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What Should I Expect from Sex after Childbirth?

A pregnant woman.
Intimacy after childbirth can be created by talking about feelings and offering warm gestures.
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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 16 April 2014
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Expectations or anxieties about sex after childbirth are numerous, and the quality of a first sexual experience or continued sex may be influenced by in many ways. There are important physical and medical issues requiring consideration before sex is reinitiated. Sex after childbirth may feel physically different. Additionally, a number of sensations, feelings or experiences color the way sex after childbirth is perceived.

Physically, women are usually asked to abstain from intercourse for six weeks after pregnancy ends, and possibly for longer if a c-section was performed. It is important not to have sex prior to this time. The body is healing and the cervix is still slightly dilated, which makes it easier for infection to occur. Birth control is also important, unless another pregnancy is planned, as menstruation may begin within a month or two, even when women are breastfeeding.

Many couples restart their sex lives soon after the six-week point, but it's undeniably important for people to feel "ready" to resume sex after childbirth. This should never be a forced issue. Women are typically not ready as soon as men, and the six weeks isn't always enough, especially for first time moms or those who experienced a traumatic birth.

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It's also important to recognize that it may take some time to create feelings of comfort and sexual intimacy. On this path, sex after childbirth should be considered the culmination of intimacy rather than the way to re-establish it. In other words, intimacy can be created by couples talking to each other about their feelings, sharing the responsibilities of newborn care, dads taking particular care of mothers as they recover, and mothers avoiding extreme criticism of fathers. Warm gestures like hugging, kissing, and touching are also important. These measures may especially promote comfort for women, who often require a greater intimacy with partners to fully enjoy sex.

Some concerns about sex after childbirth can be about the mechanics of sex and how it will feel for both partners. A certain amount of stretching occurs in the pelvis during childbirth, which may make things feel slightly more commodious, but women can usually regain elasticity by performing Kegel exercises. After a birth, the inside of the vagina is slightly less sensitive to the friction of intercourse, but childbirth typically doesn't change clitoral sensation, and most women experience orgasm through this measure.

Breastfeeding sometimes poses a concern about sex after childbirth. Some women find it difficult to see the breasts as both functional and sexual, and they may feel uncomfortable about sexual stimulation of them. A stimulated breast may also leak or spray milk, which can either be humorous or deter people from sex. Couples concerned about these issues can still have sex and merely avoid breast stimulation while it remains uncomfortable.

When people wait the time recommended by doctors, don't pressure their mates to have sex, and work on ways they can show their love and support for each other and create intimacy, their experience of sex after childbirth is likely to be favorable. Sometimes the first few encounters are little awkward. A continued commitment to remaining intimate usually reduces feelings of unease.

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Discuss this Article

Drentel
Post 2

My friend, who is married, told me that the physical feel of sex changed for him after his wife had their second child. Their first baby was born by cesarean section and he said there was no change in the sensations of intercourse after childbirth with that first pregnancy. The second child was born through natural childbirth.

Animandel
Post 1

My issues with having sex after I gave birth to each of my children had nothing to do with my body image or the changes my body had gone through during pregnancy and childbirth. I was't afraid of painful intercourse after childbirth. I didn't hate my husband.

The simple reason I was not interested in sex is that I was too tired and preoccupied with other things. For those people who are not aware, babies can absolutely suck the energy out of you, and they require attention. Those naps only last so long.

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