Return To Main Guides
The Female Body
|When Is It Safe To Have Sex After Childbirth?
Most doctors recommend waiting 4 to 6 weeks before having vaginal intercourse so that your body has time to heal itself after childbirth. In any case you should wait until lochia (where the lining of the uterus is shed over 3 to 6 weeks in the form of vaginal bleeding) has finished and any tears in the vagina have healed. One online study revealed that 7 percent of new moms had sex at 4 weeks, 50 percent at 8 weeks, 36 percent at 12 weeks and the remainder needed 6 months or more to recover. You will know when the time is right for you. Every woman is different - just like your childbirth experience was different to anyone else - so will the rate be at which you are ready to resume sexual activity.
What Are The Dangers Of Starting Before Week 6?
Doctors recommend waiting to have sex until your week 6 postpartum checkup. This allows adequate time for your reproductive organs to heal after the ordeal of pregnancy and childbirth. However, if you have no vaginal tearing or episiotomy, and your bleeding (lochia) has changed from bright red to watery pink and is scant in amount, it is probably ok for you to have sex as soon as 2 weeks postpartum. Waiting an additional week would be advisable however to allow healing and closure of the cervix (while the cervix is open you are more prone to internal infections).
Postpartum Sex Drive
The desire for sex after having a baby varies greatly from woman to woman. Some may find the experience of childbearing sensual and feel aroused by their partner almost immediately after birth. Others, plagued by postpartum complications like vaginal pain, postpartum bleeding or the physical demands of a young baby, have little interest for months. Whatever you feel is normal. In most instances, lack of sleep, hormonal mood swings and altered body image will interfere with libido levels. Lowered estrogen levels (particularly while breastfeeding) can dry out vaginal tissues (vaginal atrophy) and make intercourse painful. Here, an understanding and gentle partner can make all the difference in addition to the use of lubricants. Postpartum exercises like Kegels may also help speed up recovery and improve sensations.
5 Tips For Improving Postpartum Libido
1. Other types of intimacy
If you are not ready for vaginal intercourse, you may choose to temporarily practice other forms of sexual intimacy. This may simply mean cuddling, kissing, holding hands, showering and doing things together to feel intimate. Both partners should be receptive to the idea of doing things together without the ultimate goal being penetration. Massage and gentle touching (with the rule nothing is to be inserted into the vagina including fingers) are other options. It is still safe and possible to have an orgasm without penetration.
2. Quality not quantity
Remember, you don't need to have intercourse every night, nor even every week. Ease yourself back into a normal routine gradually.
3. Talk about your fears
Many women put off sexual intercourse after having a baby because of pain, or because they fear pain. The time it takes for perineal pain (pain which occurs between the vagina and anus) to disappear largely depends on the birthing experience. Women who needed the assistance of a forceps or have vaginal tears take longer to feel comfortable. Interestingly, an episiotomy does not appear to make a difference. If you are still in pain, avoid penetrative sex until you feel better. If you fear pain, discuss your fears with your partner and work on the issue together. Ultimately, try not to lose your sense of humor over it. Laughing about an issue is a great bonding experience.
4. Coping with fatigue
All new mothers know that the first weeks and months after having a baby are exhausting. Tiredness is one of the most common reasons for lack of interest in sex. The sooner a schedule can be organized in the household that takes into account all the new necessary changes, the better. Routine is the best cure for fatigue.
5. Say no
Never be afraid to say no, even if your husband looks disappointed. It is your body and you understand it better than anyone.
Birth Control After Having A Baby
If you do not wish to become pregnant in the immediate future you will need to take contraceptive precautions as soon as you become sexually active again. Breastfeeding is not considered a reliable method of birth control. As some contraceptive pills can affect breastfeeding milk supply, you may need to consider other non-hormonal alternatives like condoms or contraceptive diaphragms until weaning. If a nursing mom wants the convenience and certainty of hormonal method of birth control, the second choice is progestin only methods, such as birth control implants, the mini-pill or birth control injections (Depo-Provera). IUD devices are also effective but there is a risk of uterine perforation if inserted before week 6 postpartum.
When Did You Start Having Sex Again?
We started having sex about 7 weeks after having our baby but it was a struggle physically and emotionally. I had absolutely zero interest but felt I had to keep hubby happy. It took another 3 months before I started to enjoy it again.
After I had my daughter my husband and I had sex 4 weeks later. I asked my midwife if it was safe before 6 weeks and she said there was no medical reason not to. If I felt ready, then it was fine to do so. I needed to use a lubricant for the first few times as my natural juices weren't up to it. Other than that, it was fine.
After my first child I started having sex at 2 weeks. For the next two kids I waited until week 3. My doctor said it was up to me and that my body would let me know when I was ready. I didn't experience any pain, if I did, I would have stopped.
We waited about 3 months before trying. It was a no-go area for me. I was still getting used to having a baby, all the sleepless nights, wanting to nurse and so sex just wasn't a priority for me. In fact, hubby wasn't too interested either after seeing what that area 'down there' went through. When we finally did it, it still hurt a bit - even after 3 months. I had torn during the delivery, bad enough not to be able to walk that day, but not really severe. We got back to normal by about month 5, with no pain. It got progressively easier each time but I relied on lubricant to get me through it.
We tried after 5 weeks but it was so painful, even with lube. I felt like I was tearing up inside. We tried again at week 8 and it was just about manageable. It really took 6 months for things to get fixed up and normal. We weren't jumping each other every day during that time, maybe just one a week.
I'm a pretty sexual person, but with my first kid I had zero interest for the first 3 months. After the next kid hubby and I were playing around within about 5 days with no problems. It just shows, hormones have to play a big role in libido.