For the first few weeks after your little one’s arrival, you and your partner will be completely focused on the sweet baby that has taken over your hearts and lives. Eventually, as you begin to heal and feel more like your old self, your attention will turn to one another, which will raise the question, “When can we have sex?”
The first time having sex after you have a baby may seem as scary (and exciting) as the very first time you had sex, and you will probably have similar questions: “What will it feel like?” “Will it hurt?” Learn what to expect during sex after having a baby to feel more prepared, less nervous and enjoy the experience more.
Basic Timeline for Sex After Delivery
If you had a normal, vaginal delivery without an episiotomy or any complications, your doctor may allow you to have sex again after four weeks. If you are still bleeding (passing lochia), however, it’s best to wait. Having sex while you are still bleeding increases your risk of hemorrhaging and contracting a uterine infection. So, even if you want to have sex right away (you go Mama!), waiting is the best option.
Women who had a c-section, received an episiotomy or had stitches due to a perineal tear must wait at least six weeks before having sex. The doctor will examine your incision and make sure that it has healed properly before giving you the green light to have sex.
Things You Need to Know
It May Be Uncomfortable (or Painful) the First Time
Whether you had a vaginal delivery or a c-section, it’s common to feel some pain when you have sex for the first time after having a baby. Vaginal trauma, postpartum hormones and lower levels of estrogen affect vaginal elasticity. Go slowly, stop if you are feeling too much pain and use plenty of lubrication. If you are still feeling pain after several months, talk with your doctor to determine if any medical issues are causing the pain.
You May Have Low Libido
Chances are that your partner is counting down to the day that you get the “okay” to have sex again, but you may just not be feeling it. Your hormone levels won’t return to normal until you start menstruating again. This typically happens between four and 12 weeks but could take longer if you are breastfeeding. Out-of-whack hormones, tiredness and stress all play a factor in not feeling “in the mood.”
Additionally, if you are breastfeeding, your body releases the hormone oxytocin, which triggers those extra-loving feeling you have for your little one and aids in milk being released into the milk ducts. Unfortunately, oxytocin is also responsible for suppressing libido. Think of it as Mother Nature’s way of preventing another little one making their debut too soon.
Things May Feel “Different” Than Before
Your vaginal walls stretched in order to accommodate the human that came out through them. Within days of delivery, your vagina will begin to regain muscle tone. Unfortunately, though it will tighten and regain tone, it may not return to its previous size. This depends on genetics, the number of children you’ve had and your baby’s size. These changes can make sex feel different. Doing Kegel exercises regularly can help your vagina regain its size and muscle tone.
Communication is Critical
Not feeling comfortable in your post-baby body? Not wanting to touch anyone after cuddling a crying baby all day? It’s okay. Your partner may be confused, however, so it’s important to keep open communication flowing. You may be surprised to find that your partner has some concerns and fears, too. Talking about them will help you both feel connected and ready to have sex when you’re ready.
Sex Will Be More Important than Ever
Back before your little one was born, you and your partner had all of the time in the world to watch a movie, go out on an impulsive date or have sex at your leisure. Now that your baby is here, your life won’t be your own ever again. With time, sex often becomes more pleasurable and more important to the relationship than before. Sex will connect you and your partner and help you to feel more like the couple you once were rather than roommates on diaper duty.
Breastfeeding and Sex
Because your hormone levels will be off until you stop breastfeeding, your body probably won’t naturally lubricate itself like it used to before your little one arrived. Use plenty of lubrication in order to avoid sex feeling uncomfortable.
Many women enjoy nipple stimulation as a part of intimacy, but when you are breastfeeding, it may make you (and your partner) uncomfortable. You may feel like your breasts have another purpose now that you are a human feeding machine and not want them touched anymore by your partner or your breasts may feel tender, making stimulation painful.
Having sex right after you breastfeed or pump so that your breasts are less full can help reduce any fullness you may feel and reduce your chances of letdown during nipple stimulation. Wearing a tank top or nursing bra during sex may also help. Because letdown is triggered by stimulation and orgasms, however, there is always the chance that milk could leak during sex. It happens. Having a sense of humor will help both of you as you navigate sex during breastfeeding.
Right after delivery, it was probably difficult to think of ever feeling like having sex again. As your body heals and you become more used to your new role as “Mommy,” you will feel your natural libido return. Give yourself time, communicate with your partner and try other ways (cuddling, kissing and touching) to include intimacy in your relationship as you grow closer together as new parents.