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Sex after giving birth: tips to get your sex life back on track

by Charlotte Hoddge ,
Sex after giving birth: tips to get your sex life back on track© Shutterstock

Sex after having a baby

A few weeks after the birth of your baby you're back at home, you're getting into the swing of things with your new baby but getting back into your sex life is unsurprisingly proving a bit of an issue.

Sex after giving birth can be a slightly tricky topic. You're tired, you're constantly busy with your baby and still haven't got your pre-pregnancy body back, so it's not surprising that you don't really feel like having sex with your partner.

First thing is first - don't feel guilty about it!

Relighting the fire takes time; your body has been through alot in the past few months and it's not going to get easier with all the restless nights, so it's important to communicate this with your partner. It's a life changing period for both of you but reclaiming your sex life is more than achieveable - you just need patience.

Getting back into the swing of things in the bedroom varies from person to person, you need to overcome, experience and accept the changes you've been through and if you're having difficulties you need to realise that you won't be the only couple who have gone through it.

With the help of your partner, a bit of understanding and these tips from our experts you'll rediscover the pleasures of sex after giving birth!

Overcome the physical pain

First things first, you do not want to rush into having sex after giving birth. Thinking that your vagina will be ready for sex after having the trauma of delivering a baby is obviously not realistic.

It's usually recommended to delay having full intercourse until your post-natal check up by your Doctor or Midwife about 6 weeks after giving birth.

However it differs for every couple, and some women feel totally fine before these 6 weeks while some women can take up to 6 months before they feel physically ready to make love.

Obviously it differs according to what experience you had during birth, so here are the guidelines for each situation.

If you've had an episiotomy, it's only normal to worry about sex being painful. It usually takes about a month for sex to become totally painless after an episiotomy.

If you've had a Caesarean, it will be slightly quicker but still can take about six weeks for the pain to completely disappear.

During the first few weeks, you might also suffer from dyspareunia, a lack of vaginal lubrication. Our expert Professor Frydman recommends using lubricant or antibiotics to reduce discomfort if this is the case.

Overcome your fears

Aside from short-term physical pain, a number of fears may stick in your mind and put you off sex. Fear that stitches will tear, fear of pain, fear that you'll no longer be attractive to your partner, and so on and so forth.

These worries are totally normal!

Talking to your partner about your anxieties will help to reduce them. Together, take it step by step andcommunicate!

Make time for caressing and other forms of pleasure rather than penetration until you feel confident and ready for full sex.

If your partner wants to have sex but you don't feel ready, tell him that you're sensitive about it and explain why you don't feel able to respond to his desires right now. It's very important for your relationship that he doesn't feel rejected but at the same time he needs to understand what you're going through and support you.

It's more important than ever for you and your partner to be there for each other and your baby so be as open and honest as you can.

Another vital step which you must take is accepting your post-birth body - don't ever forget how amazing your body is for being able to create life! Sure it might look a bit different now but give credit where it's due - your body deserves it - so don't be too hard on it.

Give yourself time

It's important to stress that a major drop in libido happens to many mums after they have given birth and it's totally understandable.

The sharp drop in hormone levels, the responsibility of looking after your baby, lack of sleep, the after-effects of giving birth, episiotomies, caesareans and blood loss all have a major effect on a woman's body and mind, and there's nothing you can do about it except for give yourself time to deal with it.

So be patient with yourself. Try not to give yourself a hard time if you're put off by the thought of sex or too tired, your mojo will come back.

There are plenty of other ways for you and your partner to be intimate and for the moment the most important thing is communicating about how you feel. It will take a weight off your shoulders!

Find a new balance

No-one can ever prepare you for the effect that your new born baby will have on your life.

The need to adapt your rhythm to your baby's and this means getting some help from those around you.

You'll need some time to find your personal balance and to allow yourself some rest.

So if you're breastfeeding, ask a friend or family member to look after your baby so you can sleep between feeds.

If you're bottle-feeding, make up bottles so someone else can feed your baby.

As well as this make sure you share the work with your partner or whoever is helping you out at night, so that you can catch up on some sleep.

Having sleepless nights can make you feel all kinds of crazy and can put you on edge all day - so if you're having negative thoughts or finding things stressful, things probably aren't helped by lack of sleep.

The chances are that if you're exhausted, sex will be the last thing on your mind. But once you're able to get a few decent hours of kip regularly you'll find you're a changed woman - one who even thinks about sex and everything!

The importance of pelvic floor exercises

The majority of new mums don't recognise their bodies after they've given birth and this can be a difficult thing to come to terms with.

Remind yourself that this is perfectly normal: pregnancy and childbirth involve massive changes for your body to go through, but remember your body is designed for this purpose - and it can go amazing things.

First of all, allow yourself plenty of time to get your body back, especially if you're breastfeeding. Think 9 months of pregnancy and 9 months to get your body back to how it was before.

Don't neglect pelvic floor exercises. They're essential as they reduce the risks of incontinence and prolapse (slipping down of the vagina).

They're also beneficial to your sex life as they help tighten your vagina (after giving birth, enlarged inner walls, a loose vulva or a half-open vagina are all common).

Read more about these exercises in our guide to pelvic floor muscles.

Try not to be negative about your new shape. Your fuller boobs are there to provide sustenance to your infant and your tummy was home to your tot just a few weeks ago. Don't pressure yourself to look like Heidi Klum or Victoria Beckham post baby - and set yourself realistic goals on a regular basis to try and fit some exercise into your routine.

And don't deprave yourself either - especially if you're breast feeding - you need to make sure you're strong and healthy to nourish your child - and that means eating a healthy, balanced diet.

Love your body as it is

The next step is to gradually get back into excercise. This will help shed those excess pounds, tone your abs, and get your energy back - and no doubt your confidence in the process.

If, however, you're breastfeeding, forget dieting. Breastfeeding requires extra calories and nutrients for your baby''s nourishment as well as giving you the energy that you need!

In nine months to a year, you should have returned to your pre-pregnancy weight and gained body and muscle tone.

But some of the effects of pregnancy won't completely disappear: stretch marks for some, sagging beats for others, and a changed body shape (larger hips and a flatter or rounder bottom) are some of the changes you may have to accept.

Learn to love your body as it is. If you embrace your body as it is and you feel beautiful, it will give off extremely sexy signals to your partner and you will feel amazing!

Making room for Dad

The bond between you and you baby is going to be like none you've ever experienced before and sometimes this can leave little room for anything or anyone else.

Again, this is very normal. You're experiencing what's known as the mother-baby bond with your little one.

Leaving the womb isn't enough to separate two bodies which were united for nine months. Your baby still sees you as one unit, and will only become aware of the reality when he or she is about 8 months old.

Force yourself slowy but surely out of this phase, in order to give your child the opportunity to become independent, you also need time to let your partner in and not feel excluded.

What if he wants sex before I do?

This can be the most worrying part of a physical relationship after giving birth for new mums.

Obviously there can be tension between couples with this but the most important thing is not to ignore the issue. Talking to your partner about the anxieties that you are having is the only way to go around it.

Hopefully with a lot of love and understanding the pair of you will be able to work together to a healthy sexual relationship.

Its important to carve out some time for yourselves as a couple (as difficult as this may be).

Plus sex doesn't need to be fully penetrative at first, try out other ways of getting each other off in the meantime.

Getting back in the saddle

Finally you're ready to get passionate with your partner again - but if this is the first time you've felt aroused, it can be a bit daunting.

If you're still a little sensitive, go for positions that allow you to be in control.

A great position for this is for you to go on top of your partner so that you can control the depth and penetration during sex.

Once you start of here you can assess what feels comfortable and hopefully in no time you and your partner will be back to enjoying that red hot passion that made your baby in the first place!

Charlotte Hoddge
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