Whether you had a vaginal delivery or C-section, it’s important to return to sexual intimacy at your own pace. Many new moms find that breastfeeding and cuddling their baby helps bring back their desire for sex.
However, women’s hormone levels plummet after birth and breastfeeding, leading to vaginal dryness that can exacerbate pain during penetrative sex.
1. Two weeks after delivery
As with all aspects of motherhood, every woman’s recovery is unique. Whether you’ve had a vaginal or cesarean delivery, your health care provider will let you know when you’re ready to get back between the sheets. Generally, your doctor will recommend waiting until after your six-week postpartum visit to give you the go-ahead.
Having sex too soon increases your risk of infection in the area where the placenta was attached. The area may still be bleeding or open, and any bacteria from intercourse or feminine products could enter it. Women who had an episiotomy or a perineal tear often find sexual activity painful for several months after childbirth, as the area heals.
For new moms, it’s also a good idea to wait until your hormones return to normal after pregnancy. You’re at the highest risk of getting pregnant again within two weeks after delivery, as your ovaries are very sensitive to any change in hormones, including those caused by sex.
It’s a good idea to plan other ways to be intimate with your partner in the meantime, like spending time together while baby sleeps or cuddling. This can help you and your partner focus on your love for one another and may even bring back your desire for sex. Regardless of your motivation, it’s important to remember that no matter what type of delivery you had, it takes time for your body to feel sexy again.
2. Four weeks after delivery
You and your partner will need to be patient if you are trying to get back into the sex game. But it’s worth it, because sex after baby can be very satisfying. It just takes time to figure out the right balance.
In the meantime, be sure to use a water-based lubricant, and don’t push yourself too hard. Your vagina will still be healing, and the pain from stitches may interfere with your enjoyment. Plus, if you are breastfeeding, you will need to focus on other aspects of physical touch with your partner, such as holding hands and cuddling.
It’s also important to be honest with your partner about how you feel about sex after baby. Many women struggle with low libido after pregnancy, and that’s okay. It can be aggravated by fatigue, low hormone levels and caring for a newborn.
Your doctor will let you know when it’s safe for you to resume sexual activity. You’ll have a postpartum check between four and six weeks after delivery, and your provider will examine how your pelvic area is healing (whether from a vaginal or cesarean birth) and whether you’re still bleeding. You’ll also discuss the best form of birth control for your situation, because you can get pregnant again even if you’re breastfeeding and your periods haven’t started yet.
3. Six weeks after delivery
Everyone’s bodies recover differently, and even if your doctor says it’s fine for you to have sex soon, you may still not feel up to it. That’s perfectly okay. Your sex drive and energy will return when you’re ready.
Having sex too early can cause complications, like a hemorrhage or uterine infection. Your uterus is especially vulnerable right after delivery, where the placenta was attached. Having intercourse during this time can also introduce bacteria into the area.
If you had a C-section, your doctor may recommend abstaining from sexual activity until six weeks after delivery to allow the incision to heal and reduce your risk of complications. Women who had a vaginal delivery can usually resume sexual activity sooner than that, but it’s best to ask your provider about the right timing for you.
During recovery, it’s important to be careful about what you put in your vagina and use lubricant, especially if breastfeeding. Keeping your vagina moist will help prevent painful sex because of lowered estrogen levels. It’s a good idea to use only water-based lubricants, as some non-water-based ones can dry you out and make things more uncomfortable. It’s also a good idea to talk to your partner about foreplay. Some people find that it helps them get more into the mood and feel more comfortable.
4. Eight weeks after delivery
Whether you had a vaginal or C-section delivery, your vulva takes some time to heal after childbirth. If you had a tear or other problem, such as an episiotomy, it can take even longer. During this period, it’s not safe for you to have sexual activity that involves penetration. Having sex during this time can lead to an infection. This infection can be transmitted to the baby through breast milk, increasing the risk of disease for both mom and kid.
Many new mothers have low libido after having a baby. This is often due to fatigue, lower estrogen levels while breastfeeding and the stress of caring for a new baby. However, it is usually not a long-term condition. If your libido does not return, try to be patient and communicate with your partner. Talk about what you’re both feeling and agree on a plan for when you want to get intimate.
You should also discuss your desire for sex with your healthcare provider during your six-week postpartum check. They can give you the all-clear for sex, but they may suggest waiting a bit or asking that you start off slow (sex doesn’t have to involve penetration). If you do decide to have sex, use backup birth control. It is possible to get pregnant very early in a pregnancy, and you can get an infection if you have sex before your periods start again.