Sex after Childbirth

Talking in detail about sex after childbirth is what we are going to be doing here. 

We shall be answering some of your biggest concerns  about sex post-childbirth: when should you start having sex, what can you expect- will sex be painful and will it be exactly the way it was earlier and questions about your libido.

So, read on for the answers for some of the most important questions in your mind now that you are able to pick up the threads of your life again after the birth of your baby.

How long should you wait before having sex?

Six weeks after childbirth is the time for strict healing after childbirth and in this time you should take care of yourself without indulging in any activity like sex that can increase chances of getting an infection down-under. 

You have the six -week postpartum checkup in which your doctor will make sure that your vagina and perineum have healed enough for sex to be safe and pleasurable.

Why you need to wait out this period after giving birth is simply because your perineum and vagina are not in a position to be animated right now. They have gone through a wringer already – whether you’ve had a vaginal or a C-section delivery and they need to just recoup and recover.

Your uterus and cervix also undergo significant changes during the process of delivering a baby, and they need time to heal.

What happens during this healing phase is that the lining of the uterus, especially the area where the placenta was attached to the foetus is susceptible to infection. 

Sex, douching, tampons, and anything inserted into the vagina can introduce bacteria, and cause an infection.

Like most new mothers, you too may be having a discharge of fluids from your uterus called lochia at this time which can last from 3- 8 weeks. The flow of lochia is a sign of your uterine lining healing. 

The lochia is bright red initially but when it is no longer this colour it signals that healing is near completion, and it's probably safe to have intercourse again. 

Can you have sex with stitches?

Ladies, the six- week no-sex moratorium doesn’t apply to you if you have a vaginal tear or have had an episiotomy or a cut while delivery. You may have to wait longer…

A vaginal tear, perineal tear, or an episiotomy, all of these may require stitches and may take longer than six weeks to heal, depending on the extent of the tear and laceration. 

Attempting sex too soon can be painful and you may also tear the stitches and possibly cause a rupture that can require another surgical procedure. 

In this case, your doctor is the best judge for when you can resume sexual relations. So, wait till she gives the all-clear.

Will it hurt the first time you have sex after childbirth?

Sex before healing of vaginal tears and episiotomy cuts is painful. You should definitely be waiting out the healing period before starting getting physical again. But what about sex after the six- week-long wait? Well, some women can experience discomfort when they start having intercourse again after delivering a baby even after six weeks.

You may not, but then you may also be one of those who does.

It's not uncommon for new moms to experience pain during sex or even arousal for months after childbirth.

What we at WHL recommend is that you take it very slow and choose a position that allows you to control the depth of penetration, for instance, woman-on-top or side-by-side so that you experience the minimum discomfort. 

Sometimes, this pain can become chronic and this is most often due to problems in the pelvic floor muscles which stretch between the pubic bone and the tailbone. 

These muscles get a good drubbing during a natural birth and sometimes they are not able to recover or recover more slowly than in others. What these muscles do is cradle your bladder, bowel, and uterus and these also help you control your urine, bowel movements, and sexual functioning. 

What you can do to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles is do Kegel exercises. If these don’t work, go to a physiotherapist who will help you strengthen these muscles and loosen muscles that are too tight to improve sex.

Can you have sex while breastfeeding? 

If you are breastfeeding, you will have low levels of estrogen during the postpartum period that can make your vaginal tissue thinner and drier. 

This will make sex more painful for you, for sure. You can use a water-soluble lubricant to ease any discomfort. What we suggest is that you steer clear of oil-based lubricants such as petroleum jelly products, especially if you're using condoms, as they can cause breakages. 

In case of severe dryness, your doctor may recommend a vaginal estrogen cream to restore moisture levels.

And that’s not all, you may also squirt milk from your breasts while having sex. What you can do about this is wear a bra with nursing pads or keep wiping with a towel or allow your partner to come up with a more innovative solution. 

Libido problems post- childbirth

Like most women, you may also not want to have sex after childbirth due to low libido, but rest assured, this lack of interest in sex won't last forever. 
Breastfeeding can also interfere with your sex drive due to lower levels of estrogen circulating in your bloodstream. This causes vaginal dryness and a lack of interest in general.
Of course, every woman is different, and many nursing mothers say that breastfeeding increases their libido instead of suppressing it.  Some even feel more sexual.

If you're not among these lucky few, though, remind yourself - and your man - that it's normal for a nursing mother's sex drive to take a detour into the slow lane before recovering. 

Will the sex be the same as before?

No, it most probably will not be. Why? Because after giving birth vaginally, it's normal for your vagina to be larger than it was before, and this is more pronounced after the birth of a large baby. You will thus miss the friction during sex.

Why the vagina becomes large and flaccid is because the pelvic floor muscles relax and Kegels are the only answer to fixing this problem.

You could try outercourse if you don’t want to go the whole hog. BTW, oral sex is safe a few days after delivery. If you have stitches from an episiotomy or a vaginal tear repair, make sure that your partner avoids contact with them.

In general, stay close to the clitoris and away from the vagina and the perineum and everything should be fine.

About the Author

Shikha Gandhi