How soon after childbirth can you have sex again? How will this affect a woman's sex drive? What to avoid for lovemaking during the first few months after delivery?
The sexual implications of childbirth are twofold. First, there are the physical considerations and second, there are the psychological factors. After delivery, sex is often the furthest thing from a woman's mind, as her body needs time to recover.
Whether the baby is born vaginal delivery or by C-section, a period of 6 weeks is often necessary to abstain from sex to give time for the cervix to close, for internal tears to heal, for the stitches to dissolve and for the post-natal bleeding to end.
Every woman may feel differently about when she will be ready or even have the desire to have sex again. Some women may need many months, whereas others will begin feeling ready to make love again within weeks. If you are in doubt about whether to resume sex, ask the doctor.
For several weeks after the delivery, the vagina will discharge lochia, a mixture of residual blood, mucus and tissue from inside the uterus. As the healing progresses and the bleeding slows, the discharge gradually turns to a watery pink, then to brown, and finally to a yellowish white. Lochia discharge generally lasts from 2 to 6 weeks.
Having a baby passing through the vagina may cause some tearing of the delicate tissues. This will result in vaginal soreness. Even if this does not happen to her, the perineal area can feel bruised and sensitive for some time.
With births involving surgery, women have to be careful to keep their stitches free from the risk of re-opening or infection. Some women have to delay resuming intercourse longer because of problems with the wounds.
If a woman is breast-feeding, her vagina may also be sensitive. Those hormones that are around when breast-feeding can suppress sex drive. Guys do often get very frustrated when they are waiting to resume sexual intercourse. A couple should therefore tread carefully back into a sexual routine. They should start slow with extended foreplay.
Hormone changes and worries can cause some women to experience vaginal dryness for the first 3 months after giving birth. Vaginal dryness can be treated with some over-the-counter solutions such as K-Y Jelly, Liquid Silk, or Pjur. Some condoms that have a built-in lubricant can be equally effective.
Kegel exercises can also be a good way to get the vaginal muscles back into shape and to regain the muscle tone so that she has this capacity to get aroused again. These exercises are performed by tightening the PC muscles (that regulate the flow of urine) in the same way she stops the flow of urine and are highly recommended for women recovering from pregnancy. Do 10 squeezes at a time, at least 6 times a day. Work up to keeping the muscles contracted for 10 seconds at a time, relaxing for 10 seconds between contractions.
However, physical challenges are only part of the toll. Taking care of the new baby can pose a psychological strain. The main reason most women are not keen on sex for at least a few weeks after childbirth is simply exhaustion. If the delivery was long or difficult, the woman may also feel anxious about getting pregnant. Take advantage of the baby nap times to catch up on some sleeping.
Worries about body image and post natal depression can also influence her arousal. Therefore do not rush back into a pre-pregnancy sexual routine. Until she is ready for sex, intimacy can be maintained in other ways. Spend time together without the baby or when it is sleeping even if this takes just a few minutes in the morning. Look for other ways to express affection.
The post-natal period can be a good chance to consider new sexual positions, learn more about the turn-ons and turn-offs for the couple and to get to know each other in a different way.
For the first few sessions after childbirth, it is a good idea to choose a position in which the woman can control the pace and depth of penetration. The woman-on-top position, or one where both lay side-by-side facing each other, may be more comfortable.
Unless you want to have baby again, use condoms. Avoid giving her oral sex for the first few months after birth. This can increase the risk of infection for the vagina and womb. Blowing air into the vagina can cause an often fatal illness called air embolism.
Although children may be a blessing, the time and effort to take care of them prevents many couples from finding the time to be intimate with each other. Balancing the needs of your child with your urges is not easy, but it can be done if you and your partner are willing to make the effort.