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How Long to Wait to Have Sex After Birth

Everyone has a different reaction to childbirth, including how it affects your sexual drive. But it’s important to understand why it may be a while before you feel ready for penetrative intercourse again.

Experts recommend waiting at least four to six weeks (or until you get the go-ahead from your caregiver) before resuming sex after birth.

1. Your body is healing

Many new moms assume that after their bodies recover from childbirth, their libidos will return to normal. But the truth is, your body needs time to heal after birth before you can have penetrative sex again.

Your uterus, vagina, and cervix have to shrink back to their pre-pregnancy size, and your hormone levels need to readjust. It may take a while for your libido to return, especially if you are breastfeeding.

Even if your doctor gives you the go-ahead to resume sex, it’s still a good idea to wait at least four to six weeks after delivery. This allows for healing and reduces your risk of complications.

If you had a cesarean section, your physician may advise that you wait even longer, depending on how the procedure went and how much tissue damage you experienced in your incision area. Trying to resume sex too soon could lead to a postpartum hemorrhage or an infection in your incision site.

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It’s also important to discuss sexual desire with your partner to make sure your expectations are in line. Your interest in sex might not match up with your partner’s right after baby, but with patience and intimacy-building activities like massage, you can work out those differences. If sex doesn’t feel the same, consider using a vaginal lubricant and talking openly with your partner about what you are both feeling.

2. You’re not ready

Even if you had an easy pregnancy, a smooth labor and delivery, and a perfect recovery, your body is still healing. You’re also likely to be tired, experience pain and discomfort, have a weakened pelvic floor, low levels of estrogen, and vaginal dryness (especially if you breastfeed).

All of that can contribute to painful postpartum sex. Especially when coupled with other libido-killers like hormone changes, breastfeeding, sleep deprivation, baby blues or postpartum depression, and general exhaustion from taking care of a new baby.

Getting intimate is not only important to bond with your partner, but it’s also a healthy part of your sexual life. Just be sure to use lubrication, make sure you’re aroused and don’t force things, and communicate with your partner about how you want to be touched. You can also try oral or mutual masturbation to get closer without penetration.

Most health care providers recommend waiting at least four to six weeks before having penetrative sex after birth, regardless of how your delivery went. That’s plenty of time for you to recover physically, and if you don’t feel ready by then, don’t worry! Your libido and desire will return over time, but in the meantime, there are other ways to stay close to your partner. You can cuddle under the covers, take a relaxing bath, or massage each other.

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3. You’re afraid

The lingering pain from delivery, hormonal changes, baby blues or postpartum depression and fatigue can all take a toll on new moms. Add to that the fact that a woman’s body has gone through so much in the past nine months, it’s no wonder many women are nervous about how they will feel during sex after birth.

Even if the healthcare professionals give you the go-ahead, it’s important to remember that it’s your body and your feelings that should trump all else. A low libido is completely normal and will likely pass as you begin to recover from the exhausting physical and emotional demands of your newborn.

It’s also important to note that you may have a dilated or open cervix after birth, depending on the type of delivery you had. Having penetration while your cervix is still open increases the risk of uterine infection by more than three times.

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And remember that you will probably experience some light bleeding after sex, which is caused by the contraction of your uterus as it heals from any lacerations or stitches. It’s important to arm yourself with plenty of water-based lubricant and some foreplay before you dive in. You’ll find that the heightened levels of estrogen can sometimes cause a bit of friction, so make sure to be ready for that as well.

4. You’re breastfeeding

The first few months after a baby’s birth can be difficult and exhausting. You’re adjusting to your new life, getting less sleep than you used to and dealing with pain from your delivery. Your libido may be low and, in many cases, sex is the last thing on your mind. But with time, you can find ways to reconnect and feel intimate again.

Your healthcare provider will likely recommend that you wait to have sex until at least four weeks postpartum, and that’s especially true if you had a vaginal delivery. It takes that long for your uterus to heal, particularly the area where the placenta was attached, and having intercourse too soon can increase your risk of complications, including hemorrhage and uterine infection.

In addition, if you’re breastfeeding, your libido may be lower due to hormonal changes and your body’s need to produce milk. Breastfeeding can also cause vaginal dryness, and you should use a lubricant during sex to prevent friction from irritating your tender vulva and uterus.