Pregnancy and childbirth are different for everyone. After welcoming your newborn, sex may well be the last thing on your mind. Or you might be keen to resume your regular sex life, particularly if you have not had sex towards the end of your pregnancy. No matter what pace you are moving at, LBDO’s seven postpartum sex tips can help.
1. Give yourself time to heal
After childbirth, your body is in a healing phase. Having sex too soon can be dangerous and increase the risk of postpartum complications such as haemorrhaging or uterine infection. The risk is highest in the first two weeks after birth.
Although it differs from person to person, doctors usually recommend avoiding penetrative sex for four to six weeks after a caesarean or vaginal delivery. This includes vaginal and anal sex, both of which can disrupt stitches, introduce infection, and interrupt healing. You will likely have a postpartum appointment around six weeks after giving birth, where your doctor will examine you and let you know whether you’re healed enough for sex to be safe and comfortable.
Another way of feeling out when you might be ready is to wait until you're no longer bleeding or emitting any discharge. This means your uterus and the uterine lining is likely healed. If you feel ready before your postpartum checkup, make sure to get the ok from your doctor and remember to start slow. Everyone is different, so don’t be concerned if it takes longer than you expected to resume your usual sexual activity. There are many common physical and emotional factors that delay beyond the six to eight week mark.
2. Check in with your emotions
Your doctor will tell you when you’re physically prepared for sex, but only you know when you’re emotionally ready. Having a baby can significantly impact on your sex drive. Postpartum depression and anxiety are common, and childbirth and welcoming a new baby are significant life events. Along with fatigue, hormonal changes, and emotional stressors, body image issues can strongly influence whether you feel ready or not for sex.
3. Communicate with your partner
Be open about your respective sex drives. It’s common for partners to have different levels of desire, especially after childbirth. The important thing is that you create and maintain a direct line of communication, and check in regularly. Your emotional and physical wellbeing is paramount, and there are ways other than penetrative sex to be intimate with your partner.
4. Engage in non-penetrative sex
If you feel like it, outercourse can be safe much sooner than penetrative sex after giving birth. Take things slowly, maybe with oral sex or mutual masturbation rather than penetrative sex. Avoid your vaginal area and perineum, and focus instead on your clitoris or other erogenous zones. Start with fingers, and consider using a vibrator (like our Essensual Vibe) on a gentle setting.
5. Ease into it
When you’re feeling up to trying penetration, take it slow. Spend time indulging in sensual foreplay to really get you in the mood. Don’t feel like you need to jump straight back into the type of sex you were having before childbirth. Build up the depth and speed of penetration gradually, assessing what feels good as you go - and crucially, (as per our next tip) don’t forget the lube!
6. Use plenty of lube
Lube is so important it gets its own list item. Many people experience postpartum vaginal dryness due to hormonal changes (levels of oestrogen are low after childbirth, and remain low if you are breastfeeding).
Dryness and friction are not conducive to penetrative sex at the best of times, let alone after giving birth. It can lead to pain, micro-tearing and an increased risk of infection, all things you want to avoid.
Look for a water or silicone based lube, preferably formulated without parabens that will be gentle on your skin. Our Essensual Lube, which is a 100% natural water-based lubricant made with Certified Organic and hydrating Aloe Vera, is a great option to reduce the risk of irritation and infection.
7. Consider birth control
You can become pregnant as soon as three weeks after childbirth, so contraception is essential for preventing unintended pregnancy. Discuss your birth control options with your doctor before or after delivery. Most of the usual options, including the IUD, implant, diaphragm and contraceptive pills, are likely to be available to you shortly after childbirth. And of course, condoms are always an effective form of immediate contraception.