Sexual Intercourse After Giving Birth
Resuming sexual relations with your partner after childbirth can be a very exciting or daunting prospect. All women are different, some are ready to have sex soon after the birth and others don't feel the desire for a long time.
It is important that you listen to your body and communicate with your partner about your feelings.
How long should I wait to have sex after childbirth?
You can resume sexual intercourse whenever you feel emotionally and physically ready. Many practitioners recommend waiting 6 weeks, until you have had your postpartum check up. At this time the doctor will check to see how you are healing, particularly if you have had an episiotomy.
Some women find that they are physically ready to have sex with their partners, but they are experiencing anxiety, mixed emotions and/or a decrease in sexual desire.
Reasons for decreased sexual desire after childbirth:
Fatigue - Exhaustion is a major factor in decreased libido. Being up with the baby at all hours can leaving you feeling too tired for sex.
Hormones - Hormone levels drop after childbirth, leading to decreased sexual desire. This is particularly true for breastfeeding mothers.
Body image - After giving birth many women take time to adjust to their 'new body'. Sometimes women feel their body confidence is affected while they adjust to the changes.
Anxiety - Many women are fearful that sex will be painful after childbirth. The perineum can feel sore, even after six weeks, and some women experience vaginal dryness.
Fear of getting pregnant - women can feel nervous about getting pregnant so soon after giving birth. Conception in the postpartum period is unlikely if exclusively breastfeeding, but it is strongly recommended to use contraception if another pregnancy isn't desired.
When you feel comfortable to have sex again postpartum:
There are many things you and your partner can do to help. If intercourse causes you pain, you may want to wait longer, or you can find different sexual practices to enjoy with your partner other than love making.
Try to make some private time for you and your partner. Wait until the baby is asleep, or ask family or friends to help with babysitting.
If you are suffering from vaginal dryness, you can use a water-based vaginal lubricant.
If you are suffering from persistent pain that prevents or ruins the pleasure of intercourse, discuss it with your doctor.
The postpartum period is a good time for couples to explore being close to one another. It's important that you communicate any concerns you have with your partner and only resume having sex when you both feel ready.