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Resuming Your Sex Life After Childbirth

Chief Editor | Published on April 22, 2023

Your whole life might seem to revolve around your baby after delivery, but that doesn’t mean that sexual intimacy between you and your partner can’t resume.

Like many other women in your situation, however, you may be apprehensive about sex after childbirth for fear that it might bring about pain, discomfort or negative physical effects. Psychologically, you may also have reservations about having sex due to anxiety or the worry of no longer being physically and sexually attractive to your partner. Or, the cause of the prolonged dry spell could simply be fatigue.

This guide aims to help you get your sex life safely back on track after childbirth and, more importantly, let sex add to your happiness as a couple once again.

Time it Right

The main concern about having sex too early after a natural delivery is vaginal bleeding. Given that this entails the risk of infection, it’s recommended to wait at least a week after bleeding stops before resuming sex — this may be roughly 4 to 6 weeks after childbirth. Women who’ve had an episiotomy need to hold off on sex until the stitches are removed and her doctor gives the go-ahead; the same goes for women who have had complications during childbirth.

Go Slow

Sexual intimacy doesn’t need to resume with penetration. “In the first few months after delivery, women and their spouses should understand and appreciate the fact that other means of sexual pleasure, such as mutual masturbation, can be enjoyed on its own without the expectation of it having to lead to penetrative sex,” says Dr Tan Thiam Chye, an obstetrician and gynaecologist. “Even cuddling skin-to-skin in bed can be useful in reducing anxiety and re-cultivating sexual intimacy over time.”

Exercise

If working out sounds like a cure all for pregnancy-related issues by now, then it probably is. Exercise, even for a few minutes a day, releases the feel-good hormone endorphin. This can put couples in a better mood for sex and help new mums reverse their pregnancy weight gain, as well as restore their libido and confidence about their physical appearance. In particular, pelvic floor (kegel) exercises can restore your vagina’s muscle tone and may even give you and your partner greater pleasure during sex.

Lubricate

Your vagina is likely to be drier in the months after childbirth, especially if you breastfeed. “Breastfeeding results in lower oestrogen levels, which causes vaginal dryness,” says Dr Tan. “Using a lubricant can supplement a woman’s natural secretions to ease sexual penetration.”

To maximise pleasure during sex, be game to try different brand of lubricants when you attempt intercourse, until you settle on a favourite. Some lubricants may contain ingredients that might sting or irritate depending on your skin’s sensitivity. So, before going all the way with a new lubricant, first use a small amount to massage your vagina, or for the all-important foreplay!

Think Different

When you reboot your sex drive, the positions you enjoyed the most with your partner before pregnancy may no longer feel as pleasurable. Some positions may also feel uncomfortable as they put pressure on areas that are still sensitive post-childbirth. Go for slower strokes and explore different positions, preferably those that give you, the woman, more control over the depth and speed of penetration.

Communicate

If you’ve not already realised, communication is also key to a fulfilling sex life post-pregnancy. Be frank and upfront with your partner on how you’re feeling, what works (or doesn’t) for you and guide him if you need to.

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