Neither you or your partner should have any expectations of what sex should be after birth. Just like pregnancy, labor, and delivery, all our journeys are, and will continue to be, very different. Some women slide back into having sex very easily, and for others the experience can be a bit more difficult. The distinctions not only vary from person to person, but with each subsequent pregnancy for a single individual. Whoever you are, and whatever course life has given you to return to sexual “normalcy,” know what you experiencing is OK.
a common misconception
Everyone will be ready to have sex 6 weeks after birth. That thought process is ridiculous, here’s why!
Can you have sex sooner if you wish?
Maybe. You may be surprised to hear that some women are given the OK by their doctor or midwife to have sex even sooner. Why? Generally speaking, the main concern in having postpartum sex is infection. The wound in your uterus caused by your placenta being expelled needs to heal before anything foreign can be introduced. That being, said if you think your postpartum bleeding has stopped, I would recommend talking to your healthcare provider before having sex.
If you tore during delivery and got sutures, you can’t have sex until they have healed! This applies for a C-section wound too!
Bleeding, infection and sutures are not the only factors playing a role in your sex life. Hormones are to blame for most of the issues all women have whether they know it or not.
- Estrogen: While breastfeeding, you produce lower levels of estrogen which contributes to natural lubrication. (1)
- Prolactin: Again the culprit is breastfeeding. While breastfeeding, you produce “… higher levels of the hormone prolactin, which serves to reduce sexual desire.” (1)
- Testosterone: Yes, while breastfeeding you have lower levels of testosterone which effects your libido. (1)
Quick-tip: Use lube and foreplay to counteract some of these common postpartum hormonal issues if you choose to have sex.
Sex pain: Sex after giving birth can be painful. Your pelvic-floor and tissue may need considerable healing. Repair may take longer than 6 weeks. I highly recommend getting evaluated by a physical therapist that specializes in pelvic floor injuries (I am about to see one myself).
Breast pain: Your boobs may hurt. If you are having sex or just messing around, let your partner know if you’re in pain. They probably wouldn’t even think of you having great pain and them being off limits.
Quick-tip: This may not sound very romantic or spontaneous, but if you are having issues with breast pain and are planning to try having sex, pump or nurse before you do.
You are physically different in appearance even if just for a short time after birth. Some common body changes include weight gain, stretch marks, saggy skin, fat deposits in your midsection, widening of hips, leaky boobs, darkened pigmentation, linea nigra, hemorrhoids, etc. What a list, right!?! I hope you are happy with your postpartum body, but if you’re not, getting in the mood when you’re not feeling attractive can be hard. There is not much comfort I can offer except to say: you just gave your partner a baby. For many there is nothing more attractive than that.
It is very common to be exhausted and emotionally overwhelmed after having a baby. Both can contribute to a decreased sex drive (with men too). Talk with your partner about sex and keep talking about it. It’s easy to create new/different problems if there is not an ongoing open dialogue. Your partner may feel rejected if he/she doesn’t know how you are feeling or what you are going through among a plethora of other misconceptions. You can’t expect compassion or understanding from your partner if your feelings aren’t expressed.
Personally, I know what it is like to be too preoccupied to even think about having sex. After having my first baby, my husband and I weren’t having any problems, but realized we were so immersed in work, trying to keep up the house, and juggling all that our new life entailed, that we hadn’t spent any alone time together (except while sleeping) and hadn’t even thought to have sex (it wasn’t that we didn’t want too, we were really wrapped up in everything else we forgot, lol). I woke up one morning and the realization just struck me, we were neglecting our relationship. From that moment on, we have not let it happen again, and with each additional child we’ve had, we have remained aware, and no matter how tired we may be when our children go to bed, we devote time every night to each other.
Sex is important!
Although, some may deny that sex is important in a relationship, it is! So many ladies I know try having sex early on, find that it is painful, emotionally uncomfortable or depressing and don’t try again for “forever.” What I am about to say may be unpopular, but I encourage woman to keep on trying. I am not in anyway saying women should have sex in spite of their feelings or pain. I do however encourage you to listen to your body while trying not to “shelf” sex and walk away, putting yourself in a sexual rut long after you could have probably had sex. If you feel as if intercourse is just not in the cards presently, then I encourage other forms of physical contact and a lot of foreplay. You never know, it may be what you need to ease into having sex.
Your doctor or midwife will discuss birth control options with you at your 6 week postpartum appointment. If you have sex before your visit, use protection, that is, if you don’t want to get pregnant again right away. “You can ovulate as early as 25 days after giving birth if you aren’t breastfeeding.” (2)
(1) Kellogg-Spadt, Susan, CRNP, PhD. “Breastfeeding Causing Diminished Sexual Desire | HealthyWomen.” Breastfeeding Causing Diminished Sexual Desire. Healthy Woman, n.d. Web. 14 Jan. 2017.
(2) Team, The BabyCenter Editorial. “Is It True That after Having a Baby, You Can’t Get Pregnant until You Start Having Your Period Again?” BabyCenter. BabyCenter, 18 Jan. 2017. Web. 19 Jan. 2017.
Why Read Pregnancy Journals?
If you are pregnant, trying to conceive, or just curious about pregnancy, follow my pregnancy journey by reading my Pregnancy Journals. This day-by-day diary expresses my pains, feelings and all the embarrassing moments I am going through as pregnant woman. Yes, there are companies that also provide a day-by-day or week-by-week list of pregnancy info or scientific analysis, which is wonderful, but not sufficient for most. As women, we want to know we are not alone and my pregnancy journals will give you that and more. I am a person that is going through the same adventure you are and have before. The truth is, those other companies are providing you with the same information your doctor or midwife will convey to you during your appointments or calls. During my first pregnancy, my male doctor had no insight regarding real ways to handle certain issues. Example of a topic: Lochia. Yes, your doctor or midwife can tell you technically what is happening, but they don’t give you the best/easiest way to deal with it. How long have women been giving birth and even hospitals haven’t been able to figure it out. I did, here is my article: Don’t be ashamed buy some depends. If you are in need of information from a Mom’s perspective, submit questions through my Ask section. I am excited to share my experiences with you!
I am not the authority on any topic asked in this forum. For questions that may have medical implications, please consult your doctor or midwife. The purpose of this section of the site is to provide support, help, or a sounding board for individuals. Whether a person is going through struggles, would like to know they’re not alone, or find out which bottle worked best for my children, I will do my best to answer. There are going to be many ways to reply to all questions posted. I am merely providing my perspective. This forum is not meant for debate.