Sex is often the last thing on your mind after having a baby! Hence most mums don’t even think about asking their midwives about it. So when the time comes to being ready to have sex, you may wish you had asked the question.
Unfortunately like anything baby related, the answer is a “how long is a piece of string” type answer. But generally it is safe to have sex when you feel ready. For some people this is a few weeks, for others a few months and for others more like years. So be reassured that there is no “normal” time frame for return to sex.
It is recommended, however, waiting 4-6 weeks post birth before you think about it. Usually this is enough time for the bleeding to have stopped, swelling to have reduced and everything to have settled down there. For any more complicated deliveries such as larger perineal tears or episiotomies, then it is important to make sure the wound is fully healed as returning to sex too quickly may damage stitches or increase risk of infection. Most women will know when they feel “healed” enough to even think about it, but get the GP or gynecologist to check any stitches at the 6 week check. But a minimum of 4-6 weeks is a good starting place for most.
With regard to c-sections, the same healing principles apply. Sex will place load on you abdomen, so you want to make sure the scar is healing well and you don’t have pain around the scar or pain with activities that put load on your tummy. If you can lift your baby out of the bassinet, into the car etc without pain, you are probably safe to return to sex.
The first few times are likely to be painful, and when you consider what your body has been through it’s no surprise. Don’t panic if it is sore, be reassured that it is quite normal. Try to stay relaxed and make sure you do feel aroused (no crying babies in the background etc!!) as this should make it easier. I certainly wouldn’t recommend having a glass of wine and pushing through as this will not help in the long run. If it is sore but you still want to be intimate then try a variety of non penetrative things first. If it is painful and things are not improving, then this is the time to see a women’s health physio as it may be an overactive pelvic floor being the cause of the pain which you may need to be treated.
There are other things to consider also
- Lube, lube and more lube – you will likely be quite dry to start with so make sure you use plenty of lube to reduce any pain and make things easier. Breastfeeding mums have reduced oestrogen which makes things drier still.
- Partners are more scared than you – your partner will have seen the pain of birth and will be freaking out not to hurt you anymore so be mindful of this. Lots of open conversation is vital so there is no pressure from either party and you both feel comfortable trying.
- Position is key – be in a position where you can control what is going on. Being on top is great for this as you can control the depth etc.
To summarize, there really is no time frame. Wait at least 4-6 weeks and then it is purely down to how you feel in your body and how you feel in yourself. As long as that is communicated with your partner, you don’t put any pressure on yourself and you listen to your body, you won’t go far wrong.