Nine long months are finally over, and you may wonder when you can begin having sex again. The general advice is to wait until the bleeding (lochia) stops, which is about three weeks after your baby’s birth. If you had a tear or episiotomy though, you may want to wait until at least six weeks before you try.
Most women begin having sex again by three months after giving birth. For some it may take longer, about six months or some. On the other hand, some women start having sex within the first month after the delivery. Just as it is with many other things, it’s different for each woman.
But even when you’re physically ready, the stitches have healed and the doctor says you can go ahead and do it, some things may still bother you. Here are some common problems with sex after pregnancy.
You Feel Pain During Sex
Why – If you had a tear, episiotomy and stitches, you might feel pain weeks after giving birth until the stitches dissolve and the wound heals. Even if you had a “perfect” delivery, pushing the baby out leaves your vagina sore for a while. If you are breastfeeding, the hormone prolactin might reduce your sexual desire by reducing vaginal lubrication.
What to do – First of all, wait. Stitches heal, the soreness passes. Use plenty of lubricant (water-based!) and ask your partner to be gentle and patient. Take another week or two before trying penetrative sex and go for touching, caressing and other forms of what is usually called foreplay, but is actually another form of making love.
Sex Doesn’t Feel the Same
Why – Your vaginal muscles might be stretched out after pushing out a baby. Just as every other muscle, this one needs training to get back into shape and do its work properly.
What to do – Do pelvic-floor exercises (Kegels). The good news is that you don’t even need to go to the gym for that – you can do them while watching TV, breastfeeding, driving, etc.
You Don’t Want to Have Sex
Why – So, you just don’t feel like it. You have plenty of excuses, and they’re good ones: You’ve just done with carrying a heavy load, pushed out three kg of flesh and bone, are breastfeeding around the clock (with breastfeeding hormones to lower your libido, above everything else) not getting enough sleep and are generally behaving like a zombi. That’s what you’ve been programmed to do. The other programs may hibernate for a while.
What to do – once again – wait. Survival comes first, sex later. Give yourself a break, you will want to have sex. Eventually. Just make sure your partner feels your pain.. and let him know you feel his. And cuddle. Many good things may come out of cuddling.
You Don’t Want Him to Touch Your Breasts
Why – Prolactin is a tough beast. You used to like it when your partner was caressing your breasts. But if he touches them now, you feel a worrying urge to push him back, maybe even a little bit of disgust, and you think about the baby while having sex instead of concentrating on what you’re doing with your partner? The feeling might be intense and alarming – Your breasts don’t belong to him anymore, they don’t even belong to YOU, they are BABY’S. Hands off!
What to do – Remember that bit about what you were programmed to behave like after giving birth? The breasts issue is part of it. This feeling will eventually pass (though, maybe, not entirely – until your child is weaned), but what is more important is that you know that the feeling is completely normal. You still desire your partner. It’s just that the mother program rules right now. Take it easy. Especially if your nipples are still sore, maybe even bleeding, from breastfeeding. That will pass too, by the way.
You Had A C-Section But Suffer From A Sore Vagina
Why – You thought that since you had a caesarean, you woudn’t have a sore vagina. Bad news. Even if you had a c-section, your vagina was still involved in the process: pregnancy and delivery hormones are still there, making your vagina temporarily sensitive, pregnancy itself exerts pressure on the pelvic area, the process labor did the same thing.
What to do – The feeling of discomfort usually passes after a few weeks. If not, and if it’s accompanied by fever and bleeding, consult your doctor.