Most women experience considerable sexual changes following childbirth. This is completely normal. In this period, hormone levels change and women experience new emotions, demands and responsibilities
This can influence how much women feel like having sex, how often they have it, and how much they enjoy it. Men experience lifestyle changes which can influence their sex drive after their partner gives birth.
Changes in sexuality after childbirth are common, but few women discuss them and many have questions about when they should have sex, why they do or do not feel like having sex, and why they experience sex differently after childbirth.
When is intercourse safe?
Sexuality after childbirth traditionally, it was recommended that a woman shouldn’t engage in penetrative sex for six weeks after childbirth. Current recommendations are that women need only wait two weeks to resume sexual activity. The increased risk of infection, bleeding and pain associated with childbirth diminishes after two weeks. However, women who experienced tearing or underwent episiotomy may still be healing at this point and should wait some more.
Check with a health professional if you’re uncertain whether it is safe to resume sexual activity.
Pregnancy and contraception
While sex is generally safe after two weeks, you can fall pregnant (even if you’re breastfeeding) and contract sexually transmitted infections. Even if you want another child, it is recommended that you wait at least a year before falling pregnant again. To prevent pregnancy, many women choose to use condoms, which also protect against sexually transmitted infections. There are also hormonal contraceptives which are safe to take immediately after childbirth, even if you’re breast feeding.
Talk to a health professional for further advice.
Tips for returning to sexual activity
Talking is the most important thing you can do to return your sex life to normal, but you should also remember:
- Don’t force yourself to have sex too soon. If either you or your partner don’t feel like it, you should wait.
- Be intimate. Spend time kissing and cuddling, or just being close to each other, and you’re much more likely to become aroused.
- Spend time together with your baby, but also make sure you and your partner have time alone without the baby.
- When you’re ready to, have sex! But remember that you can get pregnant (even if you’re breastfeeding) and contract sexually transmitted infections, so take care.
- Make sure you have water-based lubricant handy.
- Make sure you have time and privacy to focus on sex. You are unlikely to feel like sex if your baby is screaming in the background.
- Experiment with a range of different sexual positions. A woman may prefer to start on top, so that she can control the intensity of penetration. Whatever you choose, make sure it is comfortable and remember you can stop.
- If at first you don’t succeed, try again! Don’t forget to talk to your partner about how you felt having sex.