Sex after Baby - What's Normal? What's Not? - Blog

Sex after Baby - What's Normal? What's Not?

Published Date: 07/31/19

After 9 months of reduced sexual activity, it can take a while for most couples to go back to their regular sexy-time routines. Every couple is different. For some, going back to having sex like they used to before sounds like a far-fetched dream, and sometimes, it may even be a little scary, especially for the woman. For others, they simply cannot wait to get back on that horse, so to speak. This all falls within the very broad spectrum of what’s considered normal. That being said, though, doctors recommend that you give yourselves about 4 to 6 weeks after delivery before you can start having sex again.  

For many women, sex immediately after baby will largely depend on whether you had a vaginal or cesarean delivery. Ideally, if you had a vaginal delivery, you would have to give it at least four weeks to have sex, while those who had cesarean deliveries will have to wait six weeks after delivery before they can do it again. However, if there were any complications during or after delivery, for example, if you had a perineal tear or an episiotomy, your healthcare provider will advise you on when you can resume having sex after delivery.

That being said, six weeks can be quite a long time when your sex life was practically dead for 9 long months. So sometimes it is hard to wait that long. If you want to resume having sex sooner, talk to your healthcare provider about it first. It is never a good idea to get right to it without any professional go-ahead. This means that on your next weekly post-partum doctor’s visit, find out how soon you can get busy again without affecting your health and recovery.

So what’s the point of waiting at all? Well, the reasons behind it are pretty straightforward. Immediately after delivery, a woman’s body enters the healing phase. This stage involves the gradual reduction of bleeding, healing of tears, and the closing of the cervix. If you have sex too early, you risk wounding yourself, getting uterine infections, or postpartum hemorrhage. This is why no matter how “OK” and ready to go again you feel, you should heed your physician’s advice and give it 4 to 6 weeks.

couple in bed

What Is Normal?
After birth, there are several factors that determine how ready you are to have sex again. These include pain levels, fatigue, stress, sex drive, vaginal dryness, postpartum depression, and the fear of sex or pregnancy. For every woman, one or more of these factors will possibly come into play.

When you do have sex, you may realize that it feels quite different from the way it did before pregnancy, especially during the first few months after delivery. During this period, your body still has very low levels of estrogen. Therefore, you may experience vaginal dryness for the first four to six weeks, or up to 3 or 4 months if you are breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding also reduces a person’s sex drive, so it is perfectly normal not to want to have sex. The very act of breastfeeding places your body and mind in a state that tries to prevent you from getting pregnant again. It acts as a natural contraceptive by lowering your libido so you don’t want to have sex, and if you do have sex, breastfeeding lowers the chances of getting pregnant. This will be elaborated on further a little later in this text.

Another very normal experience after having a baby is pain the first few times during sex. Common reasons for this are vaginal dryness and healing vaginal walls. Additionally, if you had a perineal tear or an episiotomy, sex may also be painful for at least a few months after delivery.

You can ease this discomfort by taking some or all of these steps:
•    Lube up. This is very important especially if you are experiencing vaginal dryness.
•    Experiment with alternatives to vaginal sex if it is too painful. You can try oral sex, massages, or even mutual masturbation. Just find whatever feels good and work with it.
•    Seek pain relief beforehand. This includes emptying your bladder, taking a warm bath, or even taking an over the counter pain reliever.
•    Increase foreplay. Give your vagina time to produce its own natural lubrication.
•    You can also apply ice to the area if you experience burning afterwards. To do this, put ice in a piece of cloth and gently rest it over your vagina.
•    Only have sex when you are not too tired or anxious.
•    If sex continues to be painful, consult your doctor for treatment options

If you had a vaginal delivery, penetration may also feel different due to reduced vaginal muscle tone. You may notice that the process of penetration feels strange, and not in a good way. This is perfectly normal, and it is because for the first few weeks after delivery, your vagina still has a limited capacity for stretching, and this may affect how sex feels. This effect is however usually temporary. You can quicken the healing process by doing Kegel exercises.

Also, for those first few months immediately after delivery, as your body struggles to balance its hormones, you may have a few unusual experiences during sex. Sometimes, these experiences may kill the mood for either you or your partner. For example, your breasts may leak after an orgasm. This is a perfectly normal hormonal response. You can prevent it by pumping before sex.

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What to Do About Your Sex Drive
It is perfectly normal to have a low sex drive or to simply not be interested in sex immediately after baby. You are still adjusting to your new life with baby, so sex is probably the last thing on your mind. This is especially true if you are a new mother or if you had a particularly difficult pregnancy.

Other times, the reason for your reduced sex life could be something far more serious, such as negative postpartum body image or postpartum depression. If the reason you are not feeling up to having sex is your lack of confidence in your postpartum body or the fact that you are not feeling sexy enough after baby, talking to your partner about it can go a long way in helping you feel better about yourself.

Opening up and talking to your partner about what you are feeling, for example, if you are afraid of having sex again, if you are afraid sex will hurt, or simply just letting them know why you do not feel up to having sex again, will really help your relationship in the long run. You might be surprised at how supportive they can be. Sometimes communication is the only solution there really is.  

However, if you are showing signs of postpartum depression, such as having severe mood swings, loss of appetite, overwhelming fatigue, or a general feeling of helplessness and lack of joy, contact your healthcare provider. They will prescribe the appropriate treatment option for you, which may include therapy and medication.

Generally, though, until you are ready to have sex again, intimacy can be maintained in lots of other ways. One of the simplest of these is to simply spend time together without the baby. Alternatively, you can take some time off when the baby is asleep and just talk to each other. Just look for ways to express affection and you will realize that your sex drive will soon return to normal. Because in the end, sex is more than just the act. All the moments leading up to it also count.

Finally, do not forget to take care of yourself. When you feel good about yourself, the passion will be kept alive.

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Will You Get Pregnant?
After giving birth, it is possible to get pregnant again surprisingly quickly. For many women who are not breastfeeding, the first ovulation occurs at around 6 weeks. And cases of women ovulating even earlier than that are not that uncommon.

For breastfeeding mothers, it takes a little longer because breastfeeding acts as a natural form of birth control. In many cases, you may not be able to get pregnant for about four to six months after delivery. However, this only works for women less than six months postpartum who are exclusively breastfeeding and haven’t started menstruating.

You should, however, keep in mind that breastfeeding is not a reliable birth control method. If you want to have sex but do not want to risk another pregnancy, you need to use more reliable methods of birth control, such as barrier methods, implants, and IUDs.

Immediate contraception options include barrier options (condoms) or progestin-only contraceptives. If you would prefer to use an intrauterine method such as a copper, diaphragm, or some other fitted device, discuss it with your health care provider first.

Also, if your preferred contraceptive method contains estrogen or progesterone, and this includes most pills and vaginal rings, consult your healthcare provider first before using them.

Getting Pregnant Again
If you intend to have another child, it is a good idea to wait a while before doing so. This is because getting pregnant too quickly after a pregnancy increases the risk of premature birth and birth defects. According to health professionals, consider waiting for 12 to 18 months after giving birth to get pregnant again. This is why you need to be careful and to take all the recommended precautions to prevent yourself from getting pregnant too soon.

However, if for some reason you really want to have another child sooner than that, consult your health care professional first. They are the ones who are in the best position to understand your health history and advice you accordingly. 

Facts no one will tell you about sex after baby
1.    It may not feel good at first. Besides the physical trauma, your body’s hormones are also still readjusting. So keep a glass of wine handy, and bring lots of humor along because it will probably be nothing like you are used to. Also, do not forget that lube is your new best friend.
2.    For several months immediately after birth, you may have a very low libido. This is natural and completely normal. It is your body’s way of trying to prevent another pregnancy too soon.
3.    There may be a little more wiggle room down there. Things may not be as tight as they used to be before baby came. It may almost feel like your partner’s penis has shrunk a little. Again, this is completely normal, and everything will be nice and tight again soon. You can hasten this process by doing Kegel exercises.
4.    Once you have a baby, sex becomes even more important. Living like roommates is rarely a good thing because it leaves room for resentment and feeling disconnected. Having sex bridges that gap, puts everyone in a better mood, and makes the two of you feel closer to each other.
5.    After baby, there’s rarely ever enough time for you to cuddle together in bed and make love the whole night. So be spontaneous and take what you can get. Do it in the bathroom, the walk-in closet, the kitchen, or even the hallway. It will add to the excitement and make it even more interesting.
6.    You do not have to do it at night. Make your baby’s nap time your playtime.
7.    Having sex after the first child is harder than after the second child. As a new mom, readjusting to your new role may take a significant toll on your sex life. However, once your body gets in line, things get a lot easier. And the best part is that with every subsequent child, it gets easier.
8.    This may surprise you, but sex after having a baby is usually better than ever. You feel more, and you get to have more intense orgasms.

Final Thoughts
Pregnancy and childbirth bring with them a lot of physical changes. These changes can affect, among other things, your sex life. Most doctors recommend waiting about 4 to 6 weeks before resuming sexual intercourse after delivery. This time will allow your body to heal from the pressures of pregnancy and childbirth. However, the decision to resume having sex is a very personal one, so every couple must communicate first and address each other’s concerns.

If sex after baby is painful or uncomfortable for you, let your partner know. There are several things you can do to make it better, but the most important thing is to just ease into it. Do not rush things, and if you have to take a lot more than six weeks to be ready for it, by all means, please do. Because when it’s all said and done, sex should be fun and pleasurable for both partners.

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