How Soon Can You Be Intimate After Giving Birth?
During pregnancy, your body receives no shortage of attention … in the form of doctor exams and medical tests. After you give birth, your body receives a whole different type of attention, this time from your little bundle of joy. With a lot of your time being divided between playtime and post-pregnancy checkups, you may find yourself longing for some intimate “mommy and daddy” time.
Though most doctors say to wait until your four- to six-week postpartum check-up, there really is no timetable set in stone. As long as you have your doctor’s go-ahead, and your physical, mental and emotional health is on track – you can ease back into intimacy.
The Technical Timetable
Just because having a baby is a common experience doesn't mean that it affects your body in a common way. Even if you're healthy and you have an easy birth, you still need time to heal. Most experts advise you to wait until your four- to six-weeks, with six weeks being more common. If you had to have stitches from an episiotomy or surgery, you may even need to wait a little longer. Make sure you’re open with your doctor, as he or she can help tell you when intimacy is right for you and your body. It’s always better to wait until you are completely healed and ready, rather than risk possible infection, injury and pain.
Some women feel comfortable with intimacy after four- to six-weeks, but that doesn't mean your individual body will be ready – or not ready, for that matter. On the other hand, at eight weeks you might still find you're still too tired or too sore. The key is to listen to your body and don’t rush into anything until you feel physically ready.
If you are ready to rekindle the sparks but are experiencing vaginal dryness or light pain even after you've healed, a personal lubricant, such as K-Y Jelly, maybe all the help you need to feel comfortable. Women who breastfeed are more prone to vaginal dryness, but pregnancy hormones make dryness pretty common.
How you feel emotionally is just as important as how you feel physically. Luckily, there's no rule about when you should feel emotionally ready. Some women worry about getting pregnant again too soon or find they're self-conscious about their post-pregnancy bodies. Some couples are so tired out from being new parents that they're both happy to spend their free time sleeping or cuddling.
A new baby changes everything from your sleeping and eating schedule to the relationship you have with your partner, and that’s going to take some time to get used to. Talk with your partner about when is best for both of you. Chances are, where it concerns your new family and your relationship, he is on the same page as you are.
Other Forms of Intimacy
If you're not sure you're ready to be physically intimate or you're just not in the mood, try initiating other intimate activities, such as cuddling, kissing or just sharing close physical contact. Not only can a simple caress satisfy your need for intimacy (at least for the time being), but it may also make you feel closer to your partner.
- Mayo Clinic: Sex After Birth: Set Your Own Timeline
- BabyCenter: Let's Talk About Sex: After the Baby
- What to Expect: 6 Common Sex-After-Pregnancy Problems and Solutions
- BabyCenter: Sex After Birth
Teresa is a Planned Parenthood certified responsible sexuality educator. Over the past decade, she has worked in her community as a sexuality and healthy relationships educator, pregnancy options counselor and domestic violence victim advocate.