Chances are you’re not going to feel like having sex after childbirth for quite some time.
Some partners understand this (particularly the ones that witnessed a vaginal birth, while others may be having a more difficult time coming to terms with waiting 6 weeks. Not that you need to justify yourself but there are some physical and mental reasons that you can fill them in on.
Most healthcare providers are going to tell you to wait 4-6 weeks until having sex after childbirth and these are the reasons why:
7 Reasons to wait for sex after childbirth
Okay, so you just pushed a BABY out of your vagina. That means that you pushed a watermelon-sized head out of a loonie sized vagina. #proudcanadianwoman
Even if you didn’t have any sort of tearing or episiotomy you probably are feeling a little stretched thin-yes, literally and figuratively, but we’ll get to the figurative part later. Your labia has been stretched and is likely feeling a little tender. It will take a few weeks for everything to be a little less sensitive and may need some being left alone during that time.
If you’ve had a cesarean birth you will have stitches or staples in your lower abdomen. If you’ve had a tear or episiotomy you likely have stitches in your perineum.
Neither of these healing wounds should be irritated until, well, they’re healed. Depending on the severity of the wound this will take at least two weeks.
Before approximately the 6 week mark your cervix is still dilated from childbirth. This leaves your body open to infection that may occur from a penis or other objects being inserted into the vagina. You’ll know that your cervix is still open if you’re bleeding or by going to see your healthcare professional for a check-up.
Be careful with taking chances on infection; truthfully, the last thing you’re going to want to deal with on top of your healing body and a newborn baby is a vaginal infection.
General body discomfort
It may seem logical that your pain and discomfort is going to be centralized to your vagina or surgical site. Unfortunately, it doesn’t end there.
Your entire body is going to be experiencing a world of change: back pain from 9 million months of pregnancy, excess fluid, shoulder pain from nursing, aching breasts, sore feet, tired body, etc. etc. etc..
You’ve just had a workout of a lifetime and you may not be up to a romp session.
This is 100% okay.
You, my friend, have a lot of stuff coming out of your vagina. Blood, mucus, uterine tissue will come out strong for about 10 days after birth and then taper off somewhat until around the 6-week mark when it stops.
This is your body’s way of expelling all of the now unnecessary fluid, so if you have sex after childbirth when this discharge is being, well, discharged it will be quite akin to having sex while on your period.
*One thing to note is that the smell of the discharge after childbirth is different than when you have your period-it’s stronger and just plain different. This can be hard to get around when trying to get in the mood.
**One thing to note on the one thing to note is that if your discharge is foul-smelling you should see your healthcare provider to rule out an existing infection.
Decreased sex drive
Ohhhhh hormones, you bastards.
Your body is a tornado of hormones from the remaining pregnancy ones to the breastfeeding ones to the childbirth ones. What a mix.
Oh! Ya! I almost forgot to mention the inevitable sleep loss that you can factor in, too, and right there you’ve got yourself the makings of a (probably) decreased sex drive. It can also lead to decreased lubrication regardless of if you’re aroused or not. You may not have had to use lubricant before but having a water-based one on hand now is a good idea.
Changes in breasts
Breastfeeding causes higher levels of prolactin and lower levels of estrogen in the nursing parent. This can, like above, lead to a lower sexual desire.
Some folks find it very uncomfortable to have their breasts touched in a sexual manner when they’re breastfeeding while others find it to be a turn on. This is a conversation that you and your partner should have before resuming sexual activity.
For breastfeeding parents, there may be leaking or even spraying (!) during an orgasm. Some partners find this arousing while others find it unnerving. If it’s something that’s not for either of you it can be a quick fix with a nursing bra and nursing pads.
You just fed the baby. They’re snug as a bug in a rug and you’re certain they’re going to be asleep for at least a couple hours while you and your partner(s) give this sex after childbirth thing a go.
You do a half happy, half sexy dance, take off your clothes, start getting frisky, and….WAHHHHHHHHHHH!
Baby wakes up and the mood is killed.
It takes a few weeks to really get into the groove of having a newborn. That’s not to say that at the 6 week mark your baby is suddenly entirely predictable, but you’ll likely have a bit more awareness to their patterns.
There are so many variables when it comes to a person’s sexuality, especially after they’ve given birth.
It’s by far one of the most vulnerable, exposed times in a person’s life and sometimes that can take some coming back from. Particularly in cases where there’s been trauma during birth, it can be very challenging for people to want to open themselves back up to that vulnerability.
Getting back into having sex after childbirth is something that should be given great care and consideration. Your first priority is making sure that your body is healthy and able to engage in sex after childbirth-you can be sure of this by allowing yourself time to heal and by checking in with your healthcare professional for medical clearance before jumping your partner(s).
When you do decide that you’re ready try and keep these few things in mind.
- Begin with an open dialogue about how and when to resume sex after childbirth. Make sure that each partner is on the same page and comfortable with plans going forward.
- Lower expectations. If things don’t go smoothly the first time give it some time before trying again.
- Start small. Try masturbation first to become re-acquainted with your body. Then, finger penetration with your partner a couple of times. Then, give penetrative sex a go when you’re ready.
Have fun! Oh, and now that you’re a parent you can go ahead and give “7 best sex positions for parents” a read. You’re going to need to know these.