You’ve delivered your baby, figured out the whole feeding and burping thing, and settled into something vaguely resembling a routine. You’re healed up and doing human activities again. Well, most of them. The six-week mark on the calendar is looming and you’re not quite sure how to feel…
That’s right, we’re talking about the first time you have sex after childbirth.
Whether you are excitedly counting down the days, or hoping your doctor will write a prescription for another six weeks, at some point from here on out you may resume sexual activity with your partner and need some idea of what to expect.
Am I Ready for Postpartum Sex?
Six weeks is really just a generalization. By this point, doctors rationalize, most painful inconveniences of birth such as bleeding, swelling, and stitches in the lady parts have all resolved themselves and the uterus and cervix have resumed their former positions. However, this is not always the case. Some women have healed up, stopped bleeding, and are raring to go after just a few weeks, while others require a few months to feel more like themselves and resolve physical and mental issues. Still others, who suffer from pelvic injuries and postpartum mood disorders after giving birth, are not fully able to enjoy sexual intercourse for several months or even longer. Listen to your body, because there’s no right or wrong answer here.
How to Prepare for Postpartum Sex
At your six-week postpartum checkup, your doctor or midwife will visit with you about your recovery from birth. They may ask you questions about how you are feeling, and your postpartum mental health. They may also do a physical exam – especially if you had any injury at birth requiring stitches – to determine how well you have healed physically. The subject of birth control should also come up. Then, you will probably be called “cleared” for sexual activity.
You should expect to have some gentle, water-based lubricant on hand. Vaginal dryness is very common in postpartum women, especially if you’re breastfeeding, thanks to all those hormonal changes!
Also, be prepared to get a little messy. While not everyone will experience this, the rush of oxytocin experienced during sex and orgasm may trigger a letdown of breastmilk. It’s very common to leak – or even spray – breastmilk during sex and you might want to have a towel under you if you’re a known leaker.
Doing the Deed
It’s fine to take things as slow as you need to, especially if you’re anxious. And nobody’s going to die if you don’t do full-on intercourse/penetration the first time, either. Take time for foreplay, getting to know each other all over again. Kiss and cuddle. Maybe that’s all you do the first time, that’s okay. Better to ease into it over time than have a painful or unsatisfying experience because you’re rushing to “do it” before the baby wakes up to feed!
If you experience pain during sexual intercourse after having a baby, which is not resolved by using lubricant and foreplay, this could indicate a pelvic floor issue caused by pregnancy and childbirth. This is not normal (and neither is peeing when we sneeze – thanks, mommy culture!) and we would love to urge you to ask your doctor for a referral to a local pelvic floor therapist in Colorado Springs, Denver, or wherever you are in Colorado.
With good communication to help your partner understand your physical and emotional needs surrounding sex after birth, you can work together toward an experience that is fun and pleasurable for you both. And once you find your groove again, you might even be able to get a little excited about a quickie before the baby wakes up…