Last Reviewed: April 2017
Your Changing Relationship
Sex After Baby Arrives
- Childbirth can affect your sexuality and your relationship with your partner.
- Some women feel ready to have sex sooner than others.
- Physically, it's safe to have sex again once lochia has stopped.
- Keep an open line of communication with your partner.
Adapting to motherhood can affect you both physically and mentally. These emotional and physical changes can affect your sexual relationship with your partner.
How childbirth affects sex
Childbirth causes big changes to your body and state of mind. These changes can affect your sexuality and your feelings about intimacy and sexual intercourse.
After giving birth you might experience:
Give yourself time to let your body heal.
Start having sex again when both you and your partner are ready.
- Vaginal dryness
Vaginal dryness - caused by less estrogen in your body after your baby is born - can cause some discomfort when you’re having sex. A water-based vaginal lubricant can make intercourse more pleasurable.
- Leaking breasts
Your breasts might leak milk when you're sexually aroused. If you experience leaking during sex:
- Put breast pads in your bra and wear your bra during sex.
- Feed your baby before having sex. The more empty your breasts, the less likely they'll leak during intercourse.
- Pain and discomfort after an episiotomy or tear
An episiotomy or tear in your perineum can take 2-3 weeks to heal.
Using a warm sitz bath (a bath where you sit in warm water that covers your buttocks and hips) can be soothing and help you heal faster. You can buy plastic sitz baths at most pharmacies.
Consider having sex again only when you're no longer feeling any pain or discomfort in this area.
Caring for a newborn is demanding.
Sleep or rest when your baby is sleeping and ask for help when you need it. Remember to take care of yourself.
- Dissatisfaction with your body
Like many women you might feel self-conscious about the physical changes to your body that happened during your pregnancy and after giving birth.
Remember, it took 9 months for your body to change during pregnancy, and it will take time for your body to recover after birth.
Rising and falling hormone levels after giving birth can affect how you feel emotionally. Fatigue and the demands of parenting can also affect your emotional state.
Starting to have sex again
Take time to recover
Physically, it’s safe to start having sex again once your lochia (vaginal bleeding) has stopped. This can take up to 6 weeks after your baby is born.
Some women feel more physically and emotionally ready to have sex sooner than others.
In the first few weeks after bringing baby home, you might be hesitant to have sex. This is completely normal. Give yourself time to let your body heal and start having sex again when both you and your partner are ready. Remember to talk about your feelings with your partner.
See your doctor/midwife for your 6-week postpartum check up. This is a good opportunity to discuss available birth control options and any other concerns you might have about your recovery.
Keeping your relationship strong
As you adjust to your new role as a mother and you get more sleep, you'll likely become more interested in sex.
Keep an open line of communication with your partner. Share your feelings and tell your partner if you're feeling pressured to have sex.
Keep your relationship with your partner strong by:
- Talking about your shared interests (other than the baby).
- Talking about your concerns about work and life balance.
- Just spending time together.
- Going on a date.
- Having fun as a couple.
Caring for a new baby can leave you both exhausted. You can cope by:
- Taking turns sleeping-in. If one partner is rested, the other can function better.
- Going to bed earlier (and not necessarily at the same time).
- Taking naps.
Speak with a Peel Public Health Nurse
Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Caledon residents call free of charge at 905-584-2216