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Remember when you were wondering what it would be like to lose your virginity? You were probably excited and scared at the same time, because you weren't sure what to expect. Resuming sexual relations after having a baby isn't completely unlike that very first time. You have no idea what it will be like, and have plenty of awkward questions you might be embarrassed to ask.
Will it be any different? Will you or your partner feel less, or could it actually hurt? Will a baby that wakes up many times a night interfere with your sex life? Can you expect any weird situations?
As a mom of two and a woman who previously wondered whether sex would still be OK after giving birth, I have been through this before — and I'll be your guide for today.
When Can You Do It?
"Do you think it's safe to do it?" a close friend texted me when she was two weeks postpartum. We share pretty much everything, but that message came as a bit of a surprise to me. At that point, most new moms are exhausted, have episiotomy wounds, vaginal tears or c-section incisions, don't have time to even think about sex, and are still in the middle of lochia. Then, there are those postpartum hormones that can interfere with your libido.
If you are like my friend and you can't wait to resume sex after giving birth, that's great! It's also possible that you're not even interested in finding out when you can do the deed again — and that's fine too.
Lochia, that pesky postpartum bleeding that some women call the "mother of all periods", goes on for four to six weeks. When your baby's placenta detaches, that leaves a large spot in your uterus that's vulnerable to infections. The bleeding and pain are one reason to wait a while, but the potential risk of infection is another powerful factor. The six-week postpartum visit conveniently coincides with the end of lochia for many women.
Waiting until your OBGYN gives you a thorough physical examinations — and sometimes an ultrasound to see what is going on inside your uterus — will give you peace of mind. Once your doctor says you can safely do it, you don't need to worry.
Do take it slow and make sure to stop if anything hurts. New moms who experience persistent pain or discomfort during sex should always get that checked out, especially if they had any kind of stitches after they gave birth. Keep in mind that your discomfort can also be caused by stress, though, and try to relax. If things don't go according to plan one day, simply give up and try again another day. You'll get there eventually.