The first few weeks after giving birth is probably the most challenging time for new or seasoned moms. You’re still figuring out your routine, almost every minute is spent attending to your baby, and sleep has become a rare luxury.
Sex and intimacy might be the last thing on your mind at this phase — and that’s okay! It takes time for your body to recover, whether you had a C-section or normal delivery. And with all the attention focused on your little one, getting intimate with your partner can be difficult.
But once you’re ready, here are a few things you need to know about having sex after childbirth.
How soon can I have sex?
Your body has gone through a rollercoaster ride of changes. So, it also needs time to recover.
There’s no definite timeline or required waiting period before you can have sex again. However, many doctors recommend waiting four to six weeks after giving birth, regardless of delivery method.
Once your doctor has given you clearance to resume sexual activities, bear in mind that there are also other factors to consider aside from physical recovery.
You’re also adjusting to a new family member, a disrupted sleep routine, and a change in daily activities. So, don’t rush into slipping back under the sheets with your partner.
How does childbirth affect sex?
Sex after childbirth will feel different during the first three months. There are some initial challenges, but it will definitely get better as your post-pregnancy months increase.
Every woman’s experience may be different, so there’s no one way to describe how sex after delivery would feel. But the most common issues with sex are:
- Vaginal dryness
- Low sexual desire
- Temporary loss of elasticity in vaginal tissue
- perineal tear or episiotomy
How can I ease back into sex?
You can still have a fulfilling sex life post-pregnancy. But even if you’ve got your doctor’s go signal and decided that you’re ready to have some fun with your partner, you should take things slow and not rush into what you used to do — or else your recovery may take longer.
Here are some tips to make sex more comfortable:
- Increase foreplay. Your vagina will need more time and stimulation to produce its own lubrication.
- Use lubricant. They come in handy when you’re dealing with vaginal dryness as your hormones are still adjusting. Go for water-based lubricants such as EZ Lubricating Jelly. They’re safe for sensitive skin and for using condoms.
- Do Kegel exercises. These simple exercises increase blood flow and help the pelvic floor muscles recover their strength and stability faster.
- Assume the position. Some positions you used to enjoy before delivery might not feel good now. Take time to find positions that are comfortable for you.
- Talk to your partner. Postpartum sex will be different, but it won’t be bad. It can still be fun and exciting, but you and your partner should openly talk about what feels good and what doesn’t. Remember, sex should always be pleasurable and enjoyable for both of you. You shouldn’t have to deal with unnecessary pain.
How soon can I get pregnant?
You can actually get pregnant earlier than you might have thought of. A study found that women who don’t breastfeed had their first ovulation at about their sixth week after delivery — some even ovulated earlier.
The hormonal benefits of breastfeeding may act as a “natural” contraceptive (also known as lactation amenorrhea method) for women who are less than six months postpartum, still exclusively breastfeeding their baby, and haven’t menstruated yet.
However, only 1 out of 4 women are able to use LAM properly. That means that you may still have a high chance of getting pregnant even if you’re breastfeeding.
Use postpartum contraception
If you’d like to have sex after pregnancy but not ready for another baby, it’s best to use a reliable contraceptive method.
Some of the options recommended for breastfeeding women are condoms, progestin-only pills, and postpartum IUD. Ask your doctor for advice if you’re considering getting a postpartum contraceptive.
Mind the spacing
Getting pregnant again too soon after a pregnancy can increase the risk for complications such as birth defects and premature birth. Research suggests having a gap of at least 18 to 24 months but less than five years after a live birth before trying for another pregnancy.
If you’re thinking of having another baby, talk to your doctor so they can give recommendations according to your health history.