Struggling to Have Sex Again After Baby? Here is What to Do.
I don’t think I will ever forget those first few months after having our son. Being a first-time mom, it still hadn’t sunk in quite yet that I had just entered a completely different phase in my life. It would take a few months and quite a bit of effort before this finally happened, but to tell that story I’d need a whole other post.
Although I didn’t realize it at first, one of the things that took a massive hit after having our son was our sex life. I think it’s because those last few months before delivery conditioned us to reduced sexual activity, and we still had that mindset even after or son was born. Or perhaps it was something else entirely, I’m not sure.
Either way, this is something that most couples go through. After those 9 pregnancy months, it can take quite a while to get back to the pre-birth regular sexy-time routine.
In fact, does anyone ever really go back to doing it as much as their childless selves used to? I know I probably never will. It’s really hard to schedule in some sexy-time especially when you have a young child.
I think the best you can hope for is a sort of semi-regularity, especially during those first few years. And that’s ok.
But I digress. Where were we? Right. Sex immediately after having a baby. Well, doctors suggest laying off the bang-bang for about 4 to 6 weeks after delivery. That’s 4 weeks for vaginal births and 6 weeks for cesarean deliveries. However, if you had some birth complications, for example, if you had a perineal tear or episiotomy, your doctor will be the one to advise you on when you can resume having sex.
Those four to six weeks are very important for your healing and recovery. Immediately after delivery, your body enters the healing phase. A lot goes on during this phase, including the gradual reduction of vaginal bleeding, the healing of any cuts and tears, and the closing of the cervix. Your body gradually returns to its pre-pregnancy state.
This means if you have sex too early, you risk opening up those wounds, getting uterine infections, or even triggering postpartum hemorrhage. It’s a whole host of nasty problems that you definitely don’t want, so no matter how ready to go you feel, don’t do it!
Alright. That aside, in most cases, having sex for the first time after having a baby does not just happen without a bit of effort. And even after you do it for the first time, there are still a number of things that your body will do that will make you go, “huh?”
So what’s normal? And when should you be worried?
What is normal?
Immediately after birth, there are several things that you need to look out for to help you determine how ready you are to have sex again. Every woman will have one or more of these factors coming into play:
Pain levels- this includes both general body pain, pain related to your healing process, and pain that you may experience from your attempts at sex.
Fatigue– those first few sleepless months can be really tiring, and sex will probably be the last thing on your mind most of the time.
Stress– the more stressed you are, the less ready you are to have sex again.
Sex drive- It is quite common for women to have very low sex drives during those first few months after birth. Nothing to be worried about.
Vaginal dryness– this is pretty common, too. Vaginal dryness usually lasts about four to six weeks, or up to 3 or 4 months if you are breastfeeding.
Postpartum depression– Postpartum depression can be quite a bitch. It is not wise to suffer silently with it. If this is something you are going through, you might need to seek additional help. I’ll be talking more about this subject in a later post.
The fear of sex or pregnancy.
The first time you do have sex after having a baby, you will quickly realize how different it feels from the way it did before pregnancy. I clearly remember my first time; it didn’t feel like throwing a sausage down a corridor like I was made to believe it would, thank goodness. However, it did feel very different from what I was used to.
Sex feels different for the first few months after delivery for many reasons. The main one being the fact that your body still has very low levels of estrogen, which is an essential sex hormone. This is why you will likely experience vaginal dryness for a while.
For breastfeeding mamas, the very act of breastfeeding lowers your sex drive because it places your body in a state that tries to prevent you from getting pregnant again. Breastfeeding is a natural contraceptive, and the way it works is quite remarkable: it lowers your libido so you don’t want to have sex, and if you do it anyway, it lowers the chances of you getting pregnant.
You may also experience some pain during sex the first few times you do it. This is often due to one of two reasons: vaginal dryness or healing vaginal walls. If you had an episiotomy or a perineal tear, sex may also be painful for a few months after delivery.
Here are a few steps you can take to ease this pain:
Make lube your sex partner. You’ll need it especially if you are dealing with vaginal dryness.
If vaginal sex is too painful, try something else. Oral sex, massages, and even mutual masturbation are good alternatives.
Seek pain relief before you start. Empty your bladder, take a warm bath, or even take an over the counter pain reliever if it helps.
Go all-in on the foreplay. More foreplay will give your vagina time to lubricate itself, and this will make the experience significantly less painful.
If you experience a burning sensation afterward, applying some ice to the area really helps. Just put some ice in a piece of cloth then let it rest down there.
Sex during this period is all about timing. Pick your moments well. Only do it when you are not too tired or anxious.
If none of these solutions work and sex still continues to be painful, consult your healthcare provider.
If you had a vaginal birth, you may also notice that penetration feels different, and not in a good way. The vagina experiences a significant reduction in muscle tone immediately after birth, and this can clearly be felt especially during those first few months after delivery.
Luckily, this is only temporary. The vagina gradually regains its capacity for stretching over a few months, and sex usually goes back to feeling normal again. You can quicken this process by doing kegel exercises.
Another thing that many women often find unusual during those first few months after birth is the way their bodies react to sex.
For example, your breasts may leak when you orgasm. These reactions can either be mood killers for some people or totally take things to another level for others. It all depends on what you are into, I guess. I’m not one to judge.
Either way, it is important to understand that these are all perfectly normal hormonal responses that happen because your body is trying to balance itself out to go back to the state it once was in. Plus, there are measures you can take to prevent some of these things, like pumping before sex.
So what can you do about your sex drive?
A low sex drive immediately after birth is perfectly normal. I remember how sex was the last thing on my mind as I struggled to adjust to a whole new life with my son. This rings even truer for women who had particularly difficult pregnancies.
However, sometimes, the reason for your low sex drive could be far more serious. Things like negative post-partum body image or postpartum depression should not be taken lightly.
If you are not feeling confident in your postpartum body, or you are not feeling sexy anymore after having your baby, simply talking to your partner about it can go a long way in helping you start to feel good about yourself once more.
If the reason you are not feeling up to having sex is your lack of confidence in your postpartum body or the fact that you are not feeling sexy enough after baby, talking to your partner about it can go a long way in helping you feel better about yourself.
I believe that opening up and talking to your partner should be the number one thing that every woman should do before going back to regularly having sex after giving birth.
Sometimes, it is fear that holds us back. You may be afraid of having sex again, afraid that it will hurt or that you will get pregnant again.
You will find that talking to your partner about these fears and letting them know why you do not feel up to it will go a long way in alleviating these fears. Plus, it will bring you closer to each other and help your relationship in the long run.
Trust me, you will be surprised at how supportive they can be. Sometimes, communication is the best solution there is.
If you are showing signs of postpartum depression, like severe mood swings, overwhelming fatigue, loss of appetite, feelings of unhappiness and lack of joy, or even thoughts of harming yourself or your baby, you need to talk to your doctor about it. They will prescribe some meds or therapy, or both, and this should help.
That being said, you do not need to feel pressured to start having sex again. Don’t do it unless you feel you are absolutely ready to. So take all the time you need.
Until you are ready to have sex again, there are lots of other ways of maintaining intimacy. Explore all the options you can. Sometimes, simply spending some time together without the baby can feel better than sex. Take some time, for example, when baby is asleep, to just talk to each other.
The idea here is to simply look for ways to express affection, other than sex. Try this and you will realize your sex drive will return to normal in no time. Because to us, sex is also about all those moments leading up to it.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, do not forget to take care of yourself. Treat yourself well and show your body some love. Feeling good about yourself will make you feel confident, and that sexy confidence is an incredible aphrodisiac.
Will You Get Pregnant?
It is true that it is really easy to get pregnant after giving birth, especially for women who are not breastfeeding. The first ovulation can occur in as little as 6 weeks, even earlier in some women.
Like I mentioned earlier, breastfeeding is a natural form of birth control for breastfeeding mamas. This is why in many cases, you may not get pregnant for about four to six months after giving birth, even when you are having unprotected sex. However, this only applies if you are exclusively breastfeeding and haven’t started menstruating.
That being said, I know one or two women who got pregnant again less than six months after giving birth even though they were exclusively breastfeeding. So breastfeeding is definitely not a reliable birth control method.
If you do not want to risk another pregnancy, consider using more reliable birth control methods, such as barriers, implants, and IUDs.
Condoms are great options if you are looking for an immediate solution. Progestin-only contraceptives also work well. If you prefer an intrauterine method, such as a diaphragm or copper or some other form of fitted device, talk to your doctor about it first.
Also, if you prefer something that contains estrogen or progesterone, such as most pills and vaginal rings, talk to your doctor about it first, too.
Getting Pregnant Again
What if you want to get pregnant again?
Well, doctors advise waiting for 12 to 18 months after giving birth before getting pregnant again. Doing this reduces the risk of premature birth and a number of birth defects.
So try not to get pregnant too quickly by using anyone of the preventive methods above.
However, if, for one reason or the other, you really want to get pregnant before those recommended 12 months are out, talk to your health care provider first. They will be in the best position to understand your health history and recommend the best course of action.
Little known facts about sex after having a baby
It may not feel good at first. Your body has just undergone massive physical trauma, and your hormones are still readjusting. Nothing will feel like it used to. So be sure to lube up and be ready to laugh about the mishaps.
It is common to have a very low libido for several months after giving birth. This is your body’s way of stopping you from getting pregnant again.
If you have a vaginal delivery, things won’t be as tight as they used to be down there. This is totally normal, and everything will go back to the way they used to be soon. You can hasten this process by doing kegel exercises.
Sex will be even more important after the baby comes than it was before. When you live like roommates, you leave room for resentment and disconnection, and that is never a good thing. Sex will be the perfect tool for making the two of you feel closer to each other.
Once the baby comes, you will need to learn to take what you can get. There will be no more time to make sweet love the whole night. Prepare to be rudely interrupted at any moment, and adjust accordingly. Get creative and do it anywhere you can. Make quickies your new favorite thing, and have them in the bathroom, the kitchen, or even in the hallway. It will make your sex life even more interesting!
Still on the subject of taking what you get, you can decide to turn your baby’s nap time into your playtime. No one sleeps when the baby sleeps anyways.
It gets easier with each subsequent child. Meaning having sex after your first child is harder than after your second. New moms have a lot more readjustment to do, and this takes a toll on their sex life. Once your body gets used to the process, everything gets easier.
Finally, and this may be a little surprising, but sex after having a baby is the best sex you will ever have. Your body feels everything more, and the orgasms you’ll get are out of this world!
As a new mum, pregnancy and childbirth signal a new beginning in your life. They bring with them a lot of changes that can affect a lot of things in your life, including your sex life.
Since every woman is different, their sex lives get affected differently. The most important thing that you need to do is acknowledge these changes and communicate with your partner about them.
The decision to resume having sex again after giving birth is a very personal one, one that should be reached through communication and mutual understanding.
Sex after having a baby should be eased into. Take things slow and let your body set the pace. If you are not feeling up to it, you do not need to rush into it.
In the end, you will realize that the sex you have after giving birth will be the best sex you’ve ever had. Look forward to those toe-curling orgasms, because you’ve definitely earned them, mama!