Of all the thing on your to do list after having a baby, resuming sex with your partner can understandably fall pretty low on the priority list. Between your fluctuating hormones, your healing vagina, your needy baby, your fatigue, and your lack of personal lubrication, sex can feel more like a chore than the pleasurable experience it was once upon a time. So here are a few short thoughts on resuming sex after baby.
Take it easy.
Your first few sexual encounters after having a baby should not be an all out party. Vaginal stitching (if you have it) can take several weeks to heal, and your partner should be very gentle on you until you feel you can handle a more rigorous encounter. Cesarean scars can take a couple months to heal, so be creative about positioning so that you can be safe.
Things may feel different.
Your hormones change the way that you experience everything, including physical sensations. If you are breastfeeding, your breasts may feel particularly tender. This may be a good thing or a bad thing – either way is normal! During birth, the pelvic floor gets stretched and slightly weakened, so penetration may feel slightly different. Differently is ok – and it can even be exciting!
Kegels can help.
As soon as you start to feel ready, start practicing Kegels. With the pelvic floor slightly weakened from pregnancy and birth, Kegels can add tone that can make sex more comfortable and pleasurable.
Tell your partner if something is not working for you or if it is causing you pain. What worked well for you only a few weeks ago may now be uncomfortable. Make sure you are communicating a lot during the postpartum phase as your body adjusts to a new normal.
Don't be afraid to lubricate.
In the postpartum period, hormones suppress a woman’s ability to self-lubricate, particularly if you are breastfeeding. That does not need to slow you down – just use what tools are available to you and make the best of it!
If you had stitches – either vaginally or from a cesarean, they can take several weeks to heal. Sex can still be resumed during the healing time provided you are able to be comfortable. Trying different positions during this time can be helpful.
There is no "expected time."
There is no “expected time” that a couple should resume sex. If you are comfortable a couple weeks after birth, go at it! If you are still 8 weeks (or more) after birth and still not feeling ready to resume sex, that doesn’t mean that something is wrong with you. The first several months with a new baby are incredibly challenging and if intimacy is slow to start, that is ok.
Make the best of it!
Sex after baby can sometimes be new and confusing – sometimes even comical. Laugh through the adjustments as you and your partner figure things out!
Some women experience pain during intercourse in the postpartum period. Some of this is normal, particularly as stitches are healing, but pain should not last for several months. If you are experiencing pain during intercourse after baby, the best person to visit a woman’s physical therapist. A woman’s physical therapist is an expert at the female pelvis, its ligaments, muscles, and complications with it. A woman’s PT has the best tools to find what it is that is causing your pain and help you correct the problem.
Do what works best for you and your partner. During the postpartum and newborn phase, be flexible and patient with yourself. In time, your sex routine will reach a balance with the rest of your new life with baby.