The delivery of a baby is a major event in a woman’s life.
While the first thing most women think about after having a baby is not usually sex, most women may find that having sex again after their delivery may actually be more daunting than they realize it to be.
This is likely due to a combination of factors ranging from soreness and pain post delivery, fatigue from caring for a newborn baby and also feeling less flattering than usual due to all the postpartum body changes.
- 1 When Is The Right Time To Start Having Sex Again?
- 2 Does Sex Hurt After Giving Birth?
- 3 What Are The Other Important Factors To Consider?
- 4 Tips For A Healthy Sex Life Post Delivery?
When Is The Right Time To Start Having Sex Again?
It all depends on how comfortable and ready a woman feels to have sex again after giving birth. However, a general rule of thumb is to wait at least six weeks before starting any sexual activity again.
This is to allow adequate time for a woman’s body to recover from the delivery process.
This is to allow the cervix to go back to normal and for vaginal tears and repairs to heal adequately.
Most women will also have their postnatal checkups with their doctors in about 4-6 weeks to know if they have any issues with their recovery.
Women who had a complicated delivery with more complicated or serious vaginal tears and repairs may have to wait longer than 6 weeks before having sex again.
Does Sex Hurt After Giving Birth?
You may feel uncomfortable the first time you resume sex post delivery. This is especially if you delivered via normal vaginal delivery.
During a natural birth, your pelvic muscles undergo a significant amount of stretching in order to push and deliver the baby. On top of that, an episiotomy is often done to aid in the delivery. This would mean stitches or tears in the vaginal region that require time to heal post delivery.
This can make a woman more susceptible and sensitive to pain in an area that is already very sensitive.
On top of that, hormonal changes after delivery may leave your vagina feeling more dry and painful, especially if you are breastfeeding. This is due to the reduction of the female hormone called estrogen.
What Are The Other Important Factors To Consider?
1. Emotional And Psychological Factors
Emotional and psychological factors play a much bigger role than we are aware of, as many women undergo major emotional ups and downs or challenges post delivery.
This is commonly triggered by the anxiety and stress of caring for a newborn baby, hormonal fluctuations or bodily changes that result in a woman feeling she is a less flattering form of herself post delivery.
Some women may even experience postnatal blues or depression due to all the stress and changes going on.
These are significant contributing factors to the challenges women face with having sex again post delivery.
2. Reduced Sex Drive
Reduced libido and a lack of sex drive are actually relatively common in postpartum women.
The loss of interest can be due to the various emotional and psychological factors as mentioned above, but it can also be due to physical reasons too.
First and foremost, a woman may still be feeling sore from the recovering vaginal tears and repairs she went through during delivery. Even if she went through a caesarean section, her body will also be recovering from a major surgery after all.
Next, a woman’s breasts may also be feeling sore and engorged from trying to breastfeed her baby. Hormonal changes during the postnatal period will also lead to a drastic drop in estrogen and progesterone levels that can lead to vaginal dryness and loss of libido.
Dealing with all these pain, fatigue and discomfort may cause a woman to become fearful of engaging in sex again post delivery or lead to a loss of interest.
3. Doing It Too Soon
If 6 weeks is the general timeframe to resume sex post delivery, what happens if you start doing it too soon?
The reason for using 6 weeks as a general timeframe is because the body takes about 6 weeks to recover post delivery.
Doing it too soon can cause more problems or complications in the recovery process. If the woman has stitches around the vaginal area that have not healed adequately, or had a particularly complex tear during the delivery that has not healed, sexual activity can cause wound breakdown and wound infection.
This may in turn delay or complicate the recovery process and may even require a second repair of the wound.
4. Caesarean Section VS Normal Delivery
Does it make a difference whether you underwent a caesarean section or a normal delivery?
The answer is yes. The recovery process of each method will vary, and women who underwent a caesarean section may face different challenges compared to women who had a vaginal delivery.
First and foremost, the recovery from a caesarean section will take longer compared to a natural birth. The recovery from a caesarean section takes an average of at least 1-2 months.
While having a caesarean section may not leave you feeling sore down below with tears or stitches, this group of women will have an abdominal wound to care for post operatively.
This may contribute to pain or discomfort during intimacy as well.
5. Birth Control
Not planning for another baby so soon after delivery?
Then birth control is something absolutely essential to consider and discuss with your doctor. Yes, you can still get pregnant very easily, even though you have just given birth.
If you are breastfeeding exclusively with no return of menses, it may be used as a form of birth control, but only up to 6 months postpartum.
For women doing mixed feeding or not breastfeeding, the return of fertility and ovulation is much quicker and can be as early as 6 weeks post delivery.
Tips For A Healthy Sex Life Post Delivery?
1. Take It Slow
Only resume sex when you feel mentally and physically ready. Do not feel pressured into resuming sex too soon just after your delivery if you feel that you have not adequately recovered.
2. Use Lubrication
This can help to ease the dryness and pain to reduce any discomfort
3. Make Time
With a new baby to care for, you and your partner may find it harder to make time for sex. Put in the effort to make time for intimacy to maintain the relationship. This will help to avoid any rushing or anxiety and to allow time to ease into a relaxed environment.
Speak to your partner and be honest and open about how you feel and whether you are ready for any intimacy. There is nothing wrong with needing more time to rest and recover. Having good support without pressure is important from your partner. If you are not ready for sex, you can always find other ways to be intimate to maintain the closeness of the relationship.
Kegel exercises are exercises that help to strength the pelvic muscles that have been stretched out during delivery. This will help you improve the strength of your pelvic floor to reduce discomfort during sex and also to reduce symptoms of urinary incontinence post delivery.