Congratulations! You’re pregnant or you’ve given birth recently and you’re wondering ‘how much is all of this going to change our sex life?’ If this is your second or subsequent baby, maybe you want to feel more prepared this time, and good for you!
First of all, you are amazing! You gave birth to a tiny human! Your body does change, but remember, your skin has elasticity and it will generally all return in time. The recommendation for returning to sex is 4-6 weeks after birth, which is a reasonable amount of time but if it’s a few weeks or months more that’s completely fine. It’s all about what you’re comfortable with. Please contact your health care provider for advice if you have any complex needs physically or mentally.
If you’ve had a cesarean all of the below applies – just ensure you seek medical advice if you have any problems with the wound. It’s still advised that you wait the 4-6 weeks to avoid infection, or longer depending on if the wound has healed. If you’re still feeling tender, take special care around the early months to allow the muscles to heal and have fun thinking up what positions might be best to keep pressure away from your scar.
It can be a really important reconnection for some, so don’t underestimate how it will make you feel, as a couple and within yourself. Loving sexual contact releases oxytocin, the love hormone, and endorphins, both feel-good, mood-boosting hormones. So if you’re feeling tired and low in mood, making the time for this might really be worth it.
Here are 9 tips to help ease you into sex after birth, if you’re feeling the need to get back on track:
1. Buy some lubrication
Honestly, if you haven’t tried lube before then now is definitely the time to try it. You don’t have to go expensive, but there are so many options to choose from. Something water-based and sensitive would be ideal; there are some fantastic intimate moisturisers out there with prebiotic and rejuvenating properties too. Lubrication helps sexual activity to feel more comfortable by reducing friction but also can really enhance pleasure. Using lube might not be something you’ve done much of before, but to really enjoy postpartum sex this is a great way to start.
2. No intercourse rule
If you’re nervous about having sex for the first time after giving birth, it might be good to establish a ‘no intercourse rule’ for a period of time. It can be so fun exploring other sexual activities, and getting intimate doesn’t have to be straight back to intercourse. Try a naked cuddle and build up to it. When you get to the point of wanting it, you’ll be raring to go!
3. Make the time
There’s no denying making time for anything when you’ve first had a baby is hard work. Where on earth can we fit this in?? The truth is, you might not get round to it for the first few months! It’s a really good idea to discuss and make a mental note before the birth, of around how many months it might be before you both consider working up to physical time together. This way you both know where you stand, and at what point it’s time to discuss the changes that have happened. It’s also good to book in your time, as a ‘date night’ one night a week. It may not go to plan, but try again another evening. Plus, TV can wait, don’t expect to be successful in this after 11pm if you’re tired!
4. Take it slow
However you want to approach this is completely up to you. It’s your body that’s been through this and it’s your choice. It may not feel the same in those first few months as your skin returns to normal, but rest assured as time passes you will feel confident in your body again. One change that you might want to think about, though, is leaky boobs! Yes, they might leak during sex so make sure you’re comfortable with how to incorporate that, or keep your bra on for a little while, until you establish feeding more and your milk production evens out.
Those first few intimate sessions it might feel hard to switch roles. You’re just learning to become a mum to this new little person, and suddenly you want to be a sexual being again too. This is another reason to take it slow. What can you do to get in the mood? Maybe trying intimate but non-sexual contact to begin with would help, like massaging each other while you relax and setting the mood by lighting candles. Don’t forget, oxytocin is the love hormone, it likes a romantic environment so setting the scene and making the effort might be a game changer. Chances are you won’t be switched on to sex quite as quickly as before birth, and that’s fine. Explore what does switch you on to that side of yourself, and be patient, it can take time.
5. Tell your partner how you feel
This one might sound obvious, but sometimes it’s difficult to have this kind of conversation, especially when you’re tired and have other things on your mind. He may understand extremely well or he may just not have thought of the length of time this may effect you for. Communication is key here! Let him know that it might take a while for you to get in the mood because you’re getting used to becoming a mum, that you do want to be told your sexy or beautiful again if you’re just not feeling it. Have a cry if you need to! Be open. You will get back to your old self, but at this point acknowledging the way you feel may help the transition.
OK, so maybe you’ve been really good at this for the first month and then it’s all fallen downhill. If you’re feeling down, take a moment to remember who you are. If you like underwear then try treating yourself to a new set. Did you know there are some sexy and comfortable feeding bras out there? Spend some time shaving or waxing if you need to! Use your entire drawer of grooming products you hardly use. Wash your hair and use a hair mask, any little thing you can access to get some sense of looking after you.
7. See your GP
The advice for having sex again postpartum is 4-6 weeks for everything to heal. It’s a really good idea to wait for this to avoid infection. Also something to consider at this time is contraception, as your doctor may want to discuss this with you at your 6 week appointment. It’s still possible to get pregnant very soon after giving birth, even when breastfeeding so do be aware of this.
If you’re using lubrication for dryness and are well past this 4-6 week period, please consider seeing your GP if you have persistent pain or bleeding.
8. ‘You’ time
If you’re really struggling to come to terms with your new postpartum body and don’t want your other half down there, have a feel of it yourself. If you can re-introduce yourself using some lubrication and maybe a vibrator, it might get you feeling more confident about your needs. If you struggle to get time for yourself in bed, try the bath or shower. Make it secret time for you to get to know your body and love it again!
Laughing releases oxytocin! Oxytocin is the love hormone and what better way to initiate sex than to laugh together. Watch a funny and slightly sexy film, make rude jokes that you haven’t made about each other in years. Laughing about awkwardness is also great as it just diffuses the atmosphere and releases tension.
Sex isn’t usually a priority right after birth, and that’s okay! It might be a process you don’t want to rush. Remember, it’s your body that has changed and so this process is completely up to you. Starting slow and working at a pace that you’re comfortable with is the main thing here, and if you get there quicker than anticipated then good for you! What’s important at this time is your connection as a couple and they way you feel about yourself.