Having sex after you give birth can feel like a pretty big deal. Not only are you coping with a flurry of emotional changes, your body probably looks and feels very different in the months following birth.
Here is what you need to know about post-baby sex.
You can get started whenever you’re ready
Technically, you can have sex after birth whenever you feel ready. That said, it’s probably a good idea to wait until the post-birth bleeding has stopped, which should take about three weeks. After that, it’s really up to you. Some couples get started within the first month, many wait until after their six-week postnatal check, and many more give themselves a few months to recover before trying to have sex again.
The most important thing is to wait until your body feels ready. Depending on the type of delivery you had, you may still be recovering from a tear or episiotomy. Or perhaps your c-section wound is still healing. Give yourself the time and space to recover.
It’s going to feel a bit different
Understandably, the biggest concern women have about post-baby sex is how it’s going to feel down there. After all, a whole baby has just emerged from your body, so there might be a bit more, ahem, wiggle room down there. And even if you had a c-section, your pelvic floor may be feeling very different after pregnancy.
Don’t panic. The changes are usually temporary. And keep in mind that your post-pregnancy hormones aren’t always helping things, with low levels of estrogen to blame for vaginal dryness and a dip in sex drive. When you do finally take the plunge, have a sense of humour and lots of lube on standby.
Your partner might be feeling worried about it too
While it might feel like the decision to have sex rests in your court, your partner is probably having some strong feelings about postpartum sex as well. Maybe they’re dying to get started. But maybe not: most men feel pretty worried about whether sex is going to make you feel uncomfortable in those early days.
Just keep talking – talk about how you’re feeling about sex, and also about the practicalities of intercourse. Like perhaps you want to take it easy around your stitches, or maybe you just can’t handle your breasts being touched while you’re breastfeeding. The boundaries will change over time, and staying in tune with each other’s comfort levels will help make that first time so much easier.
Be extra careful about contraception
Before you start having sex, make sure you talk to your GP about your contraception plan. If you’re not breastfeeding, you can choose any type of contraception. If you are breastfeeding, your options are a bit more limited, but vital nonetheless, because even if you’re breastfeeding and haven’t had your period yet, you can still get pregnant.
Recommended contraceptives for breastfeeding women include the mini pill, an Intra Uterine Device (IUD), the contraceptive implant, the Caya® diaphragm (after six weeks), or condoms. Chat to your doctor about your options.
The details count
Naturally, the first few times are going to shake out a little differently to your pre-baby lovemaking. But there are a few basic practicalities that can make the transition easier. For instance, lubrication is your best friend right now. If you’re struggling with exhaustion, you could also think about which time of the day is going to work for you. Maybe during your baby’s nap is when you’ll feel the most relaxed.
You might also want to choose your positions carefully – often the woman-on-top position can be good to start with, since you can control things and avoid any sore points. That said, full penetration doesn’t have to happen straight away. Many couples start with kissing and touching to ease themselves into sexual intimacy again.
It only gets better
You’re juggling a new baby, major physical changes, exhaustion and rollercoaster hormones, so it’s totally normal if sex is a little further down the to-do list right now. Try to take the pressure off, and don’t worry if sex looks and feels different for a while. Look after yourself, and each other, and you’ll soon find your way back to a fulfilling sex life.