Sex after pregnancy happens, but it might be the last thing on your mind. However, exhaustion and vaginal soreness might take charge. Whether you feel as though intimacy is the last thing that strikes your mind or you are in the mood to have sex, you need to understand sex after childbirth. Pregnancy and delivery bring a lot of changes in your body as well as changes in your sex life. Your vaginal tissue becomes thinner and more sensitive after post-delivery hormonal changes. Your uterus, cervix, and vagina have to return to their normal size. Breastfeeding lowers the libido. Thus, your body needs some break after delivery.
Doctors recommend women should wait for four to six weeks after vaginal delivery, and you might need to wait longer if you had a C-section. You also need to take things slow even after the doctor has given you the clear to resume sexual activities. However, no definite timeline says how long you need to wait to have sex after childbirth. Apart from physical recovery, you need to adjust to a new family member, changes in your daily routine, and less sleep. In addition, returning to sex too early might increase your risk of complications such as urine infection and postpartum haemorrhage.
How does delivery affect sex?
After delivery, sex will feel different. In 2005, it was found that 83% of females experienced sexual problems in the first three months after delivery. The number reduces as the post-pregnancy months increase.
The most common problem with sex after childbirth are:
- Thin vaginal tissue
- Vaginal dryness
- Loss of elasticity in vaginal tissue
- Loose muscle
- Perineal tear or episiotomy
- Low libido
Hormones play a major role in post-delivery recovery. Oestrogen drops to pre-pregnancy levels in the days immediately after childbirth. During breastfeeding, oestrogen levels sink. Estrogen acts as natural lubrication, so a low level of this hormone increases the likelihood of vaginal dryness, which leads to irritation and even bleeding during sex. Resuming sex too soon might increase your risk of infection.
Caesarean delivery also affects vaginal sensation. The hormonal issue can make the vagina tissue dry and thin, resulting in painful sex. After C-section delivery, you’ll also need to make sure the incision site has been healed before resuming sex.
How soon can you get pregnant?
It was found that the first ovulation for women is around 6 weeks who weren’t breastfeeding, and some ovulated even earlier. After delivery, if you are breastfeeding, the hormonal benefits of nursing act as a natural form of birth control for 4-6 months.
Breastfeeding may be 98% effective in terms of birth control in women who:
~ haven’t started menstruating
~ are breastfeeding their child
~ are less than 6 months postpartum
You can also plan to use a reliable method of birth control if you are going to have sex after delivery and don’t want to have another child so soon.
Is bleeding normal during sex after normal delivery?
Whether you had a vaginal delivery or a C-section, postpartum bleeding is a normal part of recovery as your uterus heals. Bleeding shows how your body is getting rid of extra tissue, blood, and mucus, which is needed during pregnancy. You might also experience bleeding after having sex due to vaginal dryness. Wait for a few days. Consult your doctor if the bleeding doesn’t stop within 4-6 weeks. You may have signs of an infection or irritation that needs to be treated before having intercourse again.
How to get back into sex after childbirth?
- Set the mood – Whatever it requires to set your mood and relax- a massage, candles, or a glass of wine – do it.
- Start doing Kegels – Start doing your Kegels before you have sex. These exercises will engage and strengthen your pelvic floor, promote healing, improve muscle tone and increase blood flow. Doing so can help sex feel more comfortable once you are ready.
- Take time to warm up – Don’t feel shy or afraid about saying what does and doesn’t feel good. Ask your partner to put in some effort to warm you up, making the main event better for both partners.
- Get comfortable – Get some postpartum sex helpers, such as a supportive pillow that will help you feel more comfortable in certain sex positions and alleviate pressure points.
- Lubricate – Many women find lubricant to be essential when having sex after delivery. Lubricant helps in reducing pain and increases pleasure.
- Assume the position – Take time to identify the positions that feel good. Try those positions that will put less pressure on tender areas and offer control over the depth of penetration while having penetrative sex.
Ways to maintain intimacy after having a baby
- Make small gestures – Small gestures such as a kiss, hug, an email about what turns you on, and a note all will help deliver results.
- Get naked – Practising skin-to-skin with your partner will make you feel more connected. Hoping in the shower with your partner once your baby is asleep might as well turn it into an opportunity to spend some time together.
- Schedule intimacy – Schedule some time for intimacy, just time to be together with your partner and have an intimate conversation, even if it doesn’t involve having sex.
- Find some alone time – Even if you are not in the mood to have sex, try to spend some alone time with your partner without your baby. You can do this either in the morning or after your baby is sleeping.
- Leave the bedroom – Try spicing things up by making love in another part of your home rather than in bed. Try the couch area, laundry room, or any other area of your home where you feel comfortable.
- Get playful – Experiment with new toys together rather than your vibrator. You can also try erotic games or role-playing.
Give yourself some time to adjust to your new normal after pregnancy. It’s okay if you are not feeling ready for sex for a few months after delivery. Always remember you are not alone. Apart from sex, there are many other ways to be intimate with your partner that will make you feel comfortable.