Pregnancy changes a lot about your body, as well as your sex life and your body needs some time off after giving birth.
Most midwives recommend for postnatal women to wait 6 weeks following a vaginal delivery. You may also need to wait longer if you have a perineal tear or episiotomy – everything should be pain free down below. If you had a c-section delivery make sure your incision site feels well healed and comfortable with no pain or tenderness.
During your recovery period your uterus will shrink back to a non pregnant state, your postnatal bleeding will become lighter and eventually cease and your pelvic floor will need to regain strength (check out the NHS Squeezy App for how-to pelvic floor exercises!)
You made a beautiful baby with your partner so it’s normal to want to be loving and intimate with them again; it’s also normal to be tired (you have a little human relying on you!) or anxious or apprehensive and your partner may be too as they may be concerned they will hurt you.
Ensure you have the time and space to focus on eachother so you can be relaxed. Start off slowly; you may wish to explore other ways of being intimate without penetration to begin with. You may wish to use some water based lubricant as lots of women experience vaginal dryness after pregnancy and birth. If penetration is painful make sure you keep an open dialogue with your partner. This is important as you do not want to start to view sex as unpleasant or negative. If challenges with pain, bleeding or vaginal dryness persist then you can discuss these with your GP for support and advice. However, most women will find with time and TLC that things will become better and more enjoyable!
You may have concerns about conceiving again quickly and if you’re not ready to expand your family straight away you may want to find a reliable form of contraception that’s a good fit for you. It’s worth remembering you can ovulate as early as day 28 post delivery!
If you’re breastfeeding, the hormonal benefits of nursing can act as a “natural” form of birth control known as the Lactation Amenorrhea Method (LAM) for the first 6 months after delivery. It’s important to note you have to be breastfeeding exclusively – day and night at least every 3 hours with no
feeds given by bottle or any other supplement given to baby. Otherwise this method is not reliable.
There are also a number of forms which are safe with breastfeeding such as the Progestogen Only Pill (POP), Implant and Progestogen Only Injectable. It’s recommended to start these by day 21 post delivery for the chosen method to be effective by day 28. If you are undecided on what method to choose then a barrier method such as condoms is recommended and reliable if used properly. Your midwife and GP can both advise you and provide free contraceptives.