Sex after pregnancy: Resuming your sex life after birth may take time. This article discusses when you can have sex after birth and the impact of breastfeeding on sex.
Neither of you may feel like having sex for a while after your baby is born due to tiredness and shifting priorities. Your libido may return at different times and you might both have anxieties about resuming your sex life. Don’t feel pressured to resume sexual activity and don’t pressure your partner. Everybody is different and for some people it can take a long time before they feel ready.
You may both have concerns about post-birth sex: will it hurt? Will it feel different? How often will you have sex, or when will you have the time? Talk about your concerns openly and remember that there are other ways of showing affection. You can have physical closeness without full sex and it may make both of you more comfortable that you can have a cuddle without it having to lead to anything else. Let your partner know that you still have sexual feelings for her, but that you will wait for the right time for both of you.
When you do resume sex, take things gently as you might both be nervous. Be prepared to find a position that puts least pressure on any parts that are still sore and don’t penetrate too deeply. You could try:
- Spoons, where you lie on your side with your knees up and your back towards your partner, so that you can enter from behind.
- Side-by-side, where you lie facing one another with your leg over your partner’s side.
Remember additional lubrication will make all the difference. Importantly, don’t forget contraception. Your partner can become pregnant before her periods return.
Most couples will do what feels right for them in their own time. No-one can say when you will be ready for sex again part from the two of you. Many couples wait, at least, for mum to have her six-week postnatal check up with her GP. It is also advisable to wait until the post-birth bleeding has stopped (often between 10 to 14 days, but it can continue for several weeks). This is because your partner’s uterus will still be healing and if you have sex before the bleeding has stopped there’s a possibility that you could introduce an infection. Also, until her periods start again, your partner's body will not produce oestrogen. This is the hormone that helps her get in the mood and produces vaginal lubrication. Without that lubrication, making love can be uncomfortable or even painful.
If your partner is breastfeeding then her sexuality is likely to be affected by a number of factors, including low levels of oestrogen, which may lead to:
- Vaginal dryness
- Reduced desire
- A less sensitive clitoris.
Another effect of breastfeeding is that levels of testosterone (the ‘male’ hormone that boosts libido) may also fall, and prolactin (the milk supply hormone) rises. Oxytocin – the hormone that makes her milk flow – is also released during orgasm, so your partner’s breasts may leak during sex.
You should also bear in mind, that although your partners breasts may be larger than they were before her pregnancy, that they may also be far more sensitive and tender. Check with her that it’s ok for you to touch them. If she is happy for you to do so bear in mind the following:
- If you suck on her nipples, her breasts may release sweet-tasting milk – this may take you by surprise.
- You should also avoid going straight from oral sex to nipple-sucking as you may transfer the organism that causes thrush.
As with sex during the pregnancy , go slowly and let your partner take the lead.
- It’s not selfish to want a love life, even with a baby on the scene.
- Start slowly with cuddles, kisses and hand-holding.
- Be honest with each other about how you are feeling.
Try and plan some time alone together. Let a friend or relative have the baby for a while so that you can both have some alone time together.
Your sex life can change for the better. Remember that if your love life or even your relationship deteriorates in the first months of being a family, it often gets better again – so keep those lines of communication open.
NCT's helpline offers practical and emotional support in all areas of pregnancy, birth and early parenthood: 0300 330 0700.
Relate provides advice on relationships after having had a baby.
Family lives provides help and support in all aspects of family life.