1. Wait until you get the green light—From your doctor or midwife, that is. When you were discharged from the hospital, you were probably told to wait six weeks, so wait! And if at your postpartum check-up you are told you are not yet healed enough for sex, you should listen to that, too. Your body needs to recover after giving birth, whether it was a vaginal or Cesarean birth.
2. Wait until you are ready—On the flip side, if your doctor says you are all cleared for sex but you don’t feel up to it quite yet, don’t let anyone pressure you to do it. You need to feel ready, both mentally and physically, and when that occurs varies from woman to woman.
3. Use birth control—Unless you meet the strict criteria for lactational amenorrhea, you should plan on using birth control if you don’t want to become pregnant again. Yes, you can get pregnant before your first period after having a baby, so be prepared! Talk with your doctor or midwife after you deliver or at your postpartum visit to see what method is right for you.
4. Make sure baby is taken care of—Do whatever makes you feel comfortable to ensure your baby is fine so you can give all your attention to the task at hand. For some, that means leaving the baby monitor on, and for others it means shutting it off temporarily so they can fully focus. If you are breastfeeding, nursing your baby before you have sex can help your breasts feel more comfortable during the act.
5. Consider wearing a bra—Speaking of breasts, it is normal for them to be larger and feel more sensitive, especially if you are nursing. Leaking milk also commonly happens during orgasm. Some new moms wear a supportive bra to address these issues.
6. Set low expectations—You may start to have sex the first time only to stop because it hurts too much or you are scared. Or maybe your baby decides to wake up right when you are in the middle of things. Whatever the case may be, realize that overblown expectations put more stress on everyone involved. Setting the bar (temporarily) low will keep you from fixating on not having the “perfect” sex life right away.
7. Speak up if it hurts—Don’t grin and bear it for your partner’s sake or because you feel guilty that he hasn’t been able to have sex since your baby’s been born. If it hurts, say so.
8. Use lube if needed—Vaginal dryness is common after having a baby thanks to the drastic drop in estrogen levels, and this is more pronounced in women who breastfeed. This can make sex painful. Be sure to allow time for adequate foreplay, and use a lubricant if you need it.
9. Try different positions—Again, if it hurts, say something. Trial and error may be needed to find a comfortable position at first.
10. Get creative—You may need to creatively sneak in sex during nap times, or have sex other than in the bedroom if that is where your baby sleeps. Use this as an opportunity to think outside the box!
11. Stop criticizing yourself—You shouldn’t expect your body to look exactly like it did before you had a baby if your little one is only 6 weeks old. Go easy on yourself, and realize you just brought a new life into the world! If you are self-conscious, keep a shirt on or dim the lights, but realize you are probably being too hard on yourself.
12. Keep a sense of humor—Breast milk may squirt across the room, you may pass gas, and your partner may be too afraid to hurt you to do much of anything. Laughing will help you realize the humor in these situations and make you fully realize that you are parents now!
13. Understand it will get better—This might be the most important tip. Just like you had no idea what you were doing with your baby when he or she first arrived, the same can be said for postpartum sex. Keeping open lines of communication mixed in with some humor and spontaneity can really help you keep things in perspective.
Reviewed by Dr. Eva Benmeleh, September 2020
- Waiting until your doctor approves—or just waiting until you are ready!—can help you mentally and physically when the time is right.
- Set low expectations, and don’t expect everything to be perfect the first time back at it.
- Keep communication open with your partner, and understand it will get better.