Sex and Childbirth

Sex and Childbirth

Sometimes women feel 'touched out' from holding and caring for their babies all day.

Sex During Pregnancy

Most of the time it is perfectly safe to have sex during pregnancy. If you have a high-risk pregnancy, ask your doctor or other caregiver if it's safe.

Will you want to?

Different women have different feelings and your interest in sex may decline (or grow). You and your partner will need to talk about what feels right to you.

As your pregnancy advances, intercourse may become uncomfortable. You may want to try other sexual activities or explore new positions. Be creative and find what is right for you.

Sex After Giving Birth

The months after giving birth are a challenging and tiring time. The demands of your new life may be a more important limit on your sex life than any physical changes. Some couples feel that sex is an important way to make time for each other; others would rather take the time to talk and cuddle. Women may feel 'touched out' because they spend so much of their time touching and holding their baby. Both parents may feel overwhelmed by their new responsibilities. Take the time to talk about your feelings and consider trying to find time for sex during the day when you are less exhausted and sleepy.

Physically it is safe to have sex after the lochia stops. Lochia is the vaginal bleeding that occurs after delivery. This bleeding stops when the cervix has returned to its natural size. Having sex before the lochia stops could put you at risk of a serious infection.

Sex may be uncomfortable, especially in the first weeks. You may have pain around an episiotomy or Caesarean incision. While scars are forming in these areas, try to use positions that don't put pressure on the new tissue.

Vaginal dryness is also common especially if you are breast-feeding. The same hormones that prompt your body to produce milk also reduce your ability to lubricate. A water-based lubricant may help. Go slow and give your body more time to lubricate. The hormones stimulated by orgasm also cause your breast milk to flow, so don't be surprised if you need a towel.

If you don't want to get pregnant again, birth control is important.

Cervical barriers may have to be re-sized before you can use them again. Talk to your doctor or caregiver about what forms of birth control are best for you. Hormonal methods that do not contain estrogen like Depo Provera (injections) and Micronon (pills) are safe for use once breast feeding has been well established. Breast-feeding alone may help to prevent pregnancy in the first six months as long as your period has not started again and this is the only way your baby is eating. However breast-feeding as a mode of birth control is not completely reliable. To be more certain of avoiding pregnancy, you may wish to begin using birth control again shortly after giving birth.

The hormonal changes after pregnancy may affect some women's sexual desire. This is temporary. Talk to your doctor if it feels like it has gone on for too long. This can be one sign of post-partum depression.

Some women may also be self-conscious about their bodies after giving birth. It is important for your partner to be loving and supportive about body image issues.

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