Can You Have Sex After Giving Birth?

Regardless of whether you had a vaginal or cesarean section birth, you should avoid any form of penetrative sexual intimacy until your healthcare provider gives the okay. This includes masturbation and oral sex.

Most providers recommend waiting six weeks, but this is only a recommendation. You and your partner should listen to your body and wait until you feel physically and emotionally ready.

Your Body is Healing

Pregnancy and delivery change a lot about your body, including the vaginal area. It can take some time for the tissue to recover. Hormonal changes can also cause your cervix to shrink or become sensitive. You may also have lower oestrogen levels until your periods restart after childbirth, which can affect your sexual interest and arousal. If your sex is painful (a condition known as dyspareunia), it could be because of this or because of the reduced lubrication that often comes with breastfeeding.

If you had a Cesarean section delivery, your doctor will likely advise you to wait until your incision heals before returning to sex. It can be dangerous to get intimate too soon, especially if you are dilated and having contractions.

If your partner is patient and understanding, it’s very common for sexual interest to return 1-3 months after birth. But it’s important to remember that every woman’s experience with pregnancy, delivery and postpartum recovery is different. Be sure to talk openly with your partner about what you want and need in your relationship. If intimacy becomes difficult, try to find ways to connect with each other in other ways – such as sharing a massage or exploring oral or mutual masturbation. This will help remind you that you’re still more than just parents. You may also want to consider using a lubricant or personal lubrication to help with pleasure and reduce pain during penetration.

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You’re Emotionally Ready

It’s not uncommon to feel less-than-excited about sex in the weeks or even months after your baby is born. It’s usually because you’re exhausted, sleep deprived, and dealing with hormone changes that can affect your libido.

It may also be because the pain and discomfort from sex after pregnancy can put you off — especially if you had a vaginal delivery or an episiotomy. It’s important to remember that your partner cares about you and wants you to be happy. Don’t be afraid to tell them if you’re not ready for sexual activity or if you have any other concerns, like a feeling that penetration hurts. If they are patient, most new mamas find that their interest in sex returns as their body heals.

Your caregiver will likely recommend that you wait until after your six-week postpartum visit before engaging in any sexual activities that involve penetration. That’s because they’ll want to see how well your incision (if you had a C-section) is healing and if you have any issues, such as a perineal tear or episiotomy, that need to be addressed. They’ll also check your blood pressure, listen to your uterus and vagina, and determine whether your cervix is closed. (A closed cervix can increase your risk of a postpartum hemorrhage or uterine infection.) This is a good time to discuss your preferred method of contraception, too.

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You’re Physically Ready

Whether you had a vaginal or cesarean birth, it can take time for your body to heal. Getting sex too soon can cause problems like tearing or scarring and may also lead to infections. Waiting six weeks will give you a chance to heal, and it will also allow you and your partner to have a more enjoyable experience.

In the weeks following childbirth, it’s normal to have regular bleeding as your uterus continues to heal. It’s important that you wait until you’re completely healed before having sex, as even light penetration can irritate your cervix and cause bleeding.

If you had a c-section, it’s particularly important that you wait until you’re completely healing before having sex. Because your cervix is dilated, bacteria can travel from the vagina into your uterus and cause infection. This can happen even when you’re not having sex and is why many c-section moms avoid sex for awhile after delivery.

Ultimately, the decision to have sex is up to you and your partner. It’s best to wait until you’re physically ready, but it’s okay to move faster if your body and emotions feel ready. Just make sure that you talk to your doctor about your concerns and plan for contraception until your period returns. Until then, you and your partner can enjoy non-penetrative forms of intimacy such as kissing, cuddling, and touching.

You’re Sexually Ready

In a new mom group I facilitate, the topic of postpartum sex can be nerve-wracking for some women. After all, your body just went through a major surgery and you’re sleep deprived. In reality, however, you’re probably more ready than you think.

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Often, the first time penetrative vaginal sex after birth is uncomfortable or even painful for some women. This is due to a combination of factors, including tissue trauma, hormonal changes and breastfeeding (which suppresses ovulation). Adding lubrication can help reduce the discomfort. It’s also important to remember that if penetration hurts, you should say something.

Women who deliver via cesarean section should not rush into sexual activity too soon either. The cervix may still be dilated, making it more susceptible to infection and increasing the risk of complications such as pelvic inflammatory disease.

While sex may not feel like it did before you had a baby, most women who resume it find that their interest and desire return over time. Your partner may need some encouragement to help you reestablish intimacy, and you might need to try out different techniques or positions. With patience and open communication, it’s likely that you’ll find a happy medium to enjoy your intimate connection once again. And who knows – with time, it might even become more pleasurable than before!

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