You’ve just welcomed your new baby home and it’s no longer just you and your partner in the house. It’s been a few weeks, your little one has finally fallen asleep, and you’ve finally got some alone time with your partner. They run you a bath, light some candles, and beckon you to come to bed. It feels so good to be in their arms, being held, kissing them, and then that little nagging voice in your head: Am I even ready to have sex again? I JUST had a baby!
Whether you’re SO ready to be physically intimate with your partner again or SO not feeling it, here is a quick guide to romance and sex after birth.
When Can I Have Sex Again?
There is no magical timeline to resuming physical intimacy after giving birth. Most providers will tell you to hold off on penetrative sex for 6 weeks after the delivery of your baby. This timing coincides with your 6 week postpartum checkup and your provider will likely say it is safe for you to resume sexual activity. All because they give you the “all clear”, it doesn’t mean you have to hop right back into being physical.
You know your body and mind best, move at a pace that makes you feel comfortable.
How Will I Know When I’m Healed?
It takes about 6 weeks for your uterus to heal and to shrink back to its pre-pregnancy size. Whether you delivered vaginally or by cesarean, you may experience vaginal bleeding as your body heals. In this time, it is not recommended to insert anything vaginally, including a tampon. In order for penetrative sex to resume safely, your cervix must be closed, so at the very least it’s best to wait until you’ve gotten the go-ahead from your healthcare provider. If your delivery included a cesarean, episiotomy, or other lacerations you’ll also want to be mindful of the wound’s healing process.
You can also help re-strengthen your pelvic floor by practicing kegel exercises.
I’m Feeling Hesitant, What Can I Do?
Check in with yourself. Between the physical and hormonal changes following pregnancy and birth, it’s completely normal to not feel ready to have sex. Plus, with your new schedule, you’re likely exhausted at the end of the day and just want some sleep. If you’re breastfeeding or snuggling your newborn all day, it’s common to feel sensory overload or all touched out. Communicate with your partner about how you’re feeling and discuss other ways you can express affection without too much touching.
Your relationship with your body may have changed as well, so before you’re ready to get physical with your partner again, this is a perfect time for you to be intimate with yourself. This can look different for everyone. Try taking a relaxing bath or shower, letting the water soothe your body. If you are comfortable doing so, explore your own body, finding ways of being touched that feel good to you. When you do feel ready to be touched by your partner, this will help you communicate what is pleasurable to you. This will also give you a chance to explore the ways in which your body has physically changed (like fuller breasts that leak milk). Learning your body and getting comfortable with yourself plays a key role in re-establishing a relationship with your partner.
Remember that sex is not just about penetration. There are other ways of being intimate with your partner, like sensual massages or taking a bath together, that can help strengthen your bond. Quality time, non-sexual foreplay, and cuddling can help get the oxytocin flowing. As we’ve discussed, oxytocin plays a powerful role in creating a bond between you and your partner and increases the trust between you. Starting slow with kissing, external touching and pleasuring, and communicating your needs are great ways to ease back into physical intimacy.
Alright, Alright. What About Getting Down To Business?
First, a note: If you are not planning on getting pregnant immediately or ever again, talk with your provider about birth control options at your 6 week checkup.
When you’re ready to get down, it’s time to lube up! Even if lubricant wasn’t part of your sex play pre-baby, it can be an incredibly useful tool in your postpartum sex life. Breastfeeding, birth control, and other hormonal changes can lead to vaginal dryness which can make sex…well…uncomfortable. Just because your body isn’t self-lubricating, doesn’t mean you’re not turned on. The need for lube is completely normal when resuming sex after childbirth.
Not all lubes are created equally, so avoid lubes that contain oils, parabens, or glycerins. Water-based lubricant like Sliquid Oceanics, or silicone lubricant like Uberlube are designed with vaginal health in mind. And if you’re hoping to conceive again, these lubes won’t mess with your vaginal pH.
Communication is key.
Get comfy and feel sexy! Set the mood with candles, comfy bedding, and a sexy nursing bra. And don’t put too much pressure on yourselves for it to be perfect! You’re relearning each other, your bodies, and what sex looks like for you now. Communicate about both of your wants and needs. You are both experiencing a new change in your lives, and each of your feelings, desires, and fears are valid. Talk about things other than the baby, reminisce about your favorite memories together, and be patient with each other. Your sex life may look different now, but take the time to be present with each other as a couple and remember at the core of your romance is the love that brought you together.
Written by Hancie Stokes