Timing is everything: listen to your body
There are a few things to keep in mind when deciding whether you’re ready to resume having sex after C-section delivery. The first factor is your C-section scar, the second is vaginal bleeding, and the third is your emotional state. In addition to those things, you should also consider your overall health including your strength level, as well as your birth control method.
Many women recovering from C-section delivery may not entertain the thought of resuming sexual activity for many weeks or months following birth. However, some women may feel ready to have sex 3 weeks after birth. Be careful, though: there is a common misconception that women who have given birth via C-section can have sex soon after delivery because they have not had as much trauma to the vagina. However, it is not recommended to have sex until at least 6 weeks postpartum.
Hold off from having intercourse at least until you have been to your 6-week postpartum checkup. Rush into things too quickly, and you may find that something seemingly minor like having sex 4 weeks after C-section can actually lead to complications, such as infection.
Six weeks is the average timeline for which you can expect your uterus to be returned to the normal size, your cervix to have closed, and your c-section incision to have healed. Once you get the all-clear from your obstetrician, you’re in the safe zone.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re ready to resume having intercourse after birth, though. Consider your mental health as well. It is common for women to experience baby blues or postpartum depression after birth, which can cause low libido.
Share these things with your partner, and never force yourself to do something you don’t feel ready to do. Remember that you’ve been through a lot — you carried a baby for nine months, had major surgery, and you’re now dealing with sleep deprivation and feeding that baby every 2-4 hours around the clock. Cut yourself some slack and just wait it out — it’s normal to have a low sex drive after giving birth.
Remember: healing is a process
In an ideal world, sparkles, rainbows, and butterflies appear when you finally have sex after being apart for so long. It feels wonderful to be back together again!
The reality for most people is quite different. The first time having sex after birth is, well, a first time. It will most likely be clumsy, uncomfortable, painful, and even a bit confusing. You may feel self-conscious and unsure of this new, uncharted territory. That’s normal.
The healing process is not linear. In other words, you may feel great one day, and totally down the next. Many women find that bleeding stops for a few days only to pick back up again. Sometimes, sex for the first time after birth causes bleeding.
The recovery process for women who have had C-section deliveries is generally longer than that of women who have had vaginal delivery. Talk to your partner about any concerns you may have, and hold off until you feel ready.
If you are experiencing pain in the vagina or around the C-section scar, be sure to visit your doctor to rule out infection or other complications.
Best sex positions for intercourse after cesarean delivery
It may surprise you just how long it takes for your C-section scar to fully heal. Many women experience tingling and numbness in the area for months following delivery. If you’re ready to start having sex again, but not so ready to aggravate that tender area, there are a few sex positions that you may prefer.
Positions in which the woman is on top are ideal because they give you full control. You can decide on the depth of penetration and the level of contact with your abdomen. It also allows you to move in ways that are most comfortable for you. In addition, positions that involve side or rear entry will keep pressure off of that area. Spooning may be your best bet at the very beginning.
Sex positions to avoid after C-section delivery
After a C-section delivery, it can be tricky to find a position that works well for you. Feel free to experiment, and the moment you feel any form of discomfort, stop.
Positions that cause you to strain or put pressure on your C-section scar should be avoided. While it’s true that pain during sex after pregnancy is common, any position that exacerbates that pain is quite unnecessary.
For the first few months, you may find that positions in which your partner is on top, such as missionary, put too much pressure on the area around your scar. Doggy style should also be avoided until your scar is fully healed, because it causes your stomach to hang, putting pressure on your core and pelvic area. In addition, any position that involves you lying on your stomach is a no-no.
The importance of vaginal lubrication after birth
Vaginal dryness is incredibly common after birth, especially for women who are breastfeeding. Before and during pregnancy, you may not have come across this issue at all, and it so it may not occur to you to use lubricant during sex.
After giving birth, your hormones take a dive. Estrogen — a female sex hormone that plays a major role in vaginal lubrication — also drops, and is especially low in nursing women.
Sex right after giving birth may already be uncomfortable. Add vaginal dryness to the mix, and it’s downright painful. Use a low-dose vaginal estrogen, water-based lubricants, vaginal moisturizers to prevent unnecessary irritation and pain.
Don’t forget about birth control
When making a decision about how long to wait to have sex after giving birth, it can be easy to become so focused on the issues discussed above that you completely forget about birth control.
If you don’t want any surprises, now is the perfect time to start thinking about birth control before having sex after birth.
Many women mistakenly think that nursing offers protection from getting pregnant. The duration of ovulatory suppression during nursing is highly variable. In fact, 50% of lactating mothers will begin to ovulate between 6 and 12 months after delivery, even while breastfeeding. Importantly, return of ovulation occurs before the return of menstruation. As a result, 15% to 55% of mothers using lactation for contraception subsequently become pregnant.
For this reason, breastfeeding women should also take birth control seriously.
Make sure to talk to your doctor about birth control options at your 6-week postpartum checkup. If you’re breastfeeding and you want to use hormonal contraception, your doctor will most likely prescribe a progesterone-only form of birth control, such as the mini-pill. Combination pills do not threaten your baby’s health, but they can significantly compromise your milk supply.
If you’re not planning on trying to conceive for at least a year after giving birth, it may be worth looking into an IUD. Both the copper and the hormonal IUDs are considered safe for breastfeeding moms.
Other options include implants; injections; or barrier methods such as male/female condoms, or a diaphragm, cervical caps.
Just remember that your body has been through a lot of changes. What worked for you in the past may not work for you now, and that’s okay. Talk to your doctor to find the right birth control for you so that you can feel totally relaxed and secure when resuming intercourse after birth.
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Tips for amazing postpartum sex
It’s perfectly normal — expected, even — to feel nervous about having sex for the first time after giving birth. These tips can help take the pressure off so that you can start enjoying yourself in bed again.
- Set expectations low. You will most likely not be having mind-blowing, hair-pulling, sheet-clutching sex a few weeks or even a few months after delivery. It takes time for your body and mind to adjust to all of the changes in and around you. Expect that sex may not be great the first few times, but know that it will happen eventually.
- Go easy on yourself. You may not be as eager as you once were to have sex with your partner, and there’s actually a scientific explanation for that. Between sleep deprivation and the sudden drop in hormone levels, your libido is bound to take a hit. Don’t beat yourself up for not wanting sex as much as you used to — or not at all. Explain to your partner that it’s not personal.
- Go slow. After delivery — vaginal or C-section — things feel different down there. This new body of yours needs patience and understanding to get to the point of pleasure. Things you enjoyed before delivery may not be too comfortable now. Experiment with different positions, and don’t rush penetration if you don’t feel ready.
- Talk about it. Unfortunately, your partner is not a mind-reader. Whatever it is you’re feeling — self-conscious, uncomfortable, or aroused — it’s important to share it openly. This is your best chance at postpartum sex success.
- Use lube. Even if you think you don’t need it, get yourself some water-based lubricant and use it liberally. No point in risking having painful sex when you’re trying to get back into the swing of things.
- Stop if it doesn’t feel good. It may seem like a no-brainer, but in the moment it can be really difficult to speak up and stop your partner from going further. Put aside all feelings of guilt or shame that may be surfacing and take this as your official permission slip to not have sex when you don’t want to. It’s important to remember that there are other ways to enjoy each other without penetration.
- Wait for the green light from your doctor. While some mystery may add to the fun, guessing is never a good thing when it comes to medical issues. Wait until you are completely in the safe zone and have gotten the go-ahead from your doctor to avoid risking injury or infection.
It’s important to wait at least six weeks after C-section delivery before having intercourse. But, that does not mean that you can’t wait longer than that. Listen closely to your body and take your emotional state into consideration when approaching a sensitive topic like sex after C-section.
If you are experiencing pain in or around your vagina or C-section scar, let your partner and your doctor know. Your partner will be able to offer proper support and understanding once they are filled in on your physical and emotional state. If you have any concerns regarding pain or discomfort, visit your doctor to rule out infection and ensure that you’re on a straight path to recovery.