Sex After Childbirth: Rediscovering Intimacy and Your Body

Having a baby can change how you feel about yourself physically and emotionally. Things that may have been important to you before becoming a parent get quickly thrown to the wayside, which is totally normal. 

Sex after childbirth will likely look different because you are different, but take heart. There are plenty of ways to rediscover intimacy (solo and with your partner) and learn to appreciate your new body for being an impressive temple.

Set Your Own Timeline for Intimacy After Childbirth

Although your body may be physically ready for intimacy, that doesn’t mean you have to get back to business. Communicate openly with your partner about how you feel and set your own timelines for intimacy after childbirth. It’s your body, and how soon you return to being sexually active is up to you, so don’t be afraid to set and keep firm boundaries. 

How Soon Can I Have Sex After Birth?

Physically, everyone’s healing journey after childbirth is different. More specifically, how you gave birth can impact the length of time it may take you to heal. 

Vaginal Birth

If you pushed an entire human being out of your vagina, congrats! Although the human body is amazing, it takes time to rebound. If you delivered vaginally, most professionals agree that it takes around four to six weeks to be physically ready for sex again. 

For most people, this can feel far too soon — there is no one-size-fits-all timeline, so take this as permission to take as much time as you need.

C-Section Delivery

Although we don’t often refer to it this way, a c-section (cesarean) is major abdominal surgery. There’s a reason that your OB puts that drape up! While you may not think about recovering from a c-section the same way you’d recover from a vaginal delivery, it requires even more time and energy.

Yes, your vagina didn’t have a baby pass through it. Still, you need to avoid any strain or pressure on your abdomen, which is why gynecologists recommend six weeks postpartum before attempting intimacy again. Patience is a virtue, right?

Is Having A Low Sex Drive Normal? 

Absolutely! Most people would argue that not having a low sex drive after having a baby is less common. A lot is going on with your body after delivery, from significant hormonal shifts to physical discomfort and postpartum bleeding. These factors can make intimacy very low on many new parents’ priority lists.

The hormonal changes, such as a drop in progesterone, are one of the most significant physical factors impacting your postpartum sex drive. After you give birth, the body's progesterone levels (along with estrogen levels) plummets. 

At the same time, the level of other hormones like oxytocin and prolactin (which can impact vaginal dryness) starts to rise. The result is that your sex drive may decrease, and your ability to get physically aroused can become more difficult. 

How Does Delivery Affect Sex?

So how does the physical act of childbirth affect sex? Let’s look at what sex can look like after childbirth.

Will It Hurt?

Penetrative sex after childbirth shouldn’t hurt, although it might be slightly uncomfortable at first. If you experience painful sex after giving birth, especially for the first few times, you may need to use more lube or check with your doctor to rule out any physical issues. 

Your pelvic floor just went through a massive trauma (despite it also being a beautiful miracle). Remember, pain is your body’s way of trying to tell you something, so don’t ignore it or write it off as a normal part of sex after childbirth.

Will It Feel Different?

Chances are, sex after childbirth will differ from how it felt before you had a baby. Your body has gone through an incredible, life-changing transformation, after all. 

You’re also likely to be hyperfocused on every sensation, making it hard to relax. If you’re worried, consider inserting an Intimacy Melt into your vagina 30 to 60 minutes before being intimate. 

What About Birth Control?

If you’re not ready to get pregnant again right away, you’ll need to use some form of birth control, even if you’re breastfeeding. Speak to your OB-GYN (doctor of obstetrics and gynecology) or healthcare provider about what contraceptives are available to you (IUDs are a great choice), or consider family planning if you’d prefer to stay away from anything hormonal. 

What if I’m Not Interested in Sex After Childbirth?

Giving birth is a big event. Not being interested in having sex after childbirth is a normal part of the process and completely understandable given all the changes you’ve experienced. As we said earlier, setting your own timeline for being intimate after having a baby is crucial. 

If you’re not feeling ready for sex, your sexual desire is low, or you’d rather take it slow and stick with other, non-penetrative sexual activities, that’s okay. Give yourself the time and grace to re-explore what intimacy means for you — the last thing you should do is anything you’re not ready for. 

Sex After Childbirth Is Important

We would never tell you what to do with your body; it’s yours and yours alone to do with what you want. However, reinvigorating your connection with your body is crucial for remembering your importance as an autonomous human being with wants, desires, and needs. 

Having a baby can make you feel disconnected from your own body (you may even feel like a breastmilk machine at this point), and spending time pleasuring yourself or getting intimate with your partner can remind you what you’ve been missing. 

You deserve to take time out and love yourself — get those cuddles in. We’re better parents when we’re fully realized human beings.

Why Quickies May Be Your New Best Friend

Having a new baby is a lot of work, usually on not a lot of sleep. Your schedule has probably exploded, and you barely have time to shower or take a much-needed nap. You’re probably not going to have the time or energy for hours-long sex sessions anymore. 

Intimacy isn’t about the time you spend doing it; it’s about your commitment to connect with your partner and yourself. A quickie is better than nothing, and our Quickie Kit can help you make the best of your time. 

Sex After Birth May Be Better Than You Expect

We understand the hesitancy to re-engage with sex after childbirth, but if your concern is that you’re not going to enjoy it as much — have faith! Sex after having a baby will likely be way better than expected, especially if you take the time to be physically and mentally ready.

There are a few keys to keep in mind to make your experience as pleasurable and fulfilling as possible:

  • Actively communicate with your partner — before, during, and after sex
  • Engage in plenty of foreplay to get you both physically and mentally in the game
  • Use lots of lube
  • Don’t make orgasm the goal; focus on being fully present in your body
  • Try new positions to find what is the more pleasurable and the most comfortable
  • Understand and accept that your body has changed and that it’s okay. Embrace your body for exactly how it is, and don’t get hung up on things that don’t matter, like stretchmarks (spoiler alert - everyone has them, even people who haven’t had babies).

Takeaway

Sex after childbirth will feel different, but that doesn’t mean it has to be scary or less fulfilling. Setting your own timeline, listening to your body, and understanding why physical changes have occurred can help you make the best of your postpartum sex life. 

Having children doesn’t mean you have to give up on being intimate, and you deserve to set aside time for yourself and your partner just as much as you did before (and maybe even more now).

Sources:

A Partner's Guide to Pregnancy | ACOG

THE NEUROENDOCRINOLOGICAL ASPECTS OF PREGNANCY AND POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION | PubMed

Postpartum Female Sexual Function: Risk Factors for Postpartum Sexual Dysfunction | PubMed

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