Everything you need to know about sex after giving birth

A quick rundown of getting back into it after you’ve had the baby (Picture: Getty Images)

Having a baby is an all-round life-changing event, and while some things will never be the same again (namely, you’ll have a tiny person to keep alive) you’ll likely be keen for other things to get back to normal.

When it comes to sex, getting back on the horse can be at once tempting and a little scary, what with all that your body had to go through to bring a baby into the world.

It’s natural for both you and your partner to have questions, which is why we’ve put together a quick guide on some of the most-Googled questions to do with sex after birth.

When can you have sex after birth?

There are no hard and fast rules about when you should or shouldn’t have sex after birth.

Whenever you and your partner feel like it’s the right time is a good time to try, so it’s good to talk about how you both feel beforehand.

Don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t work the first time or even the first few times as it’s common for people to feel discomfort during sex after giving birth vaginally.

Every body is different, so the important things are to not rush, not give up and take it nice and easy the first few times.

The NHS recommends that you should talk to your GP if you’re still feeling pain after your postnatal check.

Pregnancy and birth will have your body going through big changes (Picture: Getty Images/EyeEm)

Why is sex uncomfortable after birth?

Since they just forced a whole human through their vagina, many people with vaginas can justifiably be worried that sex after vaginal birth will be painful.

Your partner may also be worried about hurting you, which makes it all the more important that you talk to each other about sex after birth ahead of time.

Dr Suzy Elneil, consultant in urogynaecology at University College Hospital, London, is quoted on the NHS website as saying soreness ‘usually improves within 6 to 12 weeks after the birth. We always recommend pelvic floor exercises to help make the situation better in this case, too.’

Not only can people experience tearing during birth, but their hormones will also likely be in flux, which can make their vagina drier than usual.

Lube can help with this, but if penetrative sex hurts, you should stop and try again another time.

In the meantime, you can also try having your partner stimulate other erogenous zones like the clit.

Dr Elneil says: ‘Once you stop breastfeeding and your periods have returned, the levels of oestrogen revert to pre-pregnancy levels.

‘If you have noticed dryness, it should improve.’

If you keep feeling pain during sex, talk to your GP about it.

Having a baby to look after can be a bit distracting (Picture: Getty Images)

Sex after a C-section

The NHS says you should try staying mobile and doing ‘gentle activities’ when you get home from the hospital after a C-section as this will help lower the risk of blood clots.

However more strenuous activities like carrying something heavier than your baby, driving and yes, sex might have to wait up to six weeks.

You should only try having sex after a C-section if doing so is not uncomfortable.

If you’re not sure that it’s safe, you can talk to your GP or midwife.

Sex after episiotomy

An episiotomy is when your perineum – the skin between your vagina and anus -tears or needs to be cut by a medical professional to get your baby out.

These cuts can make your perineum sore after birth and sometimes they need stitches to heal, which can mean waiting a little while longer to have sex as pain during intercourse common for the first few months.

However, the same rules apply in that in that there’s no set time that you and your partner need to wait to have sex again – it’s up to both of you to decide when you feel comfortable.

The NHS also recommends swerving oil-based lubricants, as these can irritate the vagina.

Pelvic floor exercises can help you heal and help ease any pressure on the healing cut.

If you keep feeling sore during sex, the NHS website recommends you have your GP check to make sure you’re healing properly.

Look out for signs of infection which include: red, swollen skin, discharge of pus or liquid from the cut, persistent pain and/or an unusual smell.

Don’t shy away from talking to your GP (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

What to do if sex is still uncomfortable three months postpartum

A study conducted in 2009 found that ‘Postpartum genital and pelvic pain persists for longer than a year for a significant percentage of mothers’, with people who’ve experienced other chronic pain before more suseptable.

If sex is persistently uncomfortable after birth for whatever reason, then you should see your GP to check if there are any problems that need addressing and to see if there’s anything that can be done to help.

Will your sex drive and sex life change after a baby?

It’s normal for your sex drive to take a dip after you’ve had a baby, what with all the changes your body has and is going through, not to mention the fact that you’ve not got a small human to look after.

Every couple is unique with their own different needs and bodies to work around, so it’s important to not feel pressured into having sex again – only do it if you and your partner both want to.

The best thing you and your partner can do is communicate with each other about how you’re feeling and why.

If you feel like a low sex drive is starting to impact your relationship, then don’t shy away from talking to your GP.

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