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Created for Greatist by the experts at Healthline. Read more
Dear new moms,
You just spent 9 months growing an actual human before pushing it out into the world. Your body still feels a little strange (totally normally), but we know you’re wondering:
When can I get down with my partner? And will I ever feel like my old badass self in bed?
Whether you’re already in the mood for sexy time or you’re wondering if you’ll ever want sex again, we’ve got you. Here’s everything you need to know about sex after giving birth.
Patience, young Padawan. It takes time for your postpartum bod to shift back to normal.
Think about it: Your insides were stretched, things are still bleeding, and postpregnancy hormones are making everything sensitive — and not in a good way. Give yourself a hot minute to recover.
There’s no alarm that goes off when your body is ready for its first post-preggo sexcapade, but most doctors say to wait 4 to 6 weeks. Hold off for at least 2 weeks to avoid triggering an infection or hemorrhage.
PSA for C-section moms
Healing from surgery requires extra TLC. Wait until after your 6-week postpartum appointment to make sure you’re healed up and ready for sex. The same is true if you had a tear or a surgical cut (aka an episiotomy) during labor.
Any other factors?
Cool, cool — so your bun’s been out of the oven for 2 months and the doc says sex is a go. Everyone’s recovery is different, so consider these factors before jumping back into the sack (bonus points for talking them through with your partner):
- your energy (or exhaustion) level
- anxiety about sex or getting knocked up again
- vaginal dryness
- postpartum depression
Let’s keep it 100: Sex after birth can hurt a little — but not always, and not for everyone.
It is normal for sex to be kinda-sorta different at first.
In a 2005 study of 484 women, 83 percent reported sexual problems during the first 3 months after birth. Problems ranged from painful sex to painfully low libido.
There are two big reasons sex is different (temporarily!) after birth: hormones and physical changes to your vagina.
Hormones are tricky. They like to flood your body at the most inconvenient times, like when you’re getting down and dirty with your partner. Exhibit A: your boobs. If they spring a leak during orgasm, don’t freak out. Just blame it on the hormones.
Here’s a rundown of common sex issues after popping out a baby:
- dry, irritated vagina
- thin vaginal tissue (but it’s temporary!)
- healing from perineal tear or episiotomy
- pain and soreness
- feeling “loose”
- exhaustion (sleepless nights are a downer for your love life)
- low libido
Ummm, should I be seeing blood?
Deep breaths, mama! Postpartum spotting happens.
Low estrogen, a common side effect of breastfeeding and early postpartum life in general, causes vaginal dryness. And penetration without lubrication is painful AF. It can also cause bleeding. Invest in some lube to lower your risk.
If bleeding lasts more than 4 weeks or gets progressively heavier, call your doctor. You might have a tear that needs medical treatment.
Sex after c-section vs. vaginal delivery
A small study in 2014 suggested that folks who’ve had cesarean deliveries aren’t any more likely to experience sexual difficulties. The struggles with Sex Life 2.0 are equal-opportunity.
But your delivery method could affect which issues you’ll face. Here’s the breakdown:
Vaginal delivery: Your vag has a limited stretch capacity after giving birth, so it’s normal to feel a little loose and sensitive down there.
Cesarean delivery: Remember, you just had surgery! You’re in for some pain if you try sex before the incision has healed.
Both: Carrying a baby for 9 months affects your pelvic floor muscles, which support your uterus, bladder, small intestine, and rectum. Regardless of how you gave birth, things might feel a little weak in your pelvic region.
It’s totally normal to feel a little meh about sex right now. You’re sore, sleep-deprived, and feeling all the feels.
Another reason your libido might drop into the single digits? Hormones.
Pregnancy floods your body with estrogen and progesterone because they’re good for the baby. Those same hormones rev up your sex drive. When they drop back to normal after birth, it might feel like your libido is free-falling, too.
Nursing moms feel this even more, because breastfeeding lowers estrogen. Please don’t start popping estrogen pills, though — supplements could dry up your milk supply. #TheMoreYouKnow
Your hormones — and horniness! — should stabilize within a couple of months.
If you’re getting it on with a partner who has a penis, pick a birth control method ASAP.
It’s pretty surprising how quickly you can get preggers after giving birth. A 2011 review of studies found that most women who weren’t breastfeeding started ovulating within 6 weeks.
Maybe you’ve heard that breastfeeding is natural birth control. It’s actually up to 98 percent effective for the first 6 months —but only if you’re exclusively breastfeeding and you still don’t have a period.
When is it safe to get pregnant again?
Most doctors recommend waiting at least a year between pregnancies. If you don’t give your body enough time to recover, you may risk fetal development issues or a premature birth.
If you’re already dreaming of another bun in the oven, talk to your doctor. They can help you decide when it’s safe to conceive again.
What about birth control options?
It’s best to hit pause on sex for 4 to 6 weeks after giving birth. But for the risk-takers in the house: Please at least avoid birth control (BC) containing estrogen for the first month. After that, you’re good to go with your favorite BC.
Here are your options immediately after birth:
- condoms or diaphragms
- implants like etonogestrel (Nexplanon)
- medroxyprogesterone (Depo-Provera) injection
- progestin-only pills like norethindrone (Camila, Ortho Micronor)
As always, talk to your doc about the best BC method for you.
Let’s make sex great again. Follow these tips to keep pain levels low and excitement high as you ease into postpartum sex:
- Take a warm bath to relax beforehand.
- Pee first.
- Pop an OTC pain reliever before sex.
- Use a water-based lube like Blossom Organics Natural Moisturizing Personal Lubricant.
- Have fun trying different ways to get steamy with your partner — oral sex, mutual masturbation, new positions.
- Try to have sex when you’re rested and free of distractions.
Giving birth is rough on your pelvic floor. Good news: You can tone those stretched muscles with Kegels!
Here’s how to get Kegeling:
- Pee first.
- Imagine you’re sitting on a marble.
- Try to lift that marble with your vagina. Feel the way your muscles pull up?
- Hold the lifted position for 3 seconds.
- Relax for 3 seconds.
- Rinse and repeat (work up to 10 reps, 3 times a day).
Pregnancy is tough on your body. Give yourself a break and wait 4 to 6 weeks before getting hot and heavy with your partner again.
Sex during the first few months after having a baby might feel different. That’s OK — recovery takes time. Take it slow and use birth control.
If you’re experiencing extreme pain or heavy bleeding during post-birth sex, talk to your doctor.