You’ve recently delivered your beautiful bundle of joy and are starting to adjust to your new normal. You’re trying to figure out how to keep the spark alive with your partner who has now, perhaps, taken a back seat to the needs of your little one and you’re trying to figure out where you and your needs fit into the equation. You’re also looking in the mirror and trying to recognize yourself once again in your post-baby body. That’s a lot to grapple with at one time and the idea of returning to pre-baby “extra-curricular” activities can be daunting and overwhelming. Not to mention at this point sex is probably the last thing on your mind. However, a time will come when you will start thinking about it again and this article is meant to help you think through the journey.
There is no established medical research stipulating a mandatory timeline or guideline that determines when to return to having sex after childbirth. However, many healthcare providers recommend a minimum of four to six weeks after delivery, regardless of the method of the method-natural (vaginal) or c-section (cesarean). The risk of having a complication after giving birth is highest within the first two weeks after delivery and your body will be in recovery mode after the miraculous feat it just pulled off. You will be physically, mentally, and emotionally tired from the process of childbirth, the sleep-deprived nights newborns require, and the hormonal changes your body will continue to experience for some time. When it comes to “when” you should return to sex after having a baby, the decision is yours entirely and the answer is when you feel comfortable physically, when you are sufficiently healed, and when you want to. The ball is in your court, you set the timeline because you will know when you’re ready and there is absolutely no pressure or obligation on your part to resume before then.
You may have heard stories of friends who waited for months to start having sex again because they just weren’t ready. Even if they felt physically ready, they simply weren’t in the appropriate head space to think about sex yet. You may have heard friends who experienced injuries during childbirth, like vaginal tearing that required stitches, talk about how this extended their healing period so they ended up waiting longer to resume sex. Every woman has her own delivery and post-delivery story. The trick is not letting these stories discourage or pressure you. Remember that everyone’s experience is different. The key is to take things at your own pace and communicate with your partner through it all.
Many times, partners will feel “replaced” by the baby, or rejected by you in favor of the baby, so it’s important to assure them this is not the case. There are many other ways to experience intimacy with your partner that don’t include sex. Explore those until you’re ready for sex again. Spending time together without your child, as hard as that may seem, is important, even if only for a few minutes while the baby naps or in the morning before you get busy with the day’s activities. Look for other ways to express affection and care for one another.
If you’re still feeling uncertain or are struggling, at your six-week postpartum checkup talk to your medical health provider and they will let you know when you’re physically ready to resume sexual activities. Staying in tune with yourself and really listening and being honest about what you need and when is the best way to care for yourself during this period. It’s been proven countless times that taking care of yourself mentally, physically, and emotionally will go a long way towards a speedy recovery and towards keeping the fires stoked for your partner during the interim.