There’s a lot of information about sex, and there’s a lot of information about life after having a baby, but there are some things about having sex once you’ve had a baby that aren’t so well known. So when the doctor gives you the green light to have sex after childbirth, will it be the same?
After the baby is born, how soon can I have sex?
Whether you give birth vaginally or by C-section, your body will need time to heal. Many health care providers recommend waiting four to six weeks before having sex. This allows time for the cervix to close, postpartum bleeding to stop, and any tears or repaired lacerations to heal. The other important timeline is your own. Some women feel ready to resume sex within a few weeks of giving birth, while others need a few months — or even longer. Factors such as fatigue, stress and fear of pain all can take a toll on your sex drive.
Why don’t I feel like having sex after the birth?
It’s very common not to feel like having sex in the first few weeks or months after having a baby. For a start, you’re probably feeling exhausted due to lack of sleep, not to mention overwhelmed by the demands of being a mum. If you are breastfeeding, the hormone prolactin can reduce your desire to have sex, too. Feeling low, or suffering from postnatal depression, will make you feel less like having sex. Talk to your GP, midwife or health visitor if you think this is a problem for you.
If you had a caesarean, the scar should have healed by the time your stitches come out. If it still feels sensitive, you and your partner could try to find positions that don’t put pressure on the scar. Starting with foreplay will help to reduce any fear you may have of your scar being painful. Many women worry that their partner won’t find them attractive any more, but when they explain their concerns, realise that this is far from being the case.
When will I feel like having sex after the birth?
Everyone is different. There’s no norm, or set time, when you should aim to have sex by. The most important thing is to wait until you are physically and emotionally ready.
A small number of couples start having sex within the first month after the birth, but about half wait until at least six weeks, as do most women who have had a tear or episiotomy. By three months, most couples have tried sex again, though some couples prefer to wait until after six months.
If you both feel ready to have sex before your postnatal check at about six weeks after the birth, you can go ahead if you want to. Some health professionals suggest trying sex with your partner before your postnatal check, if you both feel ready, so they can address any problems at your appointment.
You’ll need to consider contraception when you do start to have sex again. Even if you are still breastfeeding and your periods haven’t returned, you may still get pregnant again.
If you’re not yet ready to have sex, continue with kissing and touching and being physically close to each other. Try to do this, even if it seems a lot of effort when you’re tired and preoccupied with your new baby. Returning to sex will then feel less daunting and more like a natural progression.
What if I’m not interested in sex?
That’s OK. There’s more to an intimate relationship than sex, especially when you’re adjusting to life with a new baby. If you’re not feeling sexy or you’re afraid sex will hurt, share your concerns with your partner.
Until you’re ready to have sex, maintain intimacy in other ways. Spend time together without the baby, even if it’s just a few minutes in the morning and after the baby goes to sleep at night. Share short phone calls or send text messages throughout the day. Look for other ways to express affection. Rekindle the spark that brought you together in the first place.
If communicating with your partner doesn’t help, be alert for signs and symptoms of postpartum depression — such as intense irritability and anger, overwhelming fatigue, lack of joy in life, and difficulty bonding with the baby. If you think you might be experiencing postpartum depression, contact your health care provider. Prompt treatment can speed recovery.