Sex After Pregnancy

How long do you have to wait before having sex after pregnancy, Heres everything you need to know

Although the answer is different for everyone, how long until after giving birth do you need to wait before you start having sex? What do you need to consider?

Why do I need to wait?

The answer to this question is not really one you need to answer for yourself. You will know why/if you need to wait: you just don’t feel ready. But the answer – whether physical, emotional or mental – is one that your partner does need to understand.

Vaginal tearing, stitches and perineal pain

The pain and discomfort that lingers after childbirth – never mind any tearing or stitches – is likely to put you off having sex straight away. For this reason, many women and couples wait until after having their six-week postpartum exam. This is where your medical professional will check to see that everything is healing well on your end.

Although you can resume sex even earlier if you are feeling comfortable, you just as surely want to avoid uncomfortable sex if you are in pain.

Caesarean stitches

You might need to wait until the pain from your C-section disappears or until the stitches have come out before you resume sex. The pressure on your abdomen and the motions of sex can cause significant discomfort.

Avoiding infection

Following childbirth, both your uterus and cervix will be in a process of healing. This can make them more susceptible to infection, which can be transmitted via objects inserted into the vagina. It is for this reason that pads rather than tampons are recommended.

Sleep deprivation and exhaustion

The newly added responsibility of another individual can mean there is less time for you to find sleep and look after yourself. The frequent wake-ups and feeding sessions can leave you and your partner with low sex drives, and either of you with a fear that if sex does occur, it’s perfunctory and rushed.

Changes to your body

Your body goes through incredible changes to accommodate the birth of another human being. You might need to take some time to accept that your body will be new and different and acknowledge that some of the badges of motherhood are permanent.

Orgasms and pleasure can feel different

The massive emotional and physical changes that accompany childbirth can lead to changes in the way your body reacts to sex and stimulation. You might need to take some time to rediscover yourself before your partner rediscovers you.

Unequal expectations

This is a tricky one to deal with and requires considerable respect, patience and communication from both parties.

Sex and intimacy are an important part of a loving relationship, but there are so many anxieties and fears about raising a child – not to mention about resuming sex after the upheaval of childbirth – that sometimes something can be lost in all the noise.

It is vital to maintain the lines of communication with your partner about the expectations that each of you have and any pressures that you might be feeling. By discussing the experiences, thoughts and emotions that you’re having you might realise the barriers aren’t as big as you perceived them to be.

How do I get back on track?

  • Some of the first steps you can take involve putting aside the time to spend together. While these don’t need to be occasions for sexual activity, they can form the basis for a resumption of physical intimacy and emotional expression between you.
  • Postnatal exercise – especially with your partner – is a great way to regain control of your body, release endorphins and stress, and increase your energy and self-esteem.
  • You can use lubricant to counteract some of the dryness that can occur due to hormonal changes.
  • Practising Kegel exercise will help tone your pelvic floor muscles and restore tone and sensation to your vagina and perineum.
  • Talk to a therapist. If sex was a regular part of your daily and weekly life before childbirth, and it hasn’t resumed six months following, then there might be underlying issues that need to be addressed. You should also seek care if the signs of postnatal depression are showing.
  • Choose sex positions in which you have a greater degree of control of movement, pressure and speed.

In the end, it is up to you to make an informed and unpressured decision regarding your readiness to resume having sex. It is also normal to feel anxiety at the prospect of postnatal sex, or even at the prospect of talking about it. But it’s important for you to be open, honest, patient and you are completely justified to expect the same in return.

When did you resume sex after pregnancy? What considerations did you and your partner have to take into account?