Six weeks. 42 days. 1,008 hours. That’s how long the average woman is expected to abstain from sexual intercourse after birth. And let me tell you, it’s a pretty quick turnaround for most of us.
Let’s set the picture. You just pushed out a watermelon from a hole the size of a lemon. You’ve just stopped bleeding, but your boobs are still leaking. You probably haven’t showered or slept in days and now someone wants to turn what was specifically an outgoing canal into an incoming one. It’s pretty much the least sexy thing in the world.
The first-time post baby is a big deal – even for seasoned moms. You’re still in recovery mode and in the process of establishing a new routine with your baby, so getting into the mood can be tough. Despite all of this, reconnecting with your partner is important. But before you jump back into things, here are a few things to consider before kickstarting your sex life back into gear.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says that while there is no set time for when women can have sex again after having a baby, women should consider waiting until after they have their first post-partum check up, which usually happens at the six-week mark. Bottom line, it’s best to have your doc’s blessing before you hop back into the sheets.
If you had a vaginal birth, sex prior to four weeks could leave your body open to infection, especially if you had natural tearing or an episiotomy. And, if you are still bleeding, your doctor will most likely want you to stop before you have intercourse again. If you’ve had a c-section, there needs to be time for your incisions to heal before you resume sex. In both cases, your uterus needs to heal from the placenta’s detachment. It’s basically like having an open wound.
So, what is post-partum sex going to feel like? In a word, uncomfortable. Your nether regions have been stretched to the hilt and are in the process of bouncing back. If you are breastfeeding, you are probably experiencing vaginal dryness due to fluctuating hormones. You may still be tender, so there may be some pain. Low estrogen levels may cause thinner vaginal wall tissue. And while all of this sounds pretty grim, there are things you can do to help, according to The Mayo Clinic.
- Use a lubricant (and lots of it) to ease dryness.
- Try an over-the-counter pain reliever to help with tenderness and muscle pain.
- Go slow. It’s not a race, it’s a marathon.
- Practice open and honest communication with your partner. You just birthed them a human, so they should be understanding.
- If your boobs are leaky, try pumping pre-sex. If you aren’t breastfeeding, keep breast stimulation to a minimum until your milk has dried up completely.
- Don’t be afraid to find a position that works for you — one that puts less pressure on tears and incisions. Supportive pillows may help.
- Make sure you are using a form of birth control because it’s impossible to know when you will ovulate again.
I personally was not ready to have sex six weeks post-partum, even though my doctor gave me the okay. And, I’m not afraid to admit that my hesitation stemmed from a psychological place more than a physical one. My first birth was traumatic with a long labor and a third-degree tear. I was scared about the pain and if my body would feel the same about sex as it had pre-baby. Not to mention if my body would feel the same to my partner as it did before. Luckily, I had a partner who understood that. We ended up having sex for the first time postpartum at about the ten-week mark. It was worth the wait for both of us.
All-in-all, life eventually gets back to normal, including in the bedroom department. Just remember to be patient with yourself. Your body has done some amazing things.