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Sex-After-Childbirth

Sex After Childbirth

Sex after childbirth can be a difficult subject to discuss, but it’s a worry for many new mums and with a little planning and care should be something that brings you and your partner closer together.

Here Dr Rachel Mackey gives advice on how your body changes after childbirth and how to approach sex.

Childbirth will affect you and your partner’s sex life, but it will go back to normal after some time and practice.

Sex is normally the last thing on a woman’s mind in the weeks following childbirth. It’s not something that should be rushed into, considering the exhaustion and pain that can follow after having a baby.

READ MORE: How Much Sex Is Normal After Having A Baby?

Medical professionals generally recommend that women wait six weeks before starting to have sex again. But there is no set time that a woman should aim to start having sex again – it’s best to wait until you are physically and emotionally ready.

Let Your Body Recover

It’s normal to not feel like having sex again in the first few weeks or months after having a baby. If you are feeling sore following an episiotomy or stitches, do give yourself time to recover. If you had a Caesarean, you will be recovering from a major operation. Allow your wounds to heal and stitches to dissolve before you have sex again.

READ MORE: Sex Isn't Comfortable Since Having My Baby. What Can I Do?

If you still experience pain two months or so after the birth, talk to your GP or public health nurse. Sometimes, the way a tear or an episiotomy is stitched can cause long-term discomfort, which further surgery can put right.

The emotional after-effects of childbirth can also impact on a woman’s libido. It could also be a symptom of postnatal depression. If you feel depressed after having a baby, contact your GP or public health nurse.

Body Conscious

Your body has spent nine months growing your baby. It can take more than two months for your uterus to return to its pre-pregnancy size. Don’t forget that your body has been through the major process of pregnancy and labour, and will need time to recover. It’s normal for extra fat to stick around, because nature intends this to be a store of energy for breastfeeding. Be proud of your body as it has done an amazing job of bringing your baby into the world.

READ MORE: How To Answer Those Awkward Questions About Sex

Self-help Tips

  1. Taking care of yourself can go a long way in keeping the spark alive
  2. Take your time. Set reasonable expectations as you adjust to motherhood. You don’t have to have rush into sex – try having a cuddle and just being intimate to help you get used to having sex again.
  3. A lubricating jelly can help as hormone changes can make your vagina feel drier than normal.
  4. Look after yourself. Eat well, drink lots of fluids and take rest whenever you can. Looking after a newborn is extremely demanding and you will need to keep your energy levels up.
  5. Your body will be different now – appreciate the changes!
  6. Do your kegels. After a vaginal delivery, your vaginal muscles may be temporarily stretched out. Continue to do your pelvic floor exercises to strengthen and tone up your vaginal muscles. Doing these exercises will help you to prevent or control urinary incontinence and also increase your enjoyment of sex. To do them, find the muscles you use to stop urinating. Squeeze these muscles for three seconds. Then relax for three seconds. Add one second each week until you are able to squeeze for 10 seconds each time. Repeat this exercise 10-15 times per sessions. Do not do kegels while you urinate.

READ MORE: Contraception After Giving Birth

“It is reasonable purely from a healing point of view to resume sex six weeks after a vaginal delivery, but for many women that is too soon and if they had a lot of stitches they might leave it longer.” – says Dr. Rachel Mackey. "Women who have had a Caesarean section also can resume sex at this point but often it takes longer to recover.

"It is completely normal to have a low sex drive after a baby. Partly, this is hormonal as oestrogen levels are low especially if you are breast feeding. It is also partly exhaustion and maybe a little anxiety resuming sex after delivery.

"If a woman’s periods have returned for a few months and there are no obvious reasons for poor libido it would be a good idea to see your doctor to discuss it further.

"One aspect of resuming sex after a baby is poor lubrication. This is more commonly seen in breastfeeding mums. A good oil based lubricant like Sylk (beware; oil based lubricants can’t be used with condoms) can really help. Sometimes vaginal oestrogen may be needed for a little while.

READ MORE: Secondary Infertility: Trying For Another Baby

"Symptoms that you shouldn’t ignore are persistent marked pain with sex and bleeding after sex. These are not normal and need further investigation.”

Do you have tips to make sex after child birth easier? Share them in the comments below.


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