What You Need to Know About Sex After Giving Birth
After giving birth, after the stitches heal and the memories of delivery fade, and you start to feel a teensy bit like a human being again, comes the scariest part about having a baby:
Getting back in the saddle.
And by that, of course, I mean sex, and why I didn't just say “sex,” I don't know, considering I'm a grown woman with kids of my own, so obviously I've been in the saddle myself, but there you have it.
Will it hurt? Will it be awful? Will milk spray everywhere? Let's take a look at everything you need to know about having sex after birth.
Will it hurt? Sex after giving birth should not hurt, but there may be some physical hardships that could come up. For example, if you've had an episiotomy, your perineum may have a scar or you may be so worried about it hurting that tensing up could make sex difficult. Experts advise that if your first attempt at post-delivery sex is painful, to take your time, express your fears with your partner, and use plenty of lube to make things easier.
What's up with the six weeks rule? The six weeks rule is just an average, not a rule. In general, it takes about six weeks for a woman's cervix to close up after giving birth, which is where the six weeks check-up comes in. However, some women may need longer after birth to heal and some women may heal faster and feel ready sooner.
There's no way I could get pregnant, right? It might seem crazy to even think about getting pregnant again so quickly, but allow me to assure you that it can indeed happen. As an OB nurse, I have seen women who got pregnant within days after giving birth, so yup, it happens. If another baby isn't in your plans so soon, you might want to consider taking preventive measures.
Um, what about all the milk? If you're breastfeeding, you may wonder how exactly that will work. First of all, it is important for women to realize that breastfeeding is linked to a diminished sex drive. The same hormone that keeps the milk flowing, prolactin, also inhibits your libido, which makes sense from a biological perspective, right? Nature wants to ensure that a mom is feeding the baby she has, not getting pregnant again. The point is, don't beat yourself up if you find you're not as interested in sex as you once were — there could be a very real physical reason and it won't last forever.
Secondly, you might be wonder what exactly happens with the milk when you're intimate? Some women do experience a letdown of milk, especially at orgasm so it does happen. If you're worried about it or if it will bother you, be sure to be open with your partner about it ahead of time.
Will it be weird because of what your partner has seen? Some women might worry that their partner seeing them give birth or go through the rigors of surgery will change how they perceive their bodies. Studies have found, however, that instead, partners have reported that seeing their partners go through birth actually makes them feel closer and more intimate to them. Your body has done amazing things and your partner should be even more in awe of you than before, not anything else.
And finally, is there something wrong with me for wanting more/less than most moms? The bottom line is that there is no “norm” when it comes to sex after birth — every woman is different and every couple needs to do what's right for them. The most important thing moving forward after delivery is keeping an open mind, being honest with your partner, and giving yourself plenty of time and grace as you move into a new season of your life.