Most doctors recommend waiting about six weeks after delivery before resuming sexual activities, but your own feelings should always trump any go-ahead from your doctor. Even then, it’s important to remember that sexual intercourse involving penetration should be avoided until the uterus has healed.
Some women have a low libido after childbirth and are tired, sore and exhausted from caring for their newborn. Many also have a perineal tear or episiotomy that needs to heal.
Four to Six Weeks After Delivery
Many women who had vaginal delivery will experience a delay in their ability to engage in sexual activities due to pain from the perineal tear or episiotomy. In these cases, it’s recommended that women wait until the sutures in their perineal area have healed before trying to have sex. The same can be said for women who delivered through cesarean section. Women who have a C-section will also have to allow time for their incision to heal before engaging in sexual activity.
After delivery, a woman may have a large amount of bleeding and discharge that is sometimes referred to as lochia. This is normal and typically will stop by four to six weeks after birth. Until then, it is best that women abstain from sexual activities and use a barrier method of birth control to prevent infection.
At a postpartum checkup between four and six weeks after delivery, doctors will check the labia, uterus, and cervix to make sure that they are healing well. They will also check the incision site for a C-section. The doctor will give you the all-clear to resume sexual activities, but it is important that you listen to your body and take things slowly. Remember, breastfeeding is hard work and will likely lower your libido for some time. Having an open dialogue with your partner will help you feel prepared and comfortable when the time comes to get back into the bedroom.
Six to Eight Weeks After Delivery
During this time, your body is recovering from childbirth and you may feel very little sexual desire. This is normal, and it will eventually pass. However, you can re-ignite your sexual fires once your doctor gives you the all clear to do so.
When you are ready to resume sexual activity, make sure to schedule sex for when you and your partner can have some quality time together. This will help you feel more prepared, and it won’t be rushed or uncomfortable. It’s also important to talk with your partner about what sexual activities feel good or don’t feel good. It’s easy to forget that sex can be painful, especially if you’ve had stitches or are still leaking urine.
If you had a vaginal delivery, your practitioner will likely want to wait longer than six weeks before giving you the go-ahead for sex. Your pelvic floor muscles will take some time to heal, and a dilated cervix leaves you more vulnerable to infection.
If you had a cesarean, your practitioner will likely recommend waiting even longer than six weeks before resuming sexual activities. A c-section is more invasive than a vaginal birth, and your incision takes some time to heal. Plus, a dilated cervix is easier for bacteria to travel through and cause an infection. Your practitioner will probably give you the go-ahead to resume sexual activity after he or she has examined your uterus, labia, and vagina.
Twelve to Sixteen Weeks After Delivery
Sexual desire can take a while to return following childbirth. You may find that you feel more interested in other aspects of your relationship, such as spending time with your baby and talking about the future. It is important to keep open communication with your partner, and respect their feelings about intimacy as well.
If you had a vaginal birth, you may have some postpartum bleeding and a perineal or episiotomy that needs to heal. If you engage in sexual activity too soon, this can increase your risk of complications such as postpartum hemorrhage or uterine infection.
Women who had a cesarean delivery should not engage in sexual activities until their doctor approves it. Most women who have C-sections are dilated after delivery, and engaging in sexual activity with a dilated cervix can lead to an infection.
You can also get pregnant very soon after giving birth, so if you have a plan to resume sexual activity in the early weeks after delivery, be sure to use a backup form of birth control. Talk to your GP or health visitor about birth control options, as they are most familiar with your medical history. They can give you more personalized recommendations for safe sex after childbirth.
Six Months After Delivery
Most doctors recommend waiting until your six week postpartum check to have sex, regardless of whether you had a vaginal or cesarean delivery. During this visit your doctor will do a pelvic exam looking at the labia, vagina, uterus and cervix to make sure everything is healing well. They may also do an incision site inspection if you had a cesarean section to see how the wound is healing.
If you had a c-section, it’s especially important to wait until your doctor gives the all-clear for penetrative intercourse. During the weeks following childbirth the cervix is often still dilated and can be easily infected during sex. If this happens, it could cause bleeding and even a complication like hemorrhage.
Some new mothers find that sex is just not something they feel like doing right after having a baby, and that’s okay. You’ve added a very demanding little human to your life and it can take time to adjust to the physical demands of parenting. You’re also sleep deprived and your body has changed dramatically and you might just not be feeling it.
Many women find that their libido returns quickly once they’ve gotten the go-ahead from their doctors, but for some it takes longer. In the meantime, there are plenty of ways to be close and intimate with your partner, including kissing, mutual masturbation, stroking and other non-penetrative activities.