Sex after Childbirth

Many couples are uncertain about having sex after childbirth, as they are unsure of the right time and whether it is safe in the early days. There are many concerns that couples have and both women and men can feel insecure about resuming their love life.

When can a couple resume sex after birth?

Many women assume that after your GP gives you your six week postnatal check you should be able to resume your love life. However, you can have intercourse after birth when you feel it is the right time for you. Some couples decide to try and make love before the six week postnatal check, so that they can address any problems or concerns with their doctor. 

Every couple is different and some couples may need more time to get back into the swing of things than others. Some couples can resume their sex life after one to three months, but others may have to wait until six months. There is no standard benchmark of waiting time for when it is right to resume intercourse; it should be a mutual decision based on what feels best. 

Why do new mums feel reluctant to have intercourse?

Mothers may feel reluctant to have intercourse straight after childbirth due to the following reasons:

  • Soreness of pain from tears during birth or an episiotomy
  • Tiredness from the pregnancy and birth
  • The perception of their body, as they may feel unhappy about the way they look after birth
  • Negative feelings after birth
  • A fear of sex after birth

All these factors could contribute to a delay in resuming intercourse after childbirth and many mothers can relate to one or more of the above factors. 

What if my partner is ready for intercourse before me?

This can sometimes happen between a couple and it takes a lot of mutual understanding to address this problem. It may be that you still feel that sex may hurt and you are scared of trying again due to the pain. You may still need more time for your body to recover, and you can explain this to your partner sensitively. It is important for a couple to talk about their feelings so that neither one of them feels rejected. The best thing to do is try to arrange some time together and rekindle your love by showing each other how much you care. On the physical side you do not need to have full intercourse; you can also use the stimulation of touch. The important thing is to always discuss how you both feel and try to think of other alternatives until you both are ready.

Tips for resuming intercourse after childbirth

Here are some helpful tips for resuming intercourse after childbirth as described below:

  • Try making love during your baby’s nap time when you are not too exhausted, instead of late at night.
  • Try using lubricating jelly which will help if your perineal area is sensitive.
  • You do not have to have full sexual intercourse if you do not feel ready.
  • Choose a position that works best for you so that you do not feel uncomfortable.
  • Try doing pelvic floor exercises to strengthen the muscular tone in your vagina.
  • Follow a healthy balanced diet and rest whenever you can in order to regain your energy.

When should I seek advice from the doctor?

If you have tried to have sexual intercourse, but still find it very painful you should then seek advice from the doctor. Sometimes pain can be caused by a tear or episiotomy and therefore a simple procedure can correct it. If you experience a vaginal discharge you may have an infection and would need to be prescribed with relevant medication.  

Contraception after Birth

You may not have considered options for contraception after childbirth, but it is something you could think about if you do not want to fall pregnant again anytime soon. Many mothers are surprised to know that fertility can return unexpectedly within the first few weeks after giving birth. Many parents who have had babies close together have paid testament to the fact that your libido can return sooner than you think. Some women can ovulate within only mere weeks of delivering your baby. Many women assume that breastfeeding will give them 100% protection against pregnancy; however, that is not the case. Even if you are breastfeeding there are still chances that you can become pregnant. 

You may want to think about discussing contraception options with your personal doctor at your 6 week postnatal appointment. Many women discover that the contraception they have previously used is no longer suitable and they then look to other options. The most popular contraceptive treatments are the pill or coil, as described in more detail below:

  • The Combined Pill –  This pill consists of part progesterone and part oestrogen which prevents ovulation from occurring. The brands of combined pills available are Celeste, Marvelon and Microgynon 30. You can ask your GP for more information on which brand is best for you.
  • The Coil – The coil is an IUS Intrauterine system which prevents the womb lining from becoming thick. The coil works effectively to prevent ovulation and is considered to be affective. Many women choose to have this form of contraception if they want a hassle free contraception.
  • The Mini Pill – This pill contains progesterone only and stops the lining of the womb from thickening as well as creating a barrier so the sperm cannot fertilise the egg. You can take this pill at the 21 day point following birth and you can use it whilst you are breastfeeding. 
  • Depo-Provera – This is a contraception injection which suppresses ovulation through the use of hormones which are released into the bloodstream. These injections are okay to use while breastfeeding and they last 21 days. 
  • Condoms – This is the most common form of contraception and may be the easiest option for you if you are worried about taking contraceptive pills. Most condoms can be purchased from pharmacies or supermarkets. 
  • Implanon – This is an implant which unleashes a hormone into your bloodstream through your armpit. This helps to prevent ovulation and blocks the sperm from fertilising the egg. Implanon is long lasting and very effective if you are not ready to have any more children.
  • Breastfeeding – This is not a 100% proof contraception, yet many mothers assume they cannot get pregnant while breastfeeding. There are cases of breastfeeding mothers conceiving in as little as 3 months after giving birth so it is important to take necessary alternative contraceptives. Breastfeeding produces the hormone prolactin which suppresses ovulation and reduces the chances of conceiving. However, a woman can conceive just a few weeks after giving birth and they may not even realise they are ovulating. It is best not to count on breastfeeding as a fully affective contraception and t is advised to look at other alternatives. 
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