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When After Giving Birth Can You Have Sex Again?

When you've just had a baby, you'll probably feel exhausted, emotionally all over the place, and sore — not to mention that "mother of all periods", lochia, which lasts an average of 33 days. Oh, and that newborn that will be up at all hours.

For many women, sex will really not feature very highly on their to-do list. There are indeed those who can't wait to get back to sexual relations and who, at just a week or so postpartum, wonder when they can share intimacy with their partner again. 

When can you have sex again after giving birth? Well, unless you are especially enthusiastic about getting back to business, I suggest you wait two important milestones out. The first is the end of lochia, or postpartum bleeding. The second is your six-week postpartum checkup. During this checkup, your doctor or midwife will see how you're doing and how you've been healing. If you have given birth vaginally, you may have tears or an episiotomy wound your healthcare provider wants to take a look at, and if you have had a c-section, your healthcare provider will need to see how your incision is doing. 

You'll most likely get the "all clear" to resume sex at this follow-up appointment. 

What if you just don't want to wait that long? Well, by all means, give your healthcare provider a call and see what they say. One lady I met ripped her episiotomy stitches to shreds while chasing after an escaped horse (really!). Something similar can happen during sex. Please just get that green light before you give sex a go, people!

Postpartum Sex And First-Time Moms: What Will It Be Like?

You'll probably feel somewhat like a virgin, emotionally, with some of the same questions — will it hurt? What will it feel like? How slowly should we take things? Should we just stick to kissing and cuddling?

You can increase your odds of good postpartum sex if you:

  • Wait until your healthcare provider gives you the green light. 
  •  Are both in the mood when you attempt it (obviously).
  • Start slowly. 

Meanwhile, you can also build up to that first time by engaging in kissing, cuddling, and even by focusing your activities on the male partner for a little while. 

Depending on how long you've given it and how you are doing physically, though, postpartum sex doesn't have to hurt or be less good. It may feel pretty much the same, in fact, though with the added "bonus" of extra sensitive breasts if you're breastfeeding.

That's the ideal scenario. Research, unfortunately, suggests that a mere 12 to 14 percent of couples have absolutely no issues with postpartum sex. 

  • Over half of all women find that they experience pain the first time they have sex after having a baby. 
  • 41 percent still have pain during sex three months after their babies were born. 
  • 19 percent still have pain a year after their baby's birth. 
  • Fatigue, too, prevents many new mothers from enjoying sex. 

While birth injuries are, unsurprisingly, the main risk factor for pain during sex in the postpartum period, breastfeeding is also associated with a lower libido and less sexual satisfaction. 

The good news? Sex will get better again — a lot better. Give it time, enjoy each other, explore each other, and be mindful of each other's needs. Stop when you experience pain, of course, and instead shift your attention to things that do feel good. 

If you still have pain beyond the three-month mark, do get in touch with your healthcare provider and tell them about it. Don't suffer in silence or give up on sex! In fact, it's quite useful to schedule a routine three-month checkup in addition to that six-week checkup that is so common — just so you can discuss any issues you may be facing.

Emotional Issues To Watch Out For

Research shows that mothers of young children have less sex than non-mothers, and that should come as no surprise. In the early days, you may be awoken by infant crying. Later on, little hands may knock on your bedroom door. And that's before you get to the part where being a parent is emotionally involved enough that it can take quite a bit of your energy. 

Emotionally, you and your partner are adjusting to your new roles as parents. Your relationship may change quite a bit during this new phase of your lives, and it will take both of you a while to make sense of that. 

Those couples who don't struggle with physical pain during postpartum sex but with emotional issues or low libido may benefit from seeing a (sex) therapist.

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