Expecting a newborn is a special time, all about daydreaming of a new life and new chapters. Between choosing a name and playing the horny mommy game (many women enjoy physical intimacy while pregnant, despite what one might think), you have no time to prepare yourself for what’s to come. It’s hard to be ready for the mayhem of the happiest days that are sprinkled with body aches, exhaustion, and emotional turbulences. Having a baby is always a true bliss, except when it isn’t.
By the time your wounds heal and you organize your endless feeding and sleeping schedule, it’ll dawn on you. When was the last time you had sex (Was it pregnant sex?)? When was the last time you wanted to? Is it safe to do it? What happened to that lustful preggy? More importantly, how can you summon her back from Zombieland?
Here are the answers to those burning questions.
How Long Do You Have to Wait?
There is no definitive rule on how long you should wait to have sex after birth. Most doctors, however, would recommend women to abstain for at least four to six weeks following vaginal delivery. Similar applies to women who had a cesarean section. Having sexual intercourse in the first couple of weeks could cause serious complications. No matter the method of delivery, your body needs to heal before you can have postpartum sex.
Furthermore, pregnancy and childbirth are conditions that affect both the body and soul. Your complete bone and organ structure shift to adapt to growing another person. It takes time for them to get back to their initial position.
It’s not just your body either. Your hormones will also work as round-the-clock mood swingers, switching from cheerful mommy dearest to an emotional wildfire. They will even affect how you feel down there, which can greatly diminish your sex drive and influence the overall (s)experience.
So it is a process. If you feel like it, you should have sex as soon as it is safe. But if you need more time to restore, by all means, take it.
How Does Delivery Affect Sex?
The numerous physical post-delivery issues might differ depending on the labor. Women who had a C-section will need to take care of the surgical wound and wait until it heals completely. Vaginal childbirth means you will possibly have a perineal tear or episiotomy. This is an incision made during the delivery that needs to heal entirely before you can have sex after the baby comes.
Even after your wounds heal, sex won’t be a breeze. You might feel pain and tightness for some time. Pain-killers might help (avoid aspirin, since it can cause bleeding!), but you can also combine them with cold compresses or warm baths.
Additionally, hormones will cause vaginal tenderness and dryness. Thinning of vaginal tissue and a loss of its elasticity are normal side-effects of childbirth, but they also affect your sexual experience. Once you’re ready to start having sex again, help yourself with some lubricants if you experience vaginal dryness.
Most of us will gladly show off our pregnancy boob jobs. Some would even make peace with those “loose” muscles in a postpartum abdomen. But not many will expect that after delivery, they will look like they’re still pregnant — only crankier.
Body issues, unfortunately, come simultaneously with postpartum hormonal changes, which can affect your overall mood and libido. If you add chronic fatigue to the equation, you will understand why renewing your sex life is much more complicated than calling a babysitter and cranking up a bottle of champagne (which is still a good idea!).
How Soon Can You Get Pregnant Again?
There is a common understanding that you cannot get pregnant immediately after having a baby. It’s not just that your body needs to heal or that everything around you is constantly working against your having sex. Your menstrual cycle is connected to breastfeeding (yes, it’s hormones again!). So as long as you’re breastfeeding exclusively, you will prolong the return of your period for up to six months after the delivery. However, some research shows that you can get pregnant even three weeks after giving birth, regardless of nursing or your period.
So it depends on your ovulation. One study showed that women who did not breastfeed had their first ovulation around six weeks after labor. But it can come even earlier. It is, therefore, recommended to use some kind of contraception if you want to avoid getting pregnant again too soon.
Is Bleeding During Sex Normal After Delivery?
Aside from pain and soreness in the wound area, you will also experience vaginal bleeding. This is because your body is still discharging the leftover uterine tissue weeks after the delivery.
Some women experience bleeding after sex, especially if they engage in sexual intercourse too soon after the labor. In the beginning, this may be a normal part of post-childbirth recovery that increases after penetration. However, if it’s been more than four weeks and you continue bleeding after sex, you will have to see your doctor.
In normal circumstances, almost ten percent of women can bleed after intercourse, unrelated to labor. Even then, you would check for possible infections or injuries. However, a woman recovering from childbirth should take additional precautions. Although your untouched libido is a good thing, you may have a tear or irritation that needs treatment. Until you’ve taken care of this, you should avoid having sex.
Effects of Pregnancy and Delivery on Libido
Some women say that pregnancy has changed their sex life for the better. Pregnancy can make us more self-aware and confident and even rearrange our lady parts in a way to make the orgasms more intense. However, most women face numerous problems in renewing their sex life, and their body issues and hormonal changes seriously impact their sex drive.
You’re also facing organizational issues. The baby dictates your days and pace, and even if your body would let you, it’s hard to find the time for sex. Your body aches in places you didn’t know existed. You’re incontinent and constipated at the same time. You’re constantly tired and sleep-deprived. You don’t feel sexy. Your libido has left the room, locked the door, and swallowed the key.
But whatever the troubles, you will have to find the strength to overcome them. Your significant other is riding on their own roller coaster. That’s why you should seize any moment you have to get together and connect intimately.
Use any chance to spend time alone, without the baby. Talk about your worries and issues. As far as sex goes (or it doesn’t), it can be a good chance to experiment with other forms of intimacy and sex techniques.