Sex after birth - closeness and togetherness
There are lots of reasons why sex might feel strange after giving birth. You might not have completely healed, your breasts might be leaking, you're exhausted and your baby might wake up at any time. But you're also longing for adult closeness. You need to find a shared balance and away to be close that feels good, while still taking into account your new situation.
5 min read
Reviewed by Jenny Jansson
Sex is different for most people after birth and it can take some time before you are ready to have sex 'as usual. You can give and receive pleasure in different ways. Simple intimate touching can increase your sense of well-being and adult closeness as well as charge your batteries.
When you and your partner touch and experience pleasure together, the body produces the hormone oxytocin. What's special about time with your baby is that the woman often gets their dose of oxytocin through time with the baby. Breastfeeding and being close to the baby release oxytocin, which can lead to decreased sex drive. This phenomenon can create a bit of an imbalance in the relationship as your partner who is not breastfeeding has their usual sex drive, without oxytocin.
If you both understand how important closeness and touch are to your relationship, you can realise the importance of lying close, caressing each other and talking, if sex isn't working properly yet. Just after childbirth, touch can be as pleasurable as full intercourse.
Sex after birth
Physically, you don't have to wait six weeks after giving birth - this is an old recommendation. The most important thing is that any bleeding has stopped. If you're still bleeding, that means there's a wound in the womb and, with that, a risk of infection. If you had a complicated birth, it's a good idea to wait until the check-up with your midwife to make sure that everything looks normal.
Pain during sex
If it hurts to have sex, you should seek help, because if you feel pain, this can affect your sex drive. Problems with pain during sex not only affect women who've had a vaginal birth - but a caesarean can also cause problems such as dry mucous membranes, due to hormones. If medicine doesn't work, try lubricant - which has helped many new parents.
Even though everything is normal physically, there are more factors that you both need to know about. As a woman, you're biologically designed to be pregnant for nine months and then biologically conditioned to bond with your baby. It's only natural for it to take a few months after the birth before you're able to have sex - the situation is different from before. It makes communication easier and creates better conditions in the long run if you both understand how biology works, and that it's not as simple as the woman not wanting to have sex.
Don't forget contraception
An important thing to bear in mind before you start having sex again is that it's easy to get pregnant. Nature wants as many children as possible, as quickly as possible. If you don't want to get pregnant again too soon, it's important to have solved the contraceptive issue before you have intercourse for the first time after birth. It also becomes more difficult to enjoy sex if you're worried about getting pregnant, and then it can be difficult to find your way back to desire and closeness. Depending on how you reacted to different contraceptives in the past, your midwife can help you choose the right one for you.
The first time
When you have sex for the first time after giving birth, it might feel strange in the area that tore. It might remind you of your 'very, first time, which might not have been so comfortable. It might not be the best sex of your life, but it doesn't have to be awful. When the time is right for sex, it can be important in a different emotional way - you might feel like you're finding each other again. With the right attitude, it can be romantic, even if the sex itself is a bit tentative. With a feeling of closeness and understanding, you'll be able to practise, and your sex life can even be better compared to before you had children. You're entering a new phase.
Practise pelvic floor exercises.
Remember that a woman who has given birth vaginally often experiences that their vagina has widened, which is not the same as the vagina becoming loose. It just means that positions that might have been a bit painful in the past might now feel comfortable. Practise pelvic floor exercises during sex.
Sex as communication
Life right now revolves almost entirely around your baby. That's why it's important to try to keep the relationship alive through closeness and affection. Slowly finding your way back to your sex life is a way to re-establish yourself as an individual and as a couple, creating the best conditions for your relationship in the long term. Desire, closeness and affection are built through continuous confirmation, touch and communication. Take things easy and go at your own pace. If you feel insecure, you can turn to your midwife for advice.
Reviewed by Jenny Jansson
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