Having sex after giving birth: what should and shouldn’t you do?

Having sex after giving birth: what should and shouldn't you do?

Pregnancy and childbirth inevitably change your body, which means that having sex after you’ve given birth feels different as well. The good news is that once you’ve completely recovered, your need for intimacy and your ability to enjoy sex and orgasms will return. Sometimes even stronger than before. How long after giving birth can you have sex again? What should you keep in mind? What about using contraceptives? And what if you’re not ready for it yet? How do you talk about it with your partner? Read our tips for a having a great sex life after giving birth.

Recommendation: wait six weeks

Most women are not ready to have sex again after giving birth for at least a couple of weeks. You have to get used to a new life with a baby and you won’t get much sleep in the first couple of months. Your body, and especially your vagina and uterus, need time to heal. Your breasts are large, but also very sensitive. Breast engorgement can make even light touches very painful.

Gynaecologists advise against having sex in the first six weeks after giving birth. This way your body has proper time to heal, which will reduce the chance of infections. The wound left by the placenta needs time to heal, as do the stitches in your body.

Sex after childbirth is different

Having sex for the first time after giving birth can be very daunting. How will you react? Will your body still feel the same? Will you be able to enjoy stimulation and penetration like you did before? In the first three months after giving birth, sex feels different than before for most women. This is because of the hormones, a change in priorities, and maybe even tension in the body. Your body of course also physically changed. Talk about your fears with your partner beforehand and also talk about your expectations of having sex again. Together you will find a new way of experiencing pleasure together.

What if you don’t feel sexy?

After giving birth, most women have less sexual desires for various reasons. Your body looks different, you don’t get much sleep because of the baby, and your priorities have shifted. This doesn’t mean that your sexuality is permanently gone, so don’t worry about it. When you’re fully recovered, all those feelings will come back. You will experience the desire to have sex and be intimate with your partner again, and the ability to enjoy your orgasm will also return. Because of your very sensitive body, orgasms can even feel more intense than before.

Episiotomy? Put off penetration for a while

Did the childbirth involve a perineal tear or episiotomy? Then you might need more time to recover. If you still experience blood loss after six weeks, it’s advisable to postpone having sex a little longer in order to prevent infections. If the wound hasn’t fully healed yet, there is an increased chance of infections caused by friction, sperm, or lubricant. Are you in the mood for sexual pleasure? Try masturbating first and get used to the feeling again. Rinse your vagina with warm water afterwards. This will decrease the chance of an infection.


You might think that a C-section doesn’t affect your vagina, but this is not entirely true. Even when you had a C-section, giving birth always has an effect on the sensitivity of your vagina. Especially when you tried to give birth naturally at first. Your hormone levels are the same as during a vaginal birth and can therefore cause the same problems. Which means that dryness, thin skin, and decreased elasticity can also occur after a C-section. Don’t forget that a C-section is a serious abdominal surgery. If you wait until you’re fully recovered before you start having sex again, you will enjoy it so much more.

Large, sensitive, and leaking breasts

Did you think your breasts were large when you were pregnant? Just wait until a couple of days after giving birth! Your breasts will definitely be even larger. As long as you breastfeed your baby, they will stay that way. Some women might enjoy having larger breasts for a while, but for other women, it means that their breasts are so sensitive that every touch is very painful.

It’s possible that your breasts could start leaking during sex when you’re aroused. If you don’t want this, you can use a breast pump or feed your baby beforehand. If your breasts leak anyway, that’s okay. This is not nothing to be ashamed of. Some partners even think it’s very sexy. Besides, it’s completely natural and it’s what makes breastfeeding possible.

The chance of getting pregnant after childbirth

Getting pregnant within four weeks after giving birth is unlikely, but it’s still possible. It’s a myth that breastfeeding and raging hormones prevent pregnancy. Nature does whatever it wants, so take precautions if you don’t want to get pregnant again.

Your midwife or obstetrician will talk to you about contraceptives, usually shortly after giving birth.Even though you probably don’t even want to think about having sex for a while, it’s important to have this conversation. Think carefully about what you want to use: condoms, the pill, or an IUD? If you have questions, you can always aks your PE for advice. In short, these are the most common contraceptives options:

  • Condoms: always use them when you have sex for the first time after giving birth.
  • Contraceptive pill: you can start taking the pill after three weeks (if you don’t breastfeed) or after six weeks (if you breastfeed). If you start on the first day of your menstruation cycle, it will immediately protect you from unwanted pregnancy.
  • Contraceptive patch/vaginal ring:  if you’re not breastfeeding, you can start using a contraceptive patch or a vaginal ring after three weeks after giving birth. If you are breastfeeding, you usually have to wait at least six weeks after giving birth.
  • IUD: an IUD can be placed within 48 hours of the birth or after four weeks after giving birth.
  • Sterilisation: this is only an option if your absolutely sure you don’t want any more children. In some cases, it’s possible to be sterilised immediately after giving birth or even during a C-section.

Also read: Everything you need to know about female sterilisation

Problems during sex? This is how to solve them

A sensitive vaginal wall, pain, bleeding, vaginal dryness, fatigue, or a stretched vagina are all common consequences of giving birth that can significantly decrease your sex drive. If you experience discomfort, try to stay positive and try to find solutions. Use plenty of lubricant if you suffer from vaginal dryness. If your vagina is sensitive, take your time and don’t rush anything. Gently start stimulating your vagina and clitoris, use your partner’s fingers, and slowly build it up. If you enjoy using sex toys, go for a small toy at first. Don’t put any pressure on yourself and do what feels right. Don’t ever feel guilty about this. After all, you just created a new human being.

Not ready for sex yet? Talk about it

If you’re not ready to have sex, even after a couple of months, your partner should respect that. Talk about it with your partner and explain why, so they can understand your decision. Perhaps they can help you with whatever blocks your sex drive. Maybe a different form of intimacy works for you? You could massage each other for example, cuddle or caress each other while sitting on the sofa, or kiss while watching a porn video. Focus on what you do want and what feels good, keep it positive, and slowly build up your intimacy together.

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