Congrats! You’ve made it through your pregnancy with an intact sex life. However – having sex after giving birth is probably the last thing on your mind. At some point, you and your partner may be wondering…
“When Is It Safe to Start Having Sex Again?”
Most healthcare professionals recommend postpartum sex no earlier than 4 to 6 weeks after giving birth, for both vaginal and C section delivery. There is a higher risk of complications with having sex 2 weeks after giving birth, so it’s very important to take care of your body and give it plenty of time to heal.
Giving birth is an intense, life-altering experience. The physical aftershocks can include vaginal tears, incision healing, postpartum bleeding, and major hormone changes. You may also experience vaginal dryness, fatigue, and low libido. These are all normal body changes, no matter what type of delivery you’ve had.
While it seems like some of these after-effects would be lessened by having a C section, the sex after C section risks and healing time are actually greater. Since your body is recovering from an invasive surgery, you may experience pelvic floor changes and postpartum bleeding. It is important to pay close attention to your body to know when you are ready for sex after birth or sex after C section.
It’s especially important if you are wanting to have intimacy after a C section that you check with your doctor. For some women, sex 3 weeks after giving birth can be an option. However having sex with stitches can be more dangerous.
Painful Sex After Birth
There are plenty of tools that can help if you’re experiencing painful sex after birth.
Think you have enough lube? Use more. Due to postpartum hormonal changes, stress, fatigue, and possible dehydration, the vaginal wall can be much dryer and more delicate. Sex without enough lubrication can cause friction and micro-tears, which could lead to infection. Some lubes also cause pH imbalances, so steer away from anything that contains chlorhexidine gluconate or polyquaternium. In addition to protecting yourself, adding lots of lubrication can heighten pleasure and arousal.
These lubes are some of our favorites:
2. Kegel Exercises
Our pelvic floor muscles have gone through many changes throughout your pregnancy and birth, which can cause discomfort during penetrative sex. Kegels are an exercise where you tighten the pelvic muscles. They can help rebuild strength and sensation to this area.
Make sure to look up correct techniques for Kegel exercises, because “squeezing” too hard or too often can cause additional strain. You can also look for a practitioner who offers pelvic floor mapping in your area if you continue to experience muscular discomfort.
3. Vaginal Dilator
If your pelvic muscles are still feeling sore during or after sex, you can talk to your medical practitioner about evaluating if a vaginal dilator would be beneficial for you. Dilators can help rehabilitate the health and structure of your vaginal canal by gently and gradually expanding the muscles. This has proven to be an effective method of alleviating tightness after birth.
4. Erotic Massage
If you are wondering how to please a woman after childbirth, massage can be a very sensual and caring way to connect, especially in the midst of a new and chaotic routine. Find a scented oil (or just grab coconut oil from the kitchen!), and gently give your partner a massage.
This can help relax her mind and body, and allow her to be more receptive to other types of pleasure. Massage can also serve as an excellent communication exercise between you and your partner if you want to take turns. You can each practice asking and voicing what feels good.
5. Non-Penetrative Sex After Birth
External stimulation after birth can be highly pleasurable. There are many forms of shared pleasure and sex activities that do not include vaginal penetration. This can include erotic massage, mutual masturbation, using a vibrator, oral sex, watching erotic movies, or sensual kissing. It is important to remember that each component of intimacy or foreplay doesn’t imply other sex acts.
For instance, it can be very erotic to give a hand job or mutually masturbate, without leading to penetrative sex. Listen to the cues and desires of your partner, which builds trust that you can engage in specific sex act without the implication that penetrative sex will also happen. Building trust and intimacy with your partner is more important than having an orgasm. Communicate openly about how to achieve your individual physical needs, and discuss the role of self pleasure and masturbation in your relationship.
6. It’s All in Your Head
But not in the way you think! The most important sex organ is our brain, and tending to our emotional needs is the surest way to rediscover our erotic selves. Your connection and desires are greatly impacted by building support and trust with your partner. Be intentional towards offering alternative forms of care, love, and intimacy.
A good example is an act of service, such as bringing snacks or drinks to make sure the mother gets enough food and hydration when they are breastfeeding. Remember to only do acts of service if giving is fulfilling to you and not a bargaining chip for sex. The most important thing is to avoid building resentment over time. Support your partner in ways that allow you to be the person they desire when they do rediscover their libido.
Masturbation after Birth
Pleasuring yourself after birth is one of the best ways to uncover your erotic energy, and discover again what feels good.
You can start self pleasure after pregnancy whenever you and your body feels ready – but be sure to follow your physician’s guidance about waiting for penetration until after 6 weeks. Take the chance to explore non-penetrative pleasure by letting your hands lightly graze or massage different parts of your body. Gently using toys or vibrators is also a great way to experiment with sensations, and discover how your body reacts to masturbation after birth. [Here are 5 Essential Ways to Celebrate Self Pleasure]
Don’t focus on orgasms as a goal, or push through any pain or discomfort; trust your body to tell you what feels right in terms of practicing masturbation after birth.
What to Expect After You’re Expecting…
Try to have limited expectations when it comes to sex after pregnancy. Give yourself permission to not feel immediately erotic, sexual, sensual, or excited by sex as you enter this new phase of your life. There is no “normal” when it comes to sex after birth, as every person has a unique timeline and postpartum experience.
Sometimes there is an expectation that your sex life will return to what it was before giving birth. But the reality is that this landscape of partnership will be ever-changing as your new little family member (or members) experiences multiple new life stages and routine changes. Your body, sleep, hormones, and free time will likely be pretty different for at least a few years. And – the importance of communication with your partner will increase, as you discover new territory of being specific and intentional with rebuilding your intimacy and sexuality.
While the changes in your sex life may feel very permanent, keep in mind that this is truly a temporary season. Work as a team with your partner to find ways to have fulfilling and exciting sex after birth.
Need help negotiating your postpartum sex life? A sex & relationship coach can help you communicate better, tune into your body again, and guide you on a natural way back to your own desire and connection with your partner. Work with us!