Have you recently had a baby? If so, congratulations! While becoming a parent can be incredibly fulfilling, it also significantly changes your priorities. But, through all the chaos, it’s essential to set aside time to take care of yourself.
Your sex life may inevitably change after having a baby, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Just because you’re a parent now doesn’t mean that’s all you are — you can still be a sexy vixen who drives your partner wild.
How Long Should I Wait To Have Sex After Birth?
There is no set amount of time you “have to” wait to have sex after giving birth; it’s more about your comfort level and readiness (and only yours — don’t let your partner talk you into it before you’re ready).
However, many healthcare providers recommend that you try to hold off for at least four to six weeks after having a baby, regardless of whether you had a vaginal or cesarean (C-section) birth. Those few weeks (especially the first two) are when you’re most likely to have a complication. Staying celibate gives your body time to heal.
How Do I Know I’m Ready For Sex Postpartum?
Readiness for sex after having a baby is more than waiting for your bleeding to stop. Before returning to sexual activity post-baby, check in with yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Take a close look at your motivation for wanting to hop back into the sack with your partner. Are you feeling pressured to do it, or are you putting pressure on yourself because you think you should be ready? Are you just missing intimacy with your partner and don’t know any other ways to get it back?
Try cuddling that slowly works into a little more than cuddling. If you have doubts or worries at any point, you may not be ready, and that’s okay. Plus, cuddling on its own can be a fulfilling way to get some of that missed intimacy we mentioned.
Why Do I Have a Decreased Libido?
Probably because you’re exhausted, mama!
Having a new baby causes a serious shift in your sleep schedule, especially if breastfeeding on demand. It can be hard to get turned on when you’re always tired, and it’s extra tough to feel attractive when you barely have a moment to yourself.
There may also be a hormonal reason for your lack of interest in having sexual intercourse with your partner. Prolactin, the same hormone that increases your breast milk production, also naturally suppresses the amount of estrogen in the body. While prolactin is excellent for your growing baby (if you choose to breastfeed), it’s not so great for your libido.
Plus, not having the urge to have sex all the time may be nature’s way of keeping you from getting a bun in the oven again too quickly. Most healthcare providers recommend waiting for a minimum of 18 months postpartum before becoming pregnant again to give the body time to recover.
Is My Vagina Supposed To Hurt During Postpartum Sex?
While sex should never be painful (unless that’s specifically what you’re going for), up to 85.7% of people experience pain when having vaginal sex for the first time postpartum due to dryness from lactation, scar tissue, pelvic floor spasm, decreased libido, and increased stress and tension.
Yes, the human body is amazing, but the baby-having process can also be pretty traumatizing to the body.
Postpartum care and following your doctor or midwife’s advice are essential. The pelvic floor muscles take one of the biggest hits, so you may notice penetrative sex just feels different now that you’re postpartum.
Pro Tip: Ask your physical therapist about doing pelvic floor exercises, like Kegels.
Vaginal discomfort with postpartum sex is even more likely if you needed an episiotomy or had any perineal tearing during delivery.
If you’ve always experienced painful sex and have had physical issues ruled out by your healthcare professional or gynecologist, our Intimacy Melts may be able to help. When inserted into the vagina up to an hour before intercourse, our Intimacy Melts can help ease discomfort and enhance pleasure.
How Does Breastfeeding Affect Postpartum Sex?
Lactation can significantly affect your postpartum sex life. In addition to the potential awkwardness of your breasts leaking when getting intimate with your partner, the biological impact of breastfeeding can also take a toll.
Breastfeeding can change how you feel about your breasts, especially for first-time moms. No matter the cup size, your breasts switch from helping you feel attractive to providing sustenance for another human being. The increase in oxytocin during breastfeeding can also lead to milk ejection during orgasm, which can be a pretty big shock if you’re not expecting it.
It can be hard to flip that “new parent” switch in your head, so be patient with yourself. It’s okay to make your breasts off-limits to your partner while breastfeeding — just make sure you clearly communicate that to your partner.
The hormones associated with breastfeeding can also affect your postpartum sex life, as lactation causes hormonal changes. It can naturally decrease your estrogen levels, negatively impacting the amount of lubrication you can make even when sexually aroused. This is why lube can be your postpartum BFF.
How Do I Prepare for Postpartum Sex?
We’ve talked about everything that can make postpartum sex more difficult, but proper preparation can make a big difference. We’ve got a few tips for getting back to having enjoyable sex with your partner.
While getting back to physical intimacy can be great for your relationship, building trust and emotional intimacy are even more crucial. We can never say enough about the importance of good communication with your partner.
After all, you’re raising a whole human being together. Discussing postpartum sex concerns with your partner is a piece of cake in comparison (if it isn’t, there’s no shame in seeing a counselor or couples therapist for a little guidance).
Be Kind to Yourself and Your Partner
The postpartum period comes with many changes for you and your partner. Life is permanently different, and even though it’s often a time of great joy, this time can also be stressful.
Be kind to yourself and give yourself the grace and understanding to change your mind about being ready to get intimate again.
Don’t forget to extend that kindness, grace, and understanding to your partner. Even though they didn’t physically have the baby, they’re going through their own shifts. Remember that they love you and want to support you; they may just not know how to do that. Learn to communicate and tell your partner exactly what you want, how you want it, and when you’re ready.
Seek Professional Help
We understand that not everyone can seek medical care when they need it. However, if you’re hesitant about resuming your sex life or having concerns, your best bet may be to speak with a professional.
Ask your OB-GYN for advice specific to your body during your postpartum checkup. It is also an excellent time to ask about your birth control options (and no, breastfeeding is an effective form of postpartum birth control, despite what you may have heard).
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), ovulation can begin just a few weeks after having your baby.
Don’t Skimp on the Lube
Vaginal dryness is a part of the postpartum experience for some new moms. But you don’t have to let that stop you from being intimate with your partner when you’re ready. If you’re getting your sexual desire back but your body isn’t cooperating, adding an all-natural lube (like our Intimacy Sex Oil) can make a big difference.
Schedule a date night with your partner, take it slow and embrace foreplay, or just fool around in the backseat of the car as if you were first dating. The art of arousal is just as much mental as physical (perhaps even more), so pair some quality mental stimulation with lube and enjoy!
Postpartum sex can be intimidating, especially for the first time. But, like every major change in life (and you’ll likely go through plenty of them as a parent), approach it with awareness, sensitivity, and a few tips from those who’ve already “been there.”
It’s difficult to predict how childbirth can affect your sex life, but there are ways to prepare you and your partner and create a plan where you feel most comfortable and empowered.
Sex and Breastfeeding: An Educational Perspective | PubMed
Frequency, severity and persistence of postnatal dyspareunia to 18 months postpartum: A cohort study | PubMed
Postpartum Birth Control | ACOG
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