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Tips and Tricks to Prepare for Postpartum Sex

By: Emily Fata

Postpartum Strength

Having sex for the 1st time after pregnancy can feel daunting, but it doesn't have to be! Here's how to make postpartum sex the best sex of your life.

When Can We Begin to Have Sex Again?

Whenever you and your partner feel that it's time for you.

While your doctor will likely give you the green light for intercourse 4 - 6 weeks after childbirth, that doesn't mean your post-pregnancy sex life will snap back to what it was.

Read on for common sex-after-pregnancy problems and the tips you need to get back in your grove.

Some suggest that it's a good idea to try making love before the doctor's visit so that you can discuss with them any problems you've encountered.

It's different for every couple. Some couples do resume their sex life within the first few months, while others, prefer to wait up to a year.  To each their own. Waiting longer doesn't mean that there's anything wrong with you - it just means that you need a little extra time to adjust. No biggy.  

There is no norm that you should aim for - just do what's right for you and your partner.

Why Does It Take SOOO Long?

New moms can feel reluctant or uninterested in intercourse for a variety of reasons. The most obvious is soreness from a tear or episiotomy or stitches. Even if you haven't had an episiotomy or a tear, the perineal area can feel bruised and sensitive for some time. It makes sense to let the wound heal and the stitches dissolve before having sex.

Rest, recovery, then back to action!

"There's a Good Reason 
You're Not into Sex After Birth"

Tiredness is another overwhelming factor. Looking after a baby 24 hours a day is exhausting physically and emotionally. You'll find that most nights when you get into bed all you want to do is sleep, instead of getting frisky with your partner.

If you're nursing, your breasts may be sore, heavy and prone to inconvenient let-downs. After a day of having your baby on your breasts, you may want them to be left alone at night.

If it makes sex more comfortable, try wearing your nursing bra or a tank top during sex. You can also pump or nurse your baby right before sex, so your breasts aren't as a full and achy. Take comfort knowing that as soon as you and your baby get into a breastfeeding groove, your breasts will become less sensitive - and painful.

Don't underestimate what your body is going through! Your hormones are changing dramatically, your uterus is shrinking, your C-section (or other birthing injuries) are healing, and you're likely exhausted and overwhelmed from caring for your new baby.

P.S. The hormone influx from breastfeeding can lower your libido, which is another thing to consider.

The perception of your body might also hold you back. It will feel changed by pregnancy and birth that you need time for it to recover before you feel like you again. Many women report that their libido is low during this time of their lives because it's hard for them to feel sexy.

Be gentle with yourself (or with your partner), significant changes are happening!

If both of you practice proper communication techniques, then it'll be much easier to get back into the swing of things.

Couple

What if My Partner Wants Sex Before I Do?

This situation does sometimes occur and needs love/understanding from partners to prevent it becoming a problem. As corny as it sounds, it's important to talk to each other about your feelings. Your partner might feel rejected if you don't want sex. It's up to you to explain the physical discomfort or anxieties that are holding you back.

"Postpartum Sex is Probably Not Going to Feel
 So Good at First - and That's Fine!"

Perhaps the first priority for you as a couple is to carve out some together time. Many couples complain that there just isn't enough time in their lives for each other during the first weeks and months after childbirth.

Words and cuddles can do much more to convey affection and emotion. You will both benefit from this closeness. On the physical side, sex doesn't have to mean full penetration either. The stimulation of touch alone can be highly pleasurable.

Are There any Practical Tips to Help with All These Problems?

There are several ways you can help yourselves:

  • A thick lubricant can be very helpful if your perineal area is feeling sensitive. It also helps with the vaginal dryness many women experience post-pregnancy.
  • Full sexual intercourse does not have to happen the first time you feel sensuous or aroused. It may be easier to think of just cuddling at first and gradually getting used to being touched in a sexual way
  • Whenever you have intercourse, choose a position that doesn't put too much pressure on wherever you are feeling sensitive. Beginning with the 'woman-on-top' allows you to take control of the rate and depth of penetration.
  • If tiredness is your biggest problem, try making love during your baby's nap time - when you're not too exhausted to enjoy it.
  • Do your pelvic floor exercises (we recommend Kegel balls) to bring back muscular tone to your vagina. Look out for some postnatal exercise classes to help get back into shape and raise your morale.
  • Eat well and drink plenty of fluids. Rest whenever you can. Looking after a new baby is extremely demanding. To have energy left over, you need to be looking after yourself carefully.

Are There Any Problems that I Should Worry About?

If intercourse continues to be painful, despite taking your time, then it might be worth talking to your GP about it. Sometimes, the way a tear or an episiotomy is stitched can cause long-term discomfort, which a further surgical procedure can rectify.

If you have vaginal discharge that smells unpleasant, you could have an infection that requires medical attention. If you are still losing blood from your vagina after 4 weeks (or have a sudden increase in blood loss), see your doctor immediately.