Sex After Pregnancy: Facts, Feelings, and Fears
Pregnancy and childbirth are life-altering experiences. And though you know your life is going to change in many ways, it’s not uncommon to hope that some things will return to “normal,” and sex after pregnancy is often right at the top of that list.
For women, having a baby changes the way they look at their bodies. But it can also do the same thing to men! The journey back to intimacy can be daunting when you’re facing postpartum exhaustion, hormones, and lack of time together.
Communication before and after the baby about sexual desire and how you are both feeling is the key to being a loving and supportive partner throughout pregnancy and childbirth.
The Medical Facts
First, even if you are planning to breastfeed, you will want to discuss birth control with your provider before you give birth, unless you are trying to conceive again right away.
Within about two to six weeks of having your baby, your bleeding will cease, your uterus will start to heal and you’ll start seeing your belly reduce in size. Though the likelihood of infection is reduced each week, most providers suggest not having sex until after your 6-week postpartum appointment.
For the first three days after pregnancy, your vaginal discharge (called lochia) will go from dark red with some clotting to a plum color with a week or so. For the next few weeks, you can expect it will be more watery, fading to brown, pink, and finally a light creamy yellow.
Sexual health issues after birth are not uncommon, so be prepared to talk honestly with your provider when you see them. They have heard it all! In fact, it’s reported that 83-89% of women have sexual issues in the first three months after birth.
The good news is that long-term there is no great risk of sexual dysfunction. While you might not be swinging from the chandelier when you resume intimacy after baby, with time and advice from your practitioner, your sex life can resume!
A lubricant will be your new best friend, so stock up on something that is odorless and that is water-soluble. Do not use oil-based lubricants as they can cause irritation that could lead to infection. Your provider will be able to advise you on one they suggest!
A Green Light Does Not Mean You are Ready to Go
Just like no two pregnancies are alike, every woman has a different experience when it comes to resuming sex after pregnancy. Many women say that it was different for them after each baby. A difficult delivery, tearing or a cesarean can mean your body heals more slowly.
Remember that sex is also intimacy, and that feeling often has many layers. You may be exhausted, hyper-aware of your body, hormonal, and have vaginal dryness (especially common with women who breastfeed).
So, even if your provider has given you the go-ahead, you both need to be ready to resume that part of your relationship.
Again, (you know we are going to say it!) Open, honest communication is what you need! If it’s more time, maybe you send baby off with grandma for an evening and have both some time together and a good night’s sleep.
If Things Still Aren’t Right
If you are experiencing pain with intercourse, or if you have major anxiety about it, you need to talk to your partner first, and then your practitioner.
You may be healed physically but not emotionally. Or it could be something physical your practitioner will need to diagnose. Whatever the reason is, don’t think that just because you’ve become a parent that your sex life is over.
Having a child brings couples closer, but the work of intimacy can be a challenge in the early days after the baby arrives. The journey you have will be your own!