Should You Really Wait Six Weeks After Giving Birth to Have Sex?
When I ran into a friend of mine at a holiday party the other day, I oohed and ahhhed over her brand-new baby, but when I asked how everything was going, she grimaced.
“I have my six-week check-up coming up,” she said with a sigh. “You know what that means …”
Oh, boy. After four kids, I sure do know what that means. But I've never been quite sure — is that six-week mark a hard-and-fast rule (ahem) or simply a recommendation?
The whole “wait six weeks” thing happened along for a pretty simple reason: a woman's cervix, on average, takes six weeks to close back up after giving birth, so healthcare providers schedule a postpartum checkup to do a visual and physical check to make sure that the cervix is closed, that there are no other issues, and that any damage from tears to episiotomies has healed up.
But with that being said, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists states that “there is no set ‘waiting period' before a woman can have sex again after giving birth.” In fact, the ACOG notes that most providers actually recommend a period of abstinence that ranges anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks after birth, with special considerations for c-section births and episiotomies.
The biggest risks, according to the ACOG, are infection and physical damage, like tearing open stitches, with the highest potential for risk occurring in the first two weeks after birth.
Some celebrities have spoken out about post-pregnancy sex, like Snooki, who waited longer than the recommended six-week point, and Tori Spelling, who has said that her husband “has never been good at math” about getting right back into it.
Personally, my husband and I have passed both timelines — in waiting well past the six-week point when I felt ready and in initiating intimacy before the “deadline,” when I knew I was physically and emotionally ready. There is no one rule that will be right for every couple, but the only rules you need to follow are to wait until you are physically healed and don't put any pressure on yourself to resume the bedroom activities.
It's totally normal to experience changes in your sex life after birth and in adjusting to life with a baby, so open communication from the very beginning about your own feelings is the best course of action.
How long did you wait after birth before resuming intimacy?