Welcome to the exciting world of parenthood new mummies and daddies!
Are you enjoying the sleepless nights, dirty diapers, and the responsibility of taking care of another tiny human being? Perhaps getting frisky with your partner is the last thing on your mind. Or perhaps you are ready to be intimate again.
But before you have sex after a baby for the first time, there are some things that you should know.
Sex Life After Baby
Sex and intimacy are often tough for new parents – less time, tiredness, hormonal changes and worries about contraception can make it tricky.
If you and your partner have both gone a bit cool on sex, it’s no problem. But if you and your partner have different levels of sexual desire, this can add some stress to your relationship.
You could believe that you won’t ever have sex again after having birth. But once you’ve recovered, you’ll want to have sex again. It’s typical for this to take longer than three months, but for most women, it happens within that time frame.
When nursing their child, some mothers report feeling sensuous and erotic. The hormone oxytocin, which is involved in milk let-down and sexual stimulation, is partially to blame for this. It’s entirely typical.
It’s also typical for breastfeeding mothers to discover that they are less interested in having sex while nursing.
Your body will be different
Image Source: iStock
This is inevitable. Think about it,-: you carried a baby inside of you for nine long months and your body has gone through one of the biggest changes of your life. Of course, your body will never be what it once was; and even if you do get your pre-baby body back, it will take some time to get there.
Your breasts will feel sore and tender and after nursing your baby for the whole day, they might not feel very sexy to you. But it will help if you breastfeed or pump before having intercourse, so they won’t be so full and heavy, and it will prevent any surprising milk let-downs.
If you had a natural birth, your vagina will be stretched out at first, but after a few days it will shrink back and start to gain some muscle tone—doing some Kegel exercises may help get it back to its original size and tautness.
You may not experience sex the same way as before
In the first 4-6 weeks postpartum, you will probably have less natural vaginal lubrication due to your decreased level of estrogen, so the dryness might make sex a little painful. Remember to take things slow, don’t skip out on the foreplay, and do consider using a lubricating cream or gel to help things along.
You should try different positions and experiment to find out what works for you because your body is different now and what felt good for you may not hit the spot anymore. Just have fun and enjoy exploring new things with you partner – you might surprise him and yourself!
Why Is Sex Painful After Having A Baby?
Sex will feel different after delivery. A small study from 2005 indicated that 83 per cent of females had sexual issues in the first three months following their first delivery.
However, as the months following a pregnancy lengthen, that number keeps decreasing.
The most typical problems with postpartum sex include:
- Vaginal dryness
- flimsy genital tissue
- Loss of flexibility in the tissue of the vagina
- an episiotomy or perineal tear
- loose muscles
- lowered libido
Hormones are crucial for postpartum healing and resuming regular sexual activity.
Estrogen levels return to pre-pregnancy levels in the days immediately following childbirth. Estrogen levels may fall below pre-pregnancy levels if nursing. Low estrogen levels increase the incidence of vaginal dryness since the hormone contributes to natural vaginal lubrication. During intercourse, dry tissue can cause irritation and even bleeding.
The muscles of the vaginal canal may momentarily swell during vaginal birth. Time is required for these muscles to regain their strength and stability.
You could need more time to heal if you underwent a vaginal birth with a perineal tear or episiotomy. Your chance of contracting an infection rises if you have intercourse too soon.
Vaginal feeling can also be impacted by caesarean delivery. The same hormonal problems can weaken and dry up the vaginal tissues, which may result in uncomfortable intercourse.
You’ll also be healing from abdominal surgery, so you’ll want to wait until the incision site is fully healed before engaging in sexual activity.
When Can I Have Sex After Having A Baby?
Your body and sex life change significantly throughout pregnancy and childbirth.
Vaginal tissue may become thinner and more sensitive due to hormonal changes during delivery. Additionally, your cervix, uterus, and vagina must “return” to their original sizes. Additionally, nursing might reduce libido.
Simply said, your body requires some rest after giving birth.
There is no set period of time after giving birth that you must wait before engaging in sexual activity. The majority of medical professionals advise women to hold off for four to six weeks after a vaginal delivery.
Even when your doctor gives the go-ahead for you to begin sexual activity, you might need to proceed cautiously. Remember: You’ll need to adjust to a new family member, getting by on less sleep, and a shift in your usual schedule in addition to your physical recuperation.
If you have a perineal tear or an episiotomy, you could also have to wait longer. A surgical procedure to expand the vaginal canal is called an episiotomy. Returning to sex too soon can put you at risk for issues including uterine infection and postpartum haemorrhage.
Know when your body is ready
Most doctors recommend waiting at least 6 weeks after giving birth to have sex after baby.
Most mothers who had natural deliveries are advised to wait until 6 weeks after giving birth to allow enough time to properly heal.
Those who had a C-section, episiotomy, tears, stitches, or other procedures might have to give it a few extra weeks more since there may still be some discomfort. The perineal area may also still be feeling slightly sore and sensitive, so just listen to your own body and give it a few more days or weeks before you plan your big romantic date night.
Emotional readiness may take time
After having a baby, your hormones will still be out of sync until you start menstruating again, so this may affect your libido. Generally, your period should return around 4–12 weeks postpartum; but if you are breastfeeding, the delay may be much longer.
Also if you are feeling exhausted due to lack of sleep, uncomfortable with your post-baby body, and just generally overwhelmed while trying to adjust to motherhood, you just might not feel like being intimate anytime soon.
It is not uncommon to feel this way, so don’t be too hard on yourself and just remember that you are allowed to take some time to heal physically and emotionally.
Low Sex Drive After Birth Is Common
Even if a woman is medically fit to engage in sexual activity again without discomfort or risk of harm and has been given the all-clear by her obstetrician or midwife, there are many other factors that could play a role in her decision, including her desire to engage in sex.
The following factors can affect sex drive in the postpartum period:
- Changes in hormones, especially if you’re breastfeeding
- Tiredness/lack of sleep
- Depression following childbirth
- Pain in the vulvar and vaginal area brought on by tears during childbirth and low vaginal oestrogen levels
- Breastfeeding and the discrepancy between using one’s breasts for sensual purposes versus feeding a baby
- The quality of a woman’s marriage to her partner
- Postnatal trauma
Don’t rush yourself into anything you are not ready for and give yourself some time to heal.
How To Get Sex Drive Back After Baby?
Honesty, acceptance of oneself, and communication are necessary while dealing with reduced sex drive during pregnancy. Your partner will be able to understand the impact hormones are having on your body if you are honest about how you’re feeling and what you’re going through, both physically and mentally.
Try to communicate your feelings and reassure your partner of your love if you see yourself becoming less physically affectionate than usual. As you experience these changes together, keeping lines of communication open will enable you to support one another as best you can.
Intimacy is crucial even if sex isn’t currently on the agenda. There are various ways to show your love even if you are unable to engage in sexual activity or if you are turned on but do not enjoy penetration:
- Make date nights a priority
- Massage each other.
- Shower together.
- Engage in and enjoy oral sex.
- Masturbate (on your own or with your partner)
Getting in the mood
Image Source: iStock
Having a healthy sexual relationship with your partner post-delivery is not impossible, but it might prove to be a little more tricky than before and will probably require a bit more planning.
First and foremost, you should take care of yourself, eat a healthy diet, drink plenty of fluids, and get lots of rest. Taking care of a newborn is not easy, so don’t be shy to ask for help if you need it; it’s good to join a support group for new mums as well.
It may not sound too romantic, but sometimes it might help to actually schedule your love-making sessions and work it around your little one’s naptimes.
If you’re still uncertain about going all the way and feel worried about the pain, then go slow and talk to your partner about this. You can explore other forms of intimacy before having full penetration once again, such as cuddling, kissing, massaging, and manual stimulation.
There Are Different Ways To Increase Sex Drive
You could also attempt to focus on improving your relationship rather than experiencing sexual frustration. You can make your relationship stronger by carrying out the following:
- Sharing your feelings with one another to better comprehend what the other is going through.
- Having patience with one another since, despite how challenging these transitions may be, this phase of your relationship won’t endure forever.
- Having quality time as a pair; for instance, you can sleep in, take day trips, or explore new restaurants that you won’t have time for after the kid is born.
- Deeds of compassion, such as picking up the other person’s dry cleaning or escorting them to the train station.
- Touch that conveys affection, such as kissing and hugging.
- Positive affirmations: praising your lover and expressing your affection for them.
- Giving gifts that aren’t just for birthdays, such as cards and tokens that say, “I saw this and thought of you.”
These approaches could be successful as well:
- Look after your physical well-being.
Try to exercise and eat healthy whenever you can. Additionally, these two items can boost confidence and vigour.
- Get plenty of sleep
Try to obtain a full eight hours of sleep each night. Over time, getting little sleep builds up and might make desiring or even having sex difficult.
- Play around with different sex positions.
Don’t let your sexual life or your self-consciousness be affected by how big your stomach is. Instead, focus on what is physically pleasant for you. Try several sex positions that are safe for pregnant women, such as side-by-side and woman on top (so that there is no added pressure on the abdomen).
Remember To Take Precautions
Although some women feel that they are ready to engage in sexual activities again shortly after giving birth and before the usual 6-week healing period, know that you should still wait for 2 weeks post-delivery before having full penetration sex, as there may still be a risk of infection, or aggravating any wounds that may not have completely healed.
If there is any pain which persists after having intercourse, tell your doctor about it.
Also, oral sex done on you (or cunnilingus) should be put off during the first few months as it could introduce infection into the vagina and uterus.
If you experience any burning sensation after sex, you can apply some ice wrapped in a small towel to the area to ease the pain. But if the pain persists and sexual intercourse continues to be painful, bring this up with your health care provider.
Remember to use birth control, even if breastfeeding, because it is still possible to get pregnant.
Contrary to what some may think, it is still possible to get pregnant again shortly after giving birth even if you are breastfeeding.
So if you are not planning on expanding your new little family any time soon, it is best to consult your health care provider about different methods of birth control available. It is also important to note that some research recommends you to wait at least 18–24 months before trying to conceive again to reduce risks of pregnancy complications.
Breastfeeding mums can consider the mini-pill (or progesterone-only pill) as a form for contraceptive. It might also be useful to discover some interesting facts about birth control before you start.
Daddies, please take note!
Your partner needs your help and support, so please give her some time before she is ready.
Remember that your partner needs time to recover and she is going through a lot right now, so she needs your support more than ever. If she’s not in the mood or is lacking confidence about her new body, please be patient and try to make her feel loved in other ways.
Compliment her, reassure her that she is still desirable, help her out as much as you can with the baby, give her some time off to get herself together, and surprise her with a gift or a relaxing massage.
Most of all, learn to communicate with her so that you’re both on the same page and understand what the other is feeling. If you can connect with her emotionally, only then will she be able to connect with you physically.
To learn more about postpartum sex, join us on 24th August, 7:30 PM in this educational “Intimate“ webinar on Sexual Health After Birth
Updates by Matt Doctor
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