Pregnant for nine’ish months, labor and delivery and then healing. Having gone through all of this and now taking care of a baby, you may be anxious and eager to heat things back up in the bedroom again. One of the most common questions for couples today is when is it safe to have sex after pregnancy? Other women may be conflicted and worried because post-baby, their libido seems to have disappeared altogether. Let’s help set the record straight. Above all, however, it is important to follow your caregiver’s instructions about having sex after childbirth because you individualized situation may require special attention.
As a general rule, health care professionals encourage women to wait 4 weeks after having a baby to have sex. Again, this is completely dependant upon your individual birth experience. For instance if you have had a C-section, or have had a vaginal birth that requires stitches many practitioners advise to wait until the 6th week mark, and until after you have had a post natal check-up.
For routine vaginal births, you should wait at the bare minimum 2 weeks. If you are still bleeding or experiencing pain, you should wait until these two after birth effects cease to minimize your risks of bacterial or uterine infections, which can cause severe problems. Additionally, if you had to have an episiotomy or have stitches, you should wait until that area is completely healed. Not only will sex be painful, but also you risk opening up stitches and causing an elongated healing time.
There are some doctors who will tell you that you can have sex as soon as you feel ready. Their advice is to take it slow, and to listen to your body. If something doesn’t feel right, or is painful, or causes cramping or bleeding, your best bet is to give your body more time to heal.
Since low libido is one of the most common side effects post delivery, it may be 100% normal that you aren’t really in the mood for sex again. This can be compounded with the fact that you may worry about how soon you could become pregnant. While most doctors suggest that breastfeeding, mothers cannot get pregnant while breastfeeding, this is simply not true. As soon as you ovulate again, which could be as soon as 4 weeks after childbirth, the chance of pregnancy exists. The worries about getting pregnant can be one cause for your slow libido, so this is a great time to talk to your health care professional about birth control methods that are safe for you and your baby should you be breastfeeding.
Low libido post pregnancy is attributed to hormonal changes. Hormones AFTER birth are often very off balance as your body tries to produce milk and shrink your uterus back to its pre-baby size. This can also cause vaginal dryness which can make sex painful and uncomfortable, especially combined with perineal tearing and the stretching of the vaginal walls.
Another factor that affects libido is your personal levels of self-confidence. If you feel less than sexy after giving birth, you aren’t alone. Not only are you likely still hanging on to added baby weight, and retaining fluids, you also may be learning to love the new you, that may include stretch marks, and some mid-section weight gain. While this is absolutely a personal issue, chances are your partner does not see you as unattractive. In fact, many men are more attracted to their partners after childbirth than they were before. Of course, there are also men in this world who went through the birthing process with their partners and become a little ‘freaked out’ about resuming sexual relations and who may too be worrying about impregnating their partners too soon after the birth of a child.
Post partum depression, which experts believe shows up in around 60% of all women post-natally can also play a part in your lowered libido. As mentioned above, this is often due to hormonal changes, the stress of having a new baby to take care, and from all the changes occurring in your life at once.
Some women (and men) worry that their vagina will be stretched out after childbirth, and sex may not feel as good to them or their partners. Of course, this embarrassing question is Googled more than talked about at the doctor’s office, so let’s set the record straight. Yes, your vagina will be larger after a vaginal birth. While it may never return to it’s pre-birth size you can begin doing Kegel exercises to help re-strengthen the vaginal muscles. Ask your physician when it is safe for you to resume doing Kegel exercises and try to do them daily. Just like any muscle, your vagina will quickly bounce back and recuperate with some simple exercises.
The most important thing is to be true to your feelings and desires. If you are interested in kick starting your sex life, then do so only after talking with your doctor. If you don’t feel quite ready to have sex, then start with simple intimacy and on reconnecting with your partner in your new roles as parents first. Chances are as hormones settle down and your body begins to return to some semblance of normal, your libido will return. Sometimes, jumping back in the saddle of sexuality simply requires some time and patience on your part and on your partners part.