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When can I have sex after giving birth?

Written by Lauren White
Feb 5, 2020   •   
When can I have sex after giving birth?
It’s a question so many women feel too scared to ask. When can I have sex after giving birth? Is there a right time to be having sex again? I've had my 6 week check – should I be into it again by now? Now, if you've just had a baby and you're thinking: this question has not even crossed my mind yet – you're not alone. Low interest and desire for sex is completely natural after you've been through the biggest marathon of your life. So, whether it's you asking when you can have sex again or your partner asking when sex can start happening, there's only one answer: You can have sex whenever you feel physically, emotionally and mentally ready to.* Your sense of readiness is most important. Having sex when you don’t feel ready can hold back sexual and emotional intimacy, especially if there's pain or discomfort. The better the experience for you, the more likely you are to want to do it again.

How will I know I am ready to have sex after giving birth?

If you can, take a moment to define what sex is for you. Give yourself permission to broaden your definition of sex beyond penetration or intercourse. The first sex you have after giving birth doesn't have to be penetrative sex. In fact, as a sex therapist and Mum, I don't recommend it. Re-familiarising yourself with being sexual needs a gentler approach. Outercourse is the perfect way to bring back the playfulness of sex and gently test if you have any new limits in your body. Explore each other’s bodies on the outside without anything entering you. Using only external stimulation gives you some time to drop into presence and notice what you feel – without the pressure of penetration looming. If you feel dry, use lubricant. Your oestrogen levels will probably still be on the low side after birth and especially if you're breastfeeding (1).

You'll know you're ready to be sexual again in a couple of ways:

  • Your partner initiates and it isn't a 'no way' – it's a 'maybe' or getting closer to a 'yes'. This doesn't mean you want to yet but you're getting warmer to the idea of it.
  • You're thinking/fantasising about being sexual again (desire) and/or feeling a little turned on in your body (arousal).
  • You're dreaming about sex in those precious moments where you get to sleep.
  • You're feeling a little stronger and a little less depleted in your body.
  • Initiating sexual or erotic touch feels empowering after giving birth.
  • You have a willingness and a curiosity to try being sexual.
  • You have some energy in the tank to give and it would feel affirming to receive.
Having sex for the first time after giving birth is personal. It's completely up to you when and how that happens. If you feel apprehensive, let your partner know you need to take things slow and that slow will get you closer to your desired sex life sooner. Your sex life is probably going to look and feel different than it used to and that's OK. You've done something incredible and life changing and that's a very sexy thing. *If you had a complicated birth and/or birth trauma, you may want to discuss this topic in greater depth with your psychologist and physiotherapist. Lauren is a qualified sexologist who assists her many satisfied clients to drop the anxiety and reinvigorate their sexual power in their intimate lives. Through her one-on-one sessions, writing and online classes, she helps women to release their physical and psychological blocks so that they can liberate their libidos for sex and life. Need help? Watch my free masterclass for women who want to want sex but don’t know where to start.   References:  (1) Barrett, G., Pendry, E., Peacock, J., Victor, C., Thakar, R., Manyonda, I. (2000). Women's sexual health after childbirth. BJOG. 107(2): 186-195.
Written by Lauren White
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