Sex after a baby: 10 questions to ask yourself
Wondering how soon you can have sex after giving birth? Here are some questions you should ask yourself to figure out what’s right for you.
1. Do I feel ready for sex?
This is pretty important. One study found that 65% of couples had tried to have sex eight weeks after birth, followed by 78% of couples at 12 weeks (McDonald and Brown, 2013) . Yet most couples don’t go back to their pre-pregnancy sex frequency until closer to 12 months after their baby’s birth (Jawed-Wessel and Sevick, 2017) . The timing is very much up to you.
2. Am I worried that my partner wants to have sex?
If you aren’t ready but your partner is, reassure them that you’re not pushing them away. This is just a temporary situation while you get your head around the demands of a small human and letting your body recover from the birth.
Your partner’s moves over to your side of the bed are likely because they still love and fancy you and want you to know it. Still, never feel under pressure to do anything you are not 100% ready for.
It might sound like a cliché but communication and a mutual understanding of each other’s needs can help keep a loving relationship alive. You might also want to remind your partner that your focus on your baby doesn’t take away from your love for them. That you’re not pushing them away.
"If you’re tense and worried about sex, your vaginal muscles may not relax, making it painful, difficult and sometimes even impossible (NHS Choices, 2018) . Sex is more likely if you make time to relax together" (NHS Choices, 2016) .
3. Am I worried about having sex post-baby?
You might be thinking ‘Will it feel different?’ or ‘How will we ever find the energy to do anything more than collapse on this bed?’
You might start by gently exploring for yourself first your vagina to discover whether there is any pain or change (NHS Choices, 2016) . You could then discuss the changes to your body with your partner and how you want to be touched. You might want to use a lubricant and make sure you are fully aroused before penetration (NHS Choices, 2016) and try positions that limit penetration.
You could also grab a chat with your health visitor or GP to go through your questions about post-baby sex. If you experience any pain, see your GP (NHS Choices, 2016) .
4. Am I rushing into post-baby sex because I’m worried I’ll lose closeness with my partner?
If that’s the case, there are plenty of other ways to maintain that bond. With everything from cuddling up in front of a film to doing anything else you fancy in bed that doesn’t involve intercourse.
5. How will the type of birth I had affect sex?
If you had an uncomplicated vaginal birth, you can pick up your sex life whenever you want (NHS Choices, 2016) . Although if you feel tired, bruised or have some grazing that may sting, you may want to take it gently. Your health visitor will probably check in with you about pain or difficulties around sex about two to six weeks after the birth (NICE, 2006) .
If you had a caesarean section, you should wait until you’ve fully recovered to have intercourse (NICE, 2011) . If your scar is still sensitive, you could find some positions that don’t put pressure on it.
6. Will my tear or cut (episiotomy) affect sex?
Let yourself recover first. Your stitches should dissolve after 10 days and by two weeks you should be healing well.
If you had stitches after an episiotomy or a first- or second-degree tear, it can take up to a month to heal (NHS Choices, 2017a) . For third and fourth degree tears, wait until you’ve stopped bleeding and your tear has healed before having sex again (RCOG, 2015) .
With stitching, when you’re ready to have sex again, you’ll want to take things slowly and gently. You could try positions that limit penetration or reduce the pressure on the stitched area. If sex is painful or difficult when you do try, speak to your GP. Any initial pain is likely to fade quickly.
7. Will how I am feeding my baby affect sex?
This may seem unrelated but actually, if you’re breastfeeding, hormones can cause vaginal dryness and a dip in libido (Riordan, 2005; NHS Choices, 2015) . See our Breastfeeding and sex article for more details.
Your breasts may be less of an erogenous zone than they used to be and you may find that the oxytocin released during breastfeeding means you crave affection less elsewhere. On the other hand, as our bodies are never simple, you may find that breastfeeding actually increases your arousal levels.
8. Have I thought about contraception?
Very important information: you can get pregnant soon after the birth of your baby. This can happen even if you are breastfeeding and your periods haven’t reappeared. So make sure you look into your options for contraception and discuss it with your health visitor, midwife, GP or contraception clinic (NHS Choices, 2017b) .
9. Am I putting it off as I’m worrying about my baby being in the room?
Such a common one, trust us. Yet your baby won’t understand what’s going on. Your noises are completely familiar to them from their time in your womb and hearing them from outside will not upset them. Plus they won’t care what you’re up to.
Just be careful if your baby is in the bed with you or move them into their cot. You might also want to choose a time when your baby is less likely to interrupt things, like after a feed.
10. Am I ready to be honest?
If sex hurts, say it. If you need your partner to be gentler, say it. If you need extra foreplay, say it. If you need to nip to the chemist and buy some lube, say it. If you just want to chill out in front of the TV, say it. See a GP and say it to them if something doesn’t feel right.
This page was last reviewed in February 2018
Our support line offers practical and emotional support with feeding your baby and general enquiries for parents, members and volunteers: 0300 330 0700.
You might find attending one of our Early Days groups helpful as they give you the opportunity to explore different approaches to important parenting issues with a qualified group leader and other new parents in your area.
Make friends with other parents-to-be and new parents in your local area for support and friendship by seeing what NCT activities are happening nearby.
Jawed-Wessel S, Sevick E (2017) The impact of pregnancy and childbirth on sexual behaviors: A systematic review. The Journal of Sex Research, 54(4-5): 411-423. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00224499.2016.1274715 [Accessed 1st February 2018].
McDonald EA, Brown SJ (2013) Does method of birth make a difference to when women resume sex after childbirth? BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecolog. 120(7): 823-830. Available from: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1471-0528.12166/full [Accessed 1st February 2018].
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NHS Choices. (2018). Vaginismus. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaginismus/ [Accessed 1st February 2018].
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How Soon Can You Drive After Delivering a Baby?
About the Author:
Sarahlynne Davis has been a professional educator since 2003. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and government from Skidmore College, a Master of Education in literacy from the University of San Diego and an English teaching license from Indiana Wesleyan University.
Driving uses many of the muscles a woman uses during labor and delivery of a child. Therefore, a recovering mother must heal before she gets behind the wheel. Listen to your body when it comes to getting back to day-to-day activities after childbirth. Depending on the difficulty of the labor and delivery, a new mom will be able to drive within a few days or weeks.
Driving after a Vaginal Birth
Brigham and Women’s Hospital advises new moms to keep physical activity to a minimum for a few days following a vaginal birth. If your bleeding is minimal and there’s no dizziness, however, short drives should not be an issue. New moms should wait at least six weeks before a long drive, however.
Driving After a C-section
C-sections require a much longer recovery. New moms are not able to lift anything more than the baby’s weight, so lifting a car seat is not feasible. You will also not be able to twist for a few weeks, so lifting the baby out of the car or putting him may be painful. Additionally, you will not have the abdominal muscles to press down on the brake pedal in an emergency. Therefore, new moms who had C-sections should wait until after the three-week postpartum appointment to drive.
Once baby arrives, driving is no longer as simple as hopping in the car and backing out of the driveway. A new mom will have to plan outings to coincide with times when baby is not hungry. You will have to take the extra time to pack a diaper bag, change his diaper and place him into the infant seat, which will then need to be locked into position in the car. A new mom may be too tired in the beginning to handle all of these extra steps, so staying at home until you feel a little more energized may be the best solution.
Recovering from Childbirth
Childbirth is a traumatic physical process for a woman requiring time for the body to heal. You may bleed vaginally, experience soreness and fatigue. If you are breast-feeding, you may be dealing with sore and engorged breasts. It is important for any new mom to get as much rest as possible to allow the body to heal; therefore, driving may not be a priority for a couple of weeks.