Sex after delivery: Let's talk about it
Dads, we haven't forgotten you either - there's a very special message for you too in this article, just keep reading.
So, the baby is finally out, your doctor has given you the green light to have sex again and your partner can’t help grinning from ear to ear in anticipation.
But sex after delivery, or post-partum sex, is probably the last thing on many mums’ minds, at least for some time. However, it’s a topic you’ll have to address eventually, and honestly, it does happen and soon you’ll be back in full swing.
If you are currently heavily pregnant or have just had your baby, arm yourself with the information in this article to ease yourself back into sex as smoothly as possible.
And dads, please read till the very end — there’s an extra-special note for you.
When is it safe to have sex after having a baby?
Regardless of whether you give birth vaginally or by C-section, your body needs time to heal.
Your cervix needs to close, any lacerations need to heal and postpartum bleeding (lochia) should stop. It’s especially important to wait until postpartum bleeding stops to allow the wound left in your womb by your placenta coming out to heal completely.
According to medical experts, having sex before the bleeding stops involves the risk of infection. Most health practitioners recommend that you wait four to six weeks after birth before having sex again.
But more important than this medically recommended timeline is your own.
Some women will feel ready to resume sex within a few weeks after giving birth; other may take much longer — even months. What’s important is that you listen to your body about when the time is right.
It may hurt… but go slow
You may find that hormonal changes leave your vagina dry and tender, especially if you are breastfeeding. Also, if you are healing from an episiotomy or tears, you might experience some pain.
Taking it slow, as suggested by Mayo Clinic, is the best way to help ease pain the first few times you have sex after having your baby. Start with lots of foreplay — cuddling, kissing and massage. Gradually build up in intensity.
If you are experiencing vaginal dryness, use a lubricant. Most importantly, don’t put pressure on yourself to perform like you did prior to getting pregnant.
If sex is really painful or uncomfortable, go for alternatives like oral sex until you are totally healed. You should also tell your partner what feels good and what doesn’t, and also tell him to stop if needed.
Before, during and after
You may think prepping for sex after delivery is a bit silly — after all, sex is what gave you that adorable little angel in the first place, so you must know what you’re doing!
But pre- and post-baby sex can be quite different, and the latter can be a whole new experience for some — it’s safe to say it’s a first-time experience of a different kind.
In order to re-ignite that flame, a bit of pain-relieving preparation can certainly help. Try taking a warm bath or emptying your bladder beforehand.
During sex, try to keep your mind on both of you, and not the baby, your chores or other household matter.
Afterwards, if you experience a burning sensation down there, have an ice pack handy to relieve the pain.
If sex continues to be painful, it’s best to consult your doctor or gynaecologist.
So you really don’t feel like having sex…
And this is perfectly okay so please don’t feel bad about it. Many women just don’t get their libido back for weeks or even months after having a baby and this is quite normal.
You’re tired and exhausted and when you go to bed, you just want to sleep rather than burn up more calories. Then, just the act of being a mum can leave you feeling overwhelmed, anxious and stressed. Moreover, if you are breastfeeding, the hormone prolactin which you release can actually interfere with your desire to have sex too.
Another turn-off is the baby blues, which should go away on its own. And if you’re struggling with post-natal depression, then sex will be the last thing on your mind — in this case, you should see a doctor without delay.
Then, you may still be feeling sore from having stitches, a tear or an epistemology during birth — all these could be major turn-offs for sex, and you should let yourself heal completely before having sex again.
If you had a C-section, your scar should have healed by the time the stitches come out. But, if you are still feeling tenderness in the area, find positions that don’t put too much pressure on your tummy area. Try placing a small, soft cushion between your tummy and your partner.
Will sex feel different?
It may, at least temporarily, because if you have had a normal birth, “decreased muscle tone in the vagina might reduce pleasurable friction during sex — which can influence arousal”, according to Mayo Clinic.
Doing Kegel exercises is the best way to tone and strengthen your pelvic muscles. All you need to do is tighten your pelvic muscles like you are trying to stop peeing. Aim to keep the muscles contracted for 10 seconds at a time, relaxing for 10 seconds between ‘squeezes’.
Try to do at least three sets of Kegels through your day.
Postpartum sex positions
This is a good position to test your level of pain or comfort while having sex for the first time after baby. But pelvic floor physiotherapist Julia Di Paolo cautions that C-section mums should probably avoid this position as it can put pressure on the stitches.
Also, hubby’s weight may put too much pressure on the clitoris and/or perineum, which may cause discomfort.
This position is great for C-section mums as it protects your tummy during sex.
Woman on top
Since you get the control the entry speed and level of penetration, this is a good ‘first time’ position, as it also puts less physical pressure on your body.
This position involving a slight variation of the doggy style, is another good one for C-section mums. Just stack a pile of soft pillows as support, and for comfort, under your tummy.
This is a great position for keeping pressure off the top half of your body. Just scoot the bottom half of your body all the way to the edge of your bed. This way, your partner can stand or kneel while avoiding putting pressure on your body.
A special word to the hubbies
Yes, you might be yearning to re-connect with your beautiful wife more than ever now. But when you’re having sex with her for the first time after she has your baby, please remember these things.
She’s very, very tired most of the time. Do your best to relax her and soothe her mind — weave this into foreplay. Give her a gentle massage — her shoulders and arms are especially weary from carrying and cuddling your little one.
Remember she is probably still quite sore down there if she has had a normal birth, and dry as well. Be extra gentle with her. Ask her if she’s okay, if it hurts, if it feels good and what you can do to make her feel good.
Keep in mind that she may be struggling with body image issues and might be self-conscious about her new body. You might not even notice her stretchmarks and tummy, but to her they might be painfully obvious. She might even think that you don’t find her attractive any more.
Do your best to reassure her that you love her as she is now, as much and more than you did before she had the baby.
If she has had a C-section, be mindful of her scar. If she is anxious, know that the area around her cut on her tummy will tense up too, causing her discomfort. This is another reason why you need to help her relax.
Don’t put pressure on her tummy — use soft pillows to cushion her tummy from your weight and try out positions that don’t involve your full body weight on her.
And if she is breastfeeding, stay away from those beautifully full breasts. Yes she may look like a lingerie model, but her breasts are sensitive and may even be painful if you touch them. Resistance, dear hubby, in this case, will serve you well.
Finally, please understand if she puts off having sex for some time. It may be weeks, it may be months. This doesn’t mean you have lost your wife, it just means your child has gained a mother who will be physically back with you as soon as she is ready.
Emotionally, she is with you — always has been, always will be.
We hope you enjoyed reading this article. When did you have sex again after having your baby? What was the experience like? Do share — just leave a comment below.