Having sex for the first time after childbirth is a lot like losing your virginity. It’s awkward, it’s messy and yeah, it hurts a bit.
Firstly, think back on all the things your body (and vagina) have gone through to get that small person out into the world. Depending on what kind of birth you ended up with, you’re dealing with stretching, tears, surgical cuts, and stitches all of which need adequate time to heal before you even consider getting back on the horse, so to speak.
But what are we talking? Days? Weeks? Months?
Well, it’s all up to the individual as to when she feels ready to get back into intimacy in the bedroom but from a medical point of view, you should give your body at least a month to recover.
“I always suggest that women wait until their postnatal check up and until post-partum bleeding has finished (to avoid any risk of infection),” says Sydney-based midwife Krystal Dirkins, “for most women that would be around the six-week mark.”
“It’s also important to tell women that sex for the first few times after childbirth will hurt. I’ve had women come to me in tears thinking things will never improve or that they are somehow damaged from the birth. That’s not true. It takes time but it will get better,”
“Not only are you contending with trauma to the area but estrogen can make the vaginal walls very thin, which can be uncomfortable. It’s normal, almost every woman experiences difficult sex after childbirth”
“Your natural lubricants are also almost non-existent for a lot of women so make sure you use lubricant to prevent friction, which is a common cause of discomfort for women during sex.”
Krystal says that breastfeeding can also impact lubrication, and a lot of nursing mothers may feel awkward about exposing their breasts during sex. “Not only have you got leaking boob, they might be sore or engorged and being reminded of your baby during sex is not very helpful when you’re trying to switch off.”
“It’s important that we communicate with our partners about how we are feeling. Sex after the baby takes patience and time on both sides. Your partner needs to understand that while you may have the all clear from a physical point of view, emotionally you might have no interest. Sleep deprivation will do that to you.”
It can be hard to switch between being a milk machine and into sexy times. Image: istock
Krystal suggests taking time for foreplay before attempting intercourse and suggests a massage from your partner to reconnect and get in the mood. "It's also good if you adopt a position where the woman can control the depth of penetration. That way you can stop immediately if something is hurting."
"It's also important that women understand that if you're having sex, you can easily fall pregnant again. The old wives tale of breastfeeding preventing pregnancy is just that (an old wives tale). While it's true that breastfeeding can delay your cycle resuming, keep in mind that the egg is released before a period so you won't know when you've ovulated" says Krystal, "If you don't want another baby, or it's too soon, be sure to talk to your doctor about your contraceptive options."