Sex After Baby – What You Need to Know

Every woman is different, and sex after baby is something you’ll need to work up to. Most doctors recommend waiting six weeks to try vaginal or oral sex, especially if you’ve had a C-section.

But your body has changed — and so have your hormones. That can affect your libido, which is perfectly normal.

1. Four to six weeks after delivery

Most health care providers recommend waiting at least six weeks before having sex, whether you gave birth vaginally or via C-section. That gives your body time to recover from childbirth and reduces the risk of complications. It also allows your incision from a C-section to heal. If you had a vaginal delivery, your uterus may still be dilated, and bacteria from your partner’s penis, fingers or saliva could enter your healing cervix and cause an infection.

If you do decide to have sex within the recommended time frame, be sure to use contraception. And remember, breastfeeding can interfere with your hormones, which may affect sexual desire and intimacy.

Every woman heals at a different pace, and you might feel ready to resume intimate relationships much sooner than others. That’s completely normal, but it’s important to have a discussion with your partner about what you both want and need.

Intimate experiences such as cuddling and massage can be great ways to bond with your new baby. And don’t be afraid to ask for help when needed. Being a parent is a big job that requires lots of support. You’re both going through major life changes, so take it easy and be patient. You’ll get there. The good news is, most women don’t experience long-term problems with sex after childbirth.

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2. Two to four weeks after delivery

If you have had a vaginal birth, your health visitor will likely recommend that you wait until you are healed and your perineal wound (or episiotomy) has completely closed before resuming sexual activity. If you had a Cesarean section, your doctor may suggest that you abstain for up to six weeks, depending on whether or not you were dilated before delivery.

It is not uncommon for women to feel that their libido has diminished after a baby. This is a normal response to the intense physical demands of pregnancy and birth, as well as other factors like sleep deprivation, hormonal changes and breastfeeding. It is important to remember that sex can be pleasurable, even if you don’t feel sexually aroused, and that it is important to maintain communication with your partner about what feels good and what doesn’t.

In addition, some women experience a lack of interest in sex while they are breastfeeding, as the hormones involved in milk let-down also inhibit sexual arousal. It is also a good idea to use contraception, especially during the period of time that you are introducing your child to solids, in order to prevent pregnancy from occurring. You can ask for information about using contraception from your health visitor, GP or family planning clinic. The good news is that, in most cases, the libido returns to pre-pregnancy levels shortly after the birth of your child.

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3. Three to six weeks after delivery

If you had a vaginal delivery, it may take some time for your body to recover from the physical stress of childbirth. Depending on how fast you heal, you may feel ready for sex a few weeks after your delivery, or it might be several months before this feels like an option again. If you had a C-section, it’s best to wait for at least six weeks after your baby is born to resume sexual activity. This is because many people who have a C-section are still dilated after giving birth, which can allow bacteria from your penis, fingers, saliva or toys to enter the healing uterus and cause infection.

This doesn’t mean you can’t have sex at all during this time period, just that it’s safer for you to abstain from penetrative sex until your doctor tells you it’s safe to do so. This is a recommendation from most medical professionals and is meant to help you avoid infections after your delivery.

Of course, every woman’s delivery and recovery is different. You might be ready to have sex right away, or you might feel that cuddling or other forms of intimacy are more your speed for now. That’s okay, too; the important thing is that you and your partner find a way to connect with one another in ways that are meaningful for both of you.

4. One to two months after delivery

It’s totally normal to have a low libido in the months after having a baby. You’re dealing with the intense physical and emotional demands of caring for your newborn, as well as getting back to your pre-pregnancy body. It’s also common to feel tired, overwhelmed and sore. That’s why it’s important to take things slow, listen to your body and communicate with your partner.

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For example, if you’re having painful postpartum sex, it’s worth talking to your practitioner about it. It could be a sign that your cervix is not healing well after the delivery. This can make you more prone to infection because bacteria from the vagina can travel directly into your uterus. If you’ve had a cesarean section, it’s particularly important to wait until your c-section incision heals completely.

Your doctor will usually examine your cervix, uterus and incision at your six-week postpartum checkup. During this time, they’ll make sure you’re fully healed and ready to resume sexual activity. Even then, it’s important to talk with your provider about birth control. It’s still possible to get pregnant very quickly after having a baby. Even if you’re breastfeeding, it’s best to have backup birth control for several weeks or more after your delivery. That way, you can rest assured that you’re not a risk for another pregnancy.

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