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Resuming Sexual Intimacy

Sexual intercourse may be resumed after your vaginal bleeding has stopped and stitches are healed. Usually, you will have recovered within four to six weeks following delivery. You and your partner should decide together, with the advice of your health care provider, when to resume sexual intimacy.

Before resuming intimacy, couples should remember that there are other ways to show affection, such as cuddling or kissing. Both partners need to be patient and understanding of one another's needs and reactions.

Partners should understand that, while a woman's physical ability for sexual intimacy may have returned, other factors, such as lack of sleep, may affect her emotional interest. Many women feel that they are so tired by the demands of being a new mother, that they have little time for their partners. Also, motherhood - especially in breastfeeding moms - can be so physically demanding, that sex seems like another physical demand on her body, not a time of emotional connection with her partner. Likewise, fear of pregnancy may also be an inhibiting factor.

Physically, you or your partner may notice a change in the size and shape of your vagina after the birth. It typically returns to near its normal size six to eight weeks following delivery. Also be aware that for the first few times, sex following birth may be painful. Use a lubricant, and try positions that allow the woman to be in control of penetration.

Breastfeeding moms may feel that their breasts are "off limits" as long as they are nursing. Also, be aware that many women experience "let down" during sex, and may leak breast milk. There is no way to avoid this - just keep a good sense of humor and be aware it may happen.

Remember that you can become pregnant again even before you have your first period and that breastfeeding is not a form of birth control. Contact your health care provider to find the best form of birth control for you.
Most of all - remember that continuing a sexual relationship after a new baby is usually a gradual process. Just be patient with yourself and your partner, and desire will eventually return.