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8 Things You Should Know Before Having Sex After Childbirth
Sex after childbirth

Trying to navigate sex after childbirth can be a confusing and uncomfortable time. One mom on TikTok even goes on to say “After I gave birth I just wasn’t feeling it. I was not feeling like myself, I just didn’t feel sexy, I felt bloated all the time, I was exhausted, I was fatigued, and sex just wasn’t on the table for me.” Feeling this way too? You’re not alone.

There’s a lot you may not know about having sex again after birth, from when you are able to try again to how breastfeeding affects your sex drive and how to cope with vaginal dryness—here are eight things you should know about having sex postpartum.

8 Things You Should Know about Sex After Childbirth

When you’re a new mother, the last thing you want to worry about is sexual intercourse. Adjusting to motherhood, sleep deprivation, and major changes in your body can make your sexual relationship the furthest thing in your mind. Things will adjust with time though, and your sex life can make a full rebound after the birth of a baby. Here is everything you need to know to be prepared for sex after childbirth:

1. You Should Wait at Least 6 Weeks After Birth To Have Sex

Waiting 6 weeks for sex after childbirth

Most health care providers agree that women should wait at least 6 weeks after birth to have sex again—for both vaginal birth and c-section births. Your postpartum period is a delicate time, and having sex too soon can delay the healing process and cause complications like tearing stitches. While this may sound like a long time to reserve physical intimacy, it won’t feel that long when you’re in the throws of new motherhood and dealing with a lack of sleep.

It’s routine for women to have a postpartum checkup six weeks after giving birth. Your doctor will assess your vagina and take a look at your healing progress. They will then either give you the thumbs up or down to engage in sexual activity again. It’s important to wait for this six-week postpartum visit before being sexually active.

2. Breastfeeding Can Lower Your Sex Drive

sex after childbirth - breastfeeding

It’s a known fact that breastfeeding can have a direct impact on your sexual desire. After birth, estrogen levels drop. “Right after delivery, these levels drastically decrease, while oxytocin and prolactin levels increase. When these two hormones are more dominant in the system and estrogen is low it decreases a woman’s sex drive,” says Carolyn Moyers, DO, FACOG, a board-certified OB-GYN in Fort Worth, Texas. 

If you are breastfeeding, this new hormone balance will persist and you will notice a decreased sex drive until you stop. Understanding that low levels of estrogen may cause low sex drive can help you feel more normal and give yourself time to adjust after the birth of your baby.

3. You Might Not Have Interest In Sex

no interest in sex after childbirth

Getting the all-clear from your healthcare provider after the required waiting period is only half the equation. If you don’t feel like having sex yet, you don’t have to. “Many new mothers report negative changes to their sexuality and intimate relationships,” notes Moyers.

Being sleep deprived, experiencing vaginal bleeding, a weak pelvic floor, healing from incisions, sore nipples, physical changes, and postpartum depression or baby blues can be a cloud over your libido–moms go through a lot and there’s no need to feel ashamed. It’s just that sex is the last thing on your mind at the moment, and that’s okay.

Communicate with your partner about what you are going through. Chances are, they are also exhausted and stressed from adjusting to parenthood, and they should be understanding of all the changes you are going through.

4. Sex Could Be Painful

Woman feeling pain sex after childbirth

Many women experience pain or discomfort the first time they have sex after birth. It’s very common for your first time to be somewhat stop-and-go due to discomfort or pain. There are many factors that can impact any negative sensations toward postpartum intercourse. Dr. Moyers lists out several reasons this could happen:

  • Vaginal dryness due to hormonal changes
  • Healing tissue after birth (lacerations or episiotomies)
  • Pelvic floor dysfunction
  • Birth trauma
  • Postpartum depression

If you’re experiencing any painful sex, the most important thing you and your partner need to do is communicate. If sex hurts, of course you aren’t going to want to do it. There’s no harm in taking it slow–or even stopping until you feel comfortable trying again. 

You can also try doing kegels. Kegel exercises have been known to relax the vaginal muscles and help prevent painful sex.

5. Sexy Spoons Is Your Go-To Position

Spooning position

Some sex positions just don’t work when you’re starting to have intercourse again after birth. Sometimes your partner being on top can put too much pressure on your wound. But when you’re on top you can feel too much pressure on your cervix.

Here’s a tip: Start out slow by using the spooning side-by-side sex position. This can be the best way for you and your partner to get back into sexy time again. No one is laying heavily on you, nothing is penetrating deeper with the help of gravity–sexy spoons are one of the tools for couples to have comfortable sex again after birth.

6. Sex Just Might Not Feel Good

Woman laying in bed

Let’s be honest here. Postpartum sex just might not feel good right now. New parents have a lot going on and it’s hard to clear your head to be in the moment. Plus, your body might not feel “normal” yet. Even if your doctor gave you the green light, it’s you who gets to decide when the time is right, and only you will know when that is.

“If you’re not ready for sex in six weeks, either physically or emotionally, be patient with yourself,” says Moyers. Everyone heals at a different pace. Some women are eager and ready to go at six weeks, but a lot of women might not be feeling it until a few months postpartum. Either timeline is normal. 

7. When Can You Get Pregnant Again After Birth?

Getting pregnant after birth

This might be a surprise to you, but women can actually get pregnant again within a month or two after birth. “If you are exclusively breastfeeding, you may experience lactational amenorrhea, a temporary method of birth control that can be used for the first 6 months,” notes Moyers. But this isn’t always a reliable form of birth control. 

Whether you’re ready to have a new baby right away or want to avoid getting pregnant, it’s important to know when you can get pregnant again so you can prepare accordingly. Your health care provider will likely discuss options with you at your 6-week check-up, including birth control pills and other types of contraception that are safe to take while breastfeeding.

As your baby gets older and breastfeeding slows down, you don’t want to rely on that alone to prevent pregnancy. It’s important to be prepared and know your options for birth control methods before you get to that point.

8. You Might Feel More Dryness Down There

Dryness after childbirth

Postpartum vaginal dryness is a very normal and natural thing. “The falling estrogen levels are what cause vaginal dryness because of decreased blood flow and lubrication to the genitals,” says Moyer. Your hormones are trying to rebalance after pregnancy and dryness in the vaginal area might be prominent for a while. 

Dr. Moyers suggests using vaginal estrogen. “Especially if a mother is breastfeeding and has low estrogen levels, local estrogen therapy is extremely helpful.” It is typically safe for everyone and very helpful in combating dryness. Ask your healthcare provider about this if you’re experiencing this issue. 

Sex After Childbirth: When To See A Doctor

It doesn’t matter if you had a vaginal delivery or a cesarean delivery, the healing process can feel like forever. If you’re still experiencing problems with sexual intimacy or pain during sex after 8 weeks postpartum, talk to your doctor. They might recommend seeing a pelvic floor specialist, practicing diaphragmatic breathing, experimenting with creams, or even just taking sex slower. 

It can take a while for post-baby sex to feel normal again. It’s important to remember that this is a temporary stage. It might take six weeks, or it might take a few months–every woman and postpartum recovery is different. Know that you are not alone in the process, many new moms are experiencing the same things you are. Soon, you’ll be feeling like yourself again. 

Disclaimer: All content within this site is not intended as medical diagnosis or treatment and should not be considered a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You are solely responsible for ensuring that any health or nutritional information obtained is accurate. 

Experts in this article:

Carolyn Moyers, DO, FACOG, is a board-certified ob-gyn serving patients at Sky Women’s Health in Fort Worth, Texas. She has over a decade of medical experience and a passion for providing women with the best care available. She opened Sky Women’s Health to give women direct access to their providers in a calming and unhurried environment.