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The baby is out, and a new chapter in your life has begun where you are responsible for the care of your child. You and your partner are proud parents to your little one, and your partner has started dropping in some subtle hints indicating that he is interested in making love to you. You haven’t had sex in a while and your sex drive is low, and if you’re honest to yourself, you’ll admit that you’re afraid to have sex thinking that it might hurt. The thought of postpartum sex is bound to make new moms anxious and it’s only fair to have a million or so questions about it.
But instead of worrying about it, why not learn more about postpartum sex. Here’s everything you need to know about sex after childbirth, including when it’s safe, why it hurts, and tips to make it better (you could use these tips)!
Is Sex After Childbirth Painful?
Painful sex, which is medically known as dyspareunia is very common after childbirth. Your body has been through a lot during the nine months of pregnancy and labour, so expecting things to be business as usual within a couple of days is not fair. A study has shown that 9 out of every 10 women have experienced painful sex after delivery. So the answer to the above question is ‘yes’. Postpartum sex can be painful but it gets better with time!
How Long Should You Wait to Have Sex After Delivery?
If you were to ask this question to your obstetrician, she would suggest that you wait for at least 4-6 weeks before getting under the sheets with your partner. Post childbirth, your body will need some time to heal, and having sex soon after pregnancy can lead to issues such as rupturing of any stitches, infections and excruciating pain to name just a few. However, if after 6 weeks you still experience pain then worry not as this too is normal. If you had a C-section, your incision will take some time to heal, so it’s better that you wait. Consult your doctor if you want to resume sex prior to the six weeks period. She will make sure if your postpartum bleeding has stopped before giving you the green light. The bottom line? Once you get a go-ahead from your doctor and you’re ready and comfortable, you can have six with your spouse.
Why Does Sex Hurt After Pregnancy?
Here are some reasons why you would experience sexual pain after childbirth.
1. Increase in Vaginal Size
After a vaginal birth, the vagina will be larger than before and will take some time to return back to its normal size. There may be swelling as well as bruising which would result in painful intercourse.
2. Dry Vagina
While breastfeeding, the body produces lower levels of oestrogen which may lead to issues such as a dry vagina. As a result, during penetration, you may experience pain because of too much friction on the vaginal walls.
When you face issues during childbirth, such as the baby is too large or is in breech position, an episiotomy is performed. This is when the doctor makes an incision between the vagina and the anus, to help in delivery. This will take some time to heal and sex during this time may lead to not just pain but rupturing of the stitches.
After the baby is born, you are likely to experience heavy bleeding during the initial few days, which is also known as lochia. This is part of the cleansing process as the uterus is shedding its inner lining.
5. Caesarean Birth
While it may seem puzzling that vaginal bleeding takes place after a caesarean, but it does happen. While bleeding is significantly lower as most of the blood is taken out during surgery, the cervix will still need to be closed for safe sex. Painful sex after c section is a reality and is a common occurrence.
After childbirth, in addition to vaginal dryness and scarring, women sometimes experience involuntary muscular spasms. These are painful and can lead to poor sexual stimulation.
Tips to Make Intercourse Less Painful after having a Baby
There will come a day when you will be ready for sex with your partner, but that does not mean you won’t be anxious. To prepare yourself for that day (or night) better, here’s what you can do to make sure that sex after childbirth is somewhat less painful and more fun!
- Kegel Exercises can help strengthen the pelvic floor which can lead to faster recovery after childbirth. These can be done by simply tightening the pelvic floor muscles for about ten seconds. Relax and then repeat the process again. For best results, perform these kegel exercises while you are pregnant.
- If vaginal dryness is the cause of pain, you could try using lubrication to reduce friction while performing sex.
- If the pain is too intense, rest it out for a couple of days as delivering a baby takes a toll on the body. Once you feel that your body has healed, you can resume having intercourse.
- You and your partner can indulge in gentle love-making where you can experiment and find an area where there is no pain and keep the focus there. The woman on top is one position where you can control the penetration, so the pain regions can be avoided.
- If the pain refuses to go down, then know that there are different way to get sexually aroused apart from penetration. Try asking your partner to go down on you (oral sex) or you could even try mutual masturbation
Sex after childbirth will hurt most likely but that does not mean you should not have sex even when you’re ready for it, both mentally and physically. Once you have healed completely, talk to your partner about what you’d like and share your fears, he will understand. Have an open conversation with him and enjoy the much-needed intimate moments with your spouse!