Sex is the one topic that isn’t about the baby, but it’s something that many new parents spend too much time worrying about.
“How soon after having a baby can we have sex again?”, “I don’t know if I’ll ever feel ready for sex” or “I’m exhausted and can only think about my baby right now; not my partner and sex!” These are topics that new parents always ask me about and there are a few things that I think are really important for new parents to know.
Do you have to wait for six weeks to have sex after having a baby?
Just because you’ve heard about waiting six weeks to have sex after having a baby doesn’t mean it’s the rule that you have to follow hard and fast! We place so much pressure on ourselves as new parents and putting pressure on ourselves to have sex again within a certain timeframe after giving birth is more likely to have a negative effect on our wellbeing.
Instead of thinking you have to have sex following your six-week check-up – which is not happening in order to assess sexual readiness, but happening to check in on your physical and mental wellbeing – use that appointment as a space to ensure you’re coping as best you can.
Of course you need to give your body and mind time to heal following delivery (at least six weeks), but in reality this might take longer. You would likely still be experiencing intense fatigue, lowered sexual desire and vaginal dryness (hormones and breastfeeding are just two culprits), discomfort and anxiety, even if your doctor has given you the all clear.
Intimacy isn’t just about intercourse
You don’t have to have sexual intercourse to be intimate with your partner. There are many ways to experience and give sexual pleasure and connection that don’t involve penetration, and you and your partner should really be focusing your energy on intimacy outside of the bedroom, such as through conversations about things other than the baby’s routine, to spark connection and closeness.
Communication is the cornerstone for healthy and happy relationships and sexual satisfaction, so talk to your partner about your anxieties around sex and find other ways to create intimacy.
Focus on intimacy through affection and conversation. Unfortunately, cultural expectations and the misinformed notion of how often “normal couples” have sex can result in emotional difficulties for one or both partners. Feeling pressured into sex is an instant turn off for almost everyone!
How to know when you are ready to have sex after having a baby
Taking good care of yourself plays a really important part of your interest and openness to sex. If you are feeling gross, don’t like your body and would rather hide away, think of little things that you can do which would help you to feel sexier again.
Perhaps buying some new lingerie that hides your tummy but that makes you feel more confident? Buying a luxurious body cream and carving out a little time to have a shower and use the cream while your partner watches the baby.
If you’re ready to have sex, don’t forget that you need to be using a suitable method of contraception if you do not want to fall pregnant. Unfortunately breastfeeding is not sufficient at always preventing pregnancy.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: How to choose the right birth control for you
About Catriona Boffard
Catriona is an accredited clinical sexologist, psychotherapist, sexuality researcher & speaker. She is an expert in the field of sexual behaviour, intimacy, relationships and mental well-being, with a particular interest in helping people create or reestablish sexual intimacy and empowering women to embrace their sexuality.
She has delivered her expertise across media, business and private platforms and is a globally recognised voice in the field of sex, pleasure and relationships. She runs a global practice online, consulting with clients from around the world, but has a practice in Johannesburg, South Africa and London, United Kingdom.