that delivery can affect your body, which in turn affects sex after pregnancy:
- Stretched or damaged pelvic floor muscles, which can cause your muscles to feel weak or loose during sex
- Vaginal dryness due to reduced levels of estrogen, especially while breastfeeding as estrogen can even drop below pre-pregnancy levels
- Pain and soreness due to stretching during delivery
- The thinness of vaginal walls or loss of elasticity resulting from stretching and reduced postpartum hormone levels
- Bleeding, hemorrhaging, or lochia, which you can learn more about in “Lochia: Everything you need to know about postpartum bleeding”
- Low libido due to many factors including lower estrogen and progesterone levels, your mental and emotional state, or even just being tired or stressed
- Episiotomy or perineal tearing, which takes extra time to heal depending on where and how long the tear or incision is
- Cesarean birth, which can cause vaginal dryness and thinness because of reduced hormone levels, as well as recovery of the incision and abdominal muscles after surgery
- Fatigue caused by your body’s need to continue recuperating or from the demands and lack of sleep you may be having
Not every woman will experience these effects, but many do. So if you’re experiencing anything that affects your ability to have postpartum sex, just know that you’re not alone and may need a bit more time to let your body and mind recover.
How long after birth can you have sex?
The benchmark for sex after giving birth seems to be around six weeks. However, every woman heals at her and her body’s own pace, and each individual’s hormones take a different amount of time to regulate.
In addition, sex after episiotomy could require even more healing time to avoid any retearing, infection, or building up of painful scar tissue. If you’re breastfeeding, you may also experience reduced libido for several months.
One thing to note is that you can get pregnant again quite quickly after giving birth.
If you’re not breastfeeding, then it’s possible to conceive within six weeks of delivery. For breastfeeding women, as long as you’re not menstruating yet, you may have more time before the possibility of becoming pregnant. Either way, it’s a good idea to use non-hormonal protection like a barrier method once you resume sex after baby.
And don’t worry if you don’t feel like having postpartum sex in the first couple of months. It’s normal, and the majority of women resume sex after giving birth sometime within six months, so don’t rush yourself, and do what feels right for you.
What to expect
Once you start having sex after a baby, you may find that it’s not as enjoyable at first. It could be because of pain and tenderness, or possibly dryness, or even a general self-consciousness you may feel about your body. You may feel some looseness and weakness in your vaginal muscles, as well, which affect your level of pleasure.
However, on the flip side, many women report having even better sex postpartum.
This is due, in large part, to changes in your inner body shape during pregnancy, which may shift pleasure spots to more accessible angles, as well as increased genital and vaginal sensitivity. So you may find that postpartum sex brings you even better orgasms than before.
One important thing to keep in mind is that your low postpartum libido isn’t a bad thing. While breastfeeding, your body releases oxytocin (the love hormone) to help you bond with your new baby, but it also reduces libido. So fear not – you will eventually desire sex after giving birth – it just might take a little time.
Bleeding during postpartum sex
As your uterus heals after childbirth, it’s not uncommon to have some bleeding the first few weeks. However, it might also be an indicator of a more serious problem if it persists beyond four to six weeks or gets worse in any way. In that case, it’s best to consult your doctor and wait for his/her okay before resuming sexual activity.
At whatever point you do feel like having sex after birth, keep in mind that your vaginal walls may be a bit thinner and you might experience some dryness due to lower hormone levels. This means that postpartum sex could cause a bit of bleeding, as well.
10 Tips for better sex after pregnancy
So what’s the solution? Not have postpartum sex at all for several months? No way! If you’re ready to get intimate with your partner again, then here are 10 tips to make it as easy and comfortable for you as possible.
Communicate with each other
This is the most important one, so we’re putting it first. Whatever you’re feeling physically, mentally, or emotionally, share it with your partner. Be open about what you need and how they can best be there for you. And listen to what your partner needs and what you can do even if sex isn’t an option yet.
Because of vaginal dryness, you may need to use lubricant for a while until your hormones go back to normal. Just make sure it’s water-based lubricant as oil-based lubes can break down condoms and put you at risk of getting pregnant again before you’re ready. Lubricated condoms are another great option.
Try different positions
If you’re feeling pain or tenderness, or your vaginal muscles don’t feel as strong, experiment with different positions until you find what feels good for you and your partner. Who knows, you might even spice up your love life with some new moves you never tried before.
Do something to make yourself feel good
You might not be feeling your best after childbirth, and sex after pregnancy may make you feel a bit body-conscious. So do something for yourself to boost your self-love and make yourself feel relaxed and calm. Get a new haircut, buy a new outfit, get a massage, take a relaxing bath before sex, or even just remind yourself of how amazing you are to have brought an incredible little human into the world.
Change up your sex routine
Sex after giving birth is an opportunity for a new adventure. If you feel too tired to have sex at night, trying having it in the middle of the day during your baby’s naptime. Feeling uninspired with the bedroom? Try some new locations in other rooms of the house. Use postpartum sex as an excuse to shake things up a bit.
Explore other ways to get intimate
If you’re not ready for full-on sex after birth, explore other ways to pleasure each other. If penetration is painful or uncomfortable, try oral sex. Give each other sensual massages. Stimulate each other by touch. Or even just spend some quality time in each other’s arms. Intimacy goes beyond sex, so get creative with finding other ways to feel close to your partner.
Do Kegels or pilates
One of the best things you can do to strengthen your vaginal and pelvic floor muscles is to do Kegels and pilates. If you find that you pee a little when you sneeze, that’s because your pelvic floor muscles are weak. Kegel exercises can help firm up those muscles, which will increase sexual pleasure and can even intensify your orgasms.
Make time for foreplay
Foreplay is always important, but especially when having sex after birth. Because you might be feeling sore or tired or low libido, spend some extra time getting the mood going. If it helps, create a love-making atmosphere or introduce some new elements into your love-making like role-playing or toys.
One of the best things you can do for yourself is to explore your own body and see what you like. If you’re feeling pain while having postpartum sex, masturbation can help you figure out what feels good and what to stay away from so you can tell your partner what to do. Masturbation will also put you back in touch with your own feminine body so you can feel how it’s changed after pregnancy and how you can still revel in the pleasure of your womanhood.
Take things slowly
Lastly, be patient with each other. Whether you’re eager or hesitant to dive back under the sheets, it’s good to take it slowly and ease yourself back into sex after baby. Focus on showing each other that you care and are there for each other, and make it a priority to connect emotionally as well as physically.
Even if you experience painful sex postpartum or aren’t yet in the mood to resume sex after giving birth, don’t worry. You’re not alone, and many women go through the same experience. The important thing is to stay in communication with your partner and your doctor, and move at your own pace. There is no right or wrong time to resume sex after a baby, and with the tips we shared, hopefully, you’ll feel more comfortable and better connected with your partner.
We’d love to hear from you in the comments about your own postpartum sex experiences and any tips you’d like to share that helped you.