Let’s face it—whether you deliver vaginally or by C-section, your body will be different after you give birth. For many women (and men), one of the most pressing questions is how sex will be different after a little one arrives.
1. You may not want to have sex for a long time. For some women, the drop in hormones that happens after delivery leaves them with a decreased (or absent) libido. Additionally, a new life that is totally dependent on you for survival and the subsequent stress and fatigue means sex might be the last thing on a new mom’s mind. This is normal! Even some men experience this, as they, too, are tired and stressed. Having honest conversations with your partner about expectations can help you get through this without any resentment developing.
2. You may want to have more sex. Some women actually notice an increase in their libido! For new moms, the blissed-out sensation of finally having a perfect family, seeing your partner morph into Super Parent, and feeling more beautiful and feminine can be quite the aphrodisiac.
3. You and your partner may have a mismatched libido. New moms may want more sex, and your partner may be afraid to hurt you or—for right now—primarily see you as the mother of a new baby. Or you may be exhausted while your significant other is begging for sex since your doctor said everything was a go after your six-week postpartum visit. Either way, be honest and open, and realize these changes are all normal and temporary. Avoid the blame game.
4. You might pee, pass gas, or poop. Incontinence, or the accidental leakage of gas, urine, or stool, can happen after having a baby. This is because pregnancy and childbirth (especially vaginally, though it can still happen even if you’ve had a C-section) causes the weakening and stretching of your pelvic floor muscles. Nerves to these muscles may also be damaged. In women who’ve had vaginal tears or episiotomies, the sphincter muscles to the anus can be torn. All of this can add up to accidental leakage during increased activity, such as laughing, sneezing, and sex. A little bit of humor, time, and Kegel exercises can help. However, if it is particularly bothersome or frequent, be sure to speak with your doctor.
5. You might be really afraid. Many women report that the first time they have sex after giving birth is very nerve-racking, since they aren’t quite sure what to expect. Fear of pain is very common. It is important to set low expectations for the first post-baby tryst, and speak up and stop if something hurts. Only certain positions may be feasible at first, so trial and error may be needed. In addition, if sex hurts too much at first, think of other ways to pleasure each other instead of intercourse.
6. Your breasts may take over. Meaning this: you may not want them touched if they are very sensitive, you may need to keep a bra on to help support them, you may leak when you orgasm, or you may feel like they are off-limits because they function to feed your baby right now. Whatever it is, let your partner know so they can understand and accommodate.
7. You might want to keep the lights off. Since the baby weight doesn’t melt right off (nor should it), it is common for women to be embarrassed of their postpartum bodies. Many new moms worry that their stomach still jiggles or their C-section scar is very noticeable. Please be reassured that this is normal, and some men may even like your new curves! It’s OK if you want to keep the lights off or a shirt on, but don’t feel down on yourself for having just nourished and birthed a child.
8. You may need lube. Lots of lube. Vaginal dryness is common in women who breastfeed, and this is because of the low estrogen levels in a nursing mother’s body. This can make sex painful. Be sure to allow time for adequate foreplay, and use a lubricant if you need it.
9. You might have to be more creative. With a newborn ruling the roost, sex may need to happen at odd hours (i.e., whenever nap time pops up) and places (if you are room- or bed-sharing). It may also need to end if your little one starts to cry or wake up before you are ready. Use this as an opportunity to be playful and stay imaginative.
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Reviewed by Dr. Eva Benmeleh, September 2020
- It is normal to have a different libido after your baby arrives.
- Incontinence may happen during sex.
- Many women are afraid of pain the first time they have sex after having a baby.
- The key is to be honest and open with your partner and to remain understanding.