During pregnancy and birth, the female body performs true miracles. The time following the birth is a very special one, a time to get to know the new member of the family and gradually get used to one another. One subject that doesn’t get much attention – understandably – is sex and intimacy between new parents. Sex straight after having a baby isn’t really a good idea anyway, though. We reveal why that’s the case, when you can start to think about having sex again and what new parents can expect when they have sex for the first time following the birth.
Why you shouldn’t have sex straight after having a baby
Most women (and often men, too) barely have any interest in sex after a baby is born. This is because your new family member turns your life upside down, you barely get any sleep and everything feels new and unfamiliar anyway. On the other hand, it also wouldn’t be a good idea to have sex straight away from a health point of view. When the placenta detaches from the wall of the uterus, it leaves behind a wound that needs to heal completely first. If you have unprotected sex during this healing phase, you risk getting an infection. There’s a reason why women have lochia, the period of post-partum bleeding. Once this bleeding has stopped, as a general rule the wound will also have healed. In addition, the pelvic floor and vagina also need to recover from the exertions of childbirth and contract again. For couples who want to be sexually active earlier, it is essential that you use a condom for protection. Otherwise, as we’ve already said, you run the risk of contracting an infection if you have sex after the birth of a baby.
When you can have sex again after pregnancy
Gynaecologists advise waiting four to six weeks after delivery before having sex again. The point at which the bleeding stops is a good indication, and women can be guided by this. For some women, the bleeding stops relatively quickly, while for others it lasts longer. Women who have had a Caesarean section or had an episiotomy or perineal tear often wonder if this will mean it may take longer before they are able to have sex again after having a baby. Essentially, that’s not the case. However, it may mean that women experience pain when having sex after childbirth. Yet all women can in fact have pain during sex after they’ve had a baby. A woman’s intimate area is still very sensitive, even several weeks after the birth. There can be a big difference in the time it takes before couples want to have sex again. For some it is sooner, while others want to wait longer, and it should only happen when both of them really want it.
Having sex for the first time after the birth – how does it feel?
Having sex for the first time after having a baby is usually kind of strange, for both the man and the woman. Sometimes this experience is even compared with having sex for the first time. Memories of the birth, and the physical changes too, are still very much present. What’s more, many women find it painful the first time they have sex after having a baby – whether that’s because the man’s penis nudges against the uterus, which has not yet completely shrunk back to its pre-pregnancy size, or because the Caesarean scar or the perineal scar from an episiotomy or tear is painful. However, women don’t need to worry that sex won’t feel the same as it did before. The vagina and uterus usually shrink back to normal size relatively quickly. A woman’s external sex organs will be back to normal within five to seven days following delivery. If you have had perineal stitches, this can take up to 14 days. Following a difficult birth, the swelling and bruising may also take a couple of weeks to heal. However, even after the post-partum bleeding has stopped, it is still possible for women to experience pain or discomfort during sex. In addition, many breastfeeding mothers also suffer from vaginal dryness. This is due to the low oestrogen levels in breastfeeding women. As a result, the mucous glands in the vagina secrete less mucus – and women therefore have less natural lubrication. Women can use a personal lubricant to help them with this, though. Not only can this provide the moisture needed, but it also nourishes the intimate area, too.
One more important tip: Many people mistakenly think that you can’t get pregnant again straight away while you’re breastfeeding. That’s not true. Although very high concentrations of the breastfeeding hormone prolactin can suppress ovulation, it no longer suppresses ovulation if you go more than four hours between breastfeeding. So you should definitely be thinking about contraception!
Having sex for the first time after having a baby – what’s it like for men?
The first time you have sex after having a baby is also a little strange for men, too. Not only are they a new dad, but they also witnessed the birth. It can be strange for them, too, to think that a child has come into the world through their partner’s vagina. So it’s completely normal for men to have no real interest in sex at first after the birth. What’s more, they’re often afraid of hurting their partner. But men shouldn’t be scared of touching their partner. The important thing is to make sure that you’re gentle the first time you have sex after the baby is born.
Make a little time to spend with each other – or try to, at least. After all, happy parents usually have happy children 😊