Welcome to parenthood! New babies are amazing, wondrous beings, aren't they? But, for someone so small, they can bring with them endless tasks. Is there any time or desire for sex?
Your new to do-list reads something like: nappies, feeding, settling, general household chores, shopping, washing, more nappies, more washing, feeding, tending to the older kids, work - the life of a parent is busy indeed. Sleep seems a pretty tall order, let alone sex. After the birth, it might be the last thing on your mind!
Both men and women can have issues with sex after birth. For men, the concern is often, "What if I hurt her?" Women, too have concerns about sex after birth, such as "will my stitches open up?" or "will it hurt or feel different for us both?" Women may not feel like sex for several weeks, months or even a year or more after birth. After giving birth, some women feel detached from their sexuality whilst they adjust to motherhood. This is a very normal response to having a new baby.
Women who have experienced physical trauma from birth are more likely to experience painful sex in the months and sometimes years after birth. In particular, a forceps birth and/or an episiotomy can often result in vaginal and perineal pain. Some other reasons why you might not feel like having sex are:
- Recovering from a long labour
- Exhausted from lack of sleep
- Sore and tender stitches
- A baby who is unsettled, perhaps having problems with feeding
- Experiencing an emotionally or physically traumatic birth
- Changing hormone levels
- Fear of another pregnancy
All of these concerns are normal and valid. It is important for couples to talk to each other about their fears and be sure to allow yourself the time you need.
When can we have sex again?
As a guide, it's best to wait for any bleeding to stop before having intercourse, to minimise the risk of infection. This can take two to six weeks. Some women wait until they have their 6-week check with their doctor or midwife. Others wait longer. For some women, sexual desire returns soon after birth, while for other women, it takes many months. Generally speaking, you can resume sex as soon as you feel physically and emotionally comfortable to do so. It's important not to have sex purely to please your partner as this can help resentment to build. Have sex when you're both ready.
After giving birth, some women feel detached from their sexuality whilst they adjust to motherhood.
Discuss your body after baby issues with Essential Baby members.
Melissa is an Essential Baby member and runs Essential Birth Consulting.