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The Kama Sutra for New Moms

March 28, 2024
Ahma & Co Team
Image Credit: Medium Photoclub
Image Credit: Medium Photoclub

Sex. It may be the furthest thing from your mind since having a baby. Or maybe after six weeks of being off limits, you are ready to experience that intimacy again. Either way, being physically intimate after having a baby can bring up a lot of questions and feelings, and we’re here to guide you so that you can feel confident as you navigate and rediscover your sexuality during this period.

When you begin this conversation, it’s important to recognize the physical demand your body undertook during labor and delivery. In fact, both vaginal and Cesarean births can affect sex. Dr. Anna Targonskaya, an OB/GYN and medical advisor for Flo Health, addresses a big misconception that you can have sex immediately after a C-section. Targonskaya recommends holding off for six weeks because, while there may not have been a direct impact on your vagina, having sex too early may lead to infection, cause bleeding, and may just be too uncomfortable. The recovery process for people who have had C-section deliveries generally takes longer than those who have had vaginal deliveries. So it is important to let the body heal. 

Another consideration is whether or not you are breastfeeding. The National Childbirth Trust notes that after birth and during breastfeeding, the hormones estrogen and progesterone drop. With lower estrogen, your vagina may feel dryer than usual, and lower progesterone likely means a lower libido or sex drive. And because the love hormone, or oxytocin, is released during breastfeeding and an orgasm, you may not feel the same need for sex. (read more about this here) is also released during sex. Since you are constantly breastfeeding your baby, the need for sex is likely lower than you’d expect due to your consistent release of this hormone while breastfeeding. 

But let’s say, even with these factors, you are feeling ready to jump in bed and it has been at least six weeks since the baby’s arrival. The best advice is to start slow and with low expectations. Dr. Targonskaya advises, “You might not have mind-blowing sex a few weeks or even a few months after delivery. It takes time to physically and mentally adjust to all of the changes that take place post-delivery. Sex may not be great the first few times, but it can improve over time.” Additionally, consider positions, like being on top, that are comfortable and give you full control. Especially if you’ve had a C-section, you’ll want to avoid positions that put pressure or unnecessary pain on your scar. 

And finally, don’t forget about birth control! It is a common misconception that you can’t get pregnant if you’re breastfeeding. However, 50% of breastfeeding parents will start to ovulate six to 12 months after delivery. And you will start to ovulate before you start your period again, which is partially why the statistic is so high for people who use nursing as their only form of contraception (15-55%). Before you engage in sexual activity, discuss with your partner and your doctor which type of birth control will be best for you as you are recovering from birth.

It’s important to note that intimacy doesn’t just come in the form of sex or even physical touch, for that matter. Don’t feel pressured to rush back into sex just to satisfy your partner’s desires. There are other ways to keep the passion alive in a relationship without the need to engage in an activity you’re not quite ready for. Be patient, be mindful, and be comfortable with yourself and with your partner. As suggested by the National Childbirth Trust, the following 10 questions can be a guide to help you determine if you’re ready to have sex:

1. Do I feel emotionally ready for sex? Whether you decide to wait six weeks or three months or an entire year, the timing is very much your choice. Being tired along with the responsibility of caring for a new baby is a very common reason why there may be less interest in sex.

2. Am I worried that my partner wants to have sex? If you aren’t ready but your partner is, talk to them and reassure them that you’re not pushing them away and that this is just a temporary situation while you navigate the demands of a baby. Remind them that your love remains, but it may take some time before you become intimate again.

3. Am I worried about my body? Your body grew a baby for 40ish weeks and then you gave birth, so sex might feel a little different. You may experience dryness which could lead to pain. Or you’re breastfeeding, so parts of your body that once felt sexy might feel more utilitarian now. But do not fret, this is common. Easing into sex, using a lubricant, and even exploring yourself first may help you navigate this new experience. ‍

4. Am I rushing into post-baby sex because I am worried I’ll lose closeness with my partner? Intimacy can be explored in other ways besides sex. Closeness with your partner can be shared through other experiences such as reading a book to one another, cuddling while watching a movie on the couch, or even giving each other massages. It could be fun to explore creative ways to be intimate without sex.

5. How will the type of birth I had affect sex? Pain or irritation can occur whether you’ve had a vaginal birth or a Cesarean birth. Wait until your body has time to heal and you feel ready.

6.Will my tear or cut (episiotomy) affect sex? Recover, recover, recover. Depending on the degree of tear, your healing could take up to a month. E after enough time has passed, take things slow and easy.

7. Will how I am feeding my baby affect sex? Due to the release of oxytocin and the drop in estrogen and progesterone, breastfeeding may cause a decrease in libido and vaginal dryness. Be aware of this, and let your partner know if you need to stop or incorporate lube.

8. Have I thought about contraception? You can still get pregnant after having a baby. Don’t disregard this step unless you’re ready to give birth again!

9. Am I putting it off as I am worried about my baby being in the room? This is a common worry. But the noises you and your partner make during sex won’t upset your little one. Timing sex after a feeding so the baby is content and making sure they’re in their own crib or bassinet might be a good idea.

10. Am I ready to be honest? There are many reasons why sex may feel different post-birth. The most important thing is to speak up if it does. Don’t leave your partner out of the loop, and don’t let yourself experience pain or discomfort for the sake of sex. Instead, be honest.

Intimacy after birth can be a daunting and emotional thing. But sexual health is a part of your overall health. So, prepare yourself for this time with your partner. And if you feel ready, then enjoy this time of exploration and new discoveries!

Ahma & Co Team

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