You’ve been through pregnancy, have a gorgeous baby and are now considering – gulp – having sex again. So, how do you get started?
Well, it depends on how your birth went and how you’re feeling. The guideline often given is six weeks, around the time of your post-birth check-up, which is a good chance for your GP to check how you’re getting on emotionally and how your body’s recovering.
Some women want to have sex earlier, and some later.
If you’ve had a difficult birth, you may want to wait a little longer, but there’s no right answer. Just keep an eye on how you’re doing physically – whether you’ve stopped bleeding, for example – and start when you feel ready.
Let’s talk about sex
You and your partner have been through a life-changing experience, so take this opportunity to talk about what you’re ready for and when.
‘He may be worried about hurting you, while you may want to reassure him you love him but you’re not ready for sex yet,’ says relationship and sex expert Petra Boyton. ‘It’s so important to communicate so you can work through everything together.’
Kissing, masturbation, oral… Sex is much more than just intercourse. So, instead of making full sex and a climax your big goal, work out what you’re comfortable with in the build up to that. ‘This takes some of the pressure off,’ says Petra.
It’s totally normal to be anxious, so take it easy and stop if you’re in pain.
‘Good positions to start with might be lying side by side facing each other, which gives a slower pace and shallower penetration,’ says Petra. ‘Going on top gives you more control, and you can wear a bra if it helps you feel less body-conscious or if you’re worried about milk leaking.’
If you’ve had a Caesarean
This is a case of taking your time too, and also being careful with positions – you may not be as uncomfortable down there, but you’ve still been through a big operation.
‘Doggy style isn’t a good idea until you’ve healed completely because it can pull on your scar,’ says Petra. ‘You may notice small twinges, so move around or try again later.’
If having sex really hurts, check with your GP. A little vaginal discomfort is normal, so some lubrication will help. If there’s more pain or if it lasts, there could be a problem with sutures or how you’re healing, so best to get it checked out.
Bleeding or pain in your lower tummy needs attention, too.
And use contraception. It’s a common myth you won’t need it if you’re breastfeeding but, while this does reduce the likelihood of pregnancy, you can’t rely on it.