Returning to sex after a baby

If you have just had a baby, then you might know how daunting the thought of having sex again can feel. Having a baby is one of the biggest life changes a person can go through and it is definitely a big deal for your physical body. Did you know that when you give birth vaginally your pelvic floor muscles stretch to 1.5 to 3 times their normal length?!

During this process, muscles and skin can tear, things look and feel different and you may have had some trauma from your birth as well. Not to mention that you now have a little precious being that relies on you for survival. If sex is the last thing on your mind then that’s okay. If you don’t want to have sex for weeks, months or years, then that’s also fine. But if you do want to go back to having sex, but are scared if it will damage your stitches, hurt, feel different or not be enjoyable, then you are not alone.

There’s a few things that will be different from a physical point of view postnatally, so here are some tips to getting your mojo back in the 4th trimester and beyond:

  • Wait at least 6 weeks: Generally speaking you want to wait 6 weeks postpartum prior to having sex again and ideally after you have clearance from your treating health care professional.
  • Start slow and with outercourse: Sex looks like lots of different things. If you aren’t ready for full penetrative sex, then start with the outside. Oral sex is a good place to start, gentle touching or clitoral stimulation externally is also a fantastic way to get you back into your sexual body. Don’t feel like you have to rush straight back into penetration – particularly if you have had perineal tearing, you may need a little more time to desensitise the area prior to having intercourse. If you need more help with perineal scar tissue massage click here.
  • LUBE! Think copious amounts of lubrication and then double that. That’s a good place to start. The more the better. During the postnatal period and particularly when you are breast feeding you will have less oestrogen than usual. Oestrogen controls cervical mucus production and when you are breast feeding or in the initial period postnatally you will have less mucus than usual, which can lead to vaginal dryness. Additionally, if you are apprehensive about pain or discomfort the more lube you use the more likely you are to have a smooth and easy entry if you are having penetrative sex. You can purchase BIEN Intimate Gel here.
  • Self-sex/masturbation: Getting back in touch with your own body, seeing what it feels like after it has birthed a human and seeing what you enjoy and don’t enjoy at this point in your life is so important and it may not be the same as prior to birth. Starting with a toy, your hand or anything else you find pleasure in, can be helpful to start to get you feeling your sexy, aroused self.
  • Taking the pressure off: There is no rush to get back into sex after a baby. There is no “right” time and there is no “time limit”. Some people will get back to having sex after 6 weeks, some people will take a year. Whatever it looks like for you is all right. Sex might not be possible or a priority right now and that’s okay.
  • Get help if you are feeling stuck: If sex is a priority or if you want it to be and you are struggling to get back into sex postnatally, then seeking professional help is defiantly warranted. Depending on why you are finding it hard there are lots of people who specialise in this area. A women’s health physiotherapist can help with physical pain, scar management, pelvic floor function and orgasmic potential. A sexologist or psychologist can explore any trauma, self-esteem blocks, relaxation strategies and helping you discover what sex looks like for you at this period in life.