New mommies always go through a period of exhaustion, adjustment, wake-up calls, and crazy hormones. Eventually, you get the perfect routine down pat and your everyday life gets a little more manageable. Then, one night you get your baby to sleep a little earlier, you’ve done all the laundry, taken a shower, and there is a glimmer of hope you’ll get to connect with your partner a little more intimately than you have in weeks… maybe months. OK a lot more intimately. Sex. It’s actually on your mind. BUT, you may be a bit nervous because…
Guess what? You’re nerves are justified. Sex after having a baby hurts.
The truth is, painful sex postpartum is normal and extremely common. One study found that almost 90% of women experience pain the first time they have sex after childbirth. If you’ve just had a baby and can’t wait to jump back in the sack with your partner, read on to find out why it hurts to have sex after giving birth and what you can do to help.
Why it’s Painful to Have Sex After Having a Baby
The average amount of time couples wait to have sex after having a baby is 4 weeks to 6 months (!). Most doctors recommend you wait a full 6 weeks to allow your body enough time to heal and recuperate.
Painful sex after giving birth is caused by a few things. During pregnancy your estrogen levels are at their highest. Once you give birth, your levels drop tremendously. If you’re breastfeeding, your estrogen levels will be even lower than if you weren’t. You will experience vaginal dryness, soreness, and possibly a burning sensation.
Sex postpartum can also be painful due to muscle spasms. Pregnancy causes the muscles and tissues connected to the front and back of the pelvis to stretch, leading to tight muscles in your pelvic floor. This is why you’ll experience muscle spasms and tension during penetration. We can’t stress enough how completely normal this is!
Nearly 70 to 80 percent of women experience the baby blues once they’ve given birth. Baby blues are thought to be caused by the fluctuation of hormones, but there’s no clear reason why so many women experience them. Some symptoms include crying for no reason, fatigue, anxiety, and mood changes. Some women will struggle with a more intense version of the baby blues, postpartum depression.
All of these factors lead to low libido, which results in painful and uncomfortable sex after you’ve had a baby.
The Pain is Temporary
Although it may seem like the sky is falling, remember that pain during sex is temporary and won’t last forever. It’s important to keep this in mind if you start to feel overwhelmed. If you’re experiencing painful sex for longer than 6 months postpartum, then definitely make an appointment to see your physician. Otherwise, there are many things you can do to ease back into pleasurable, fun, and feel-good sex.
How to Ease Back Into Sex Postpartum
The main thing you need to do is take a break. Make sure you and your partner wait the full 4 to 6 weeks before you get intimate again. Be patient with yourself and understand your hormones will be all over the place, you will likely be abnormally dry.
Chances are, your man will want to get right to it after waiting for weeks. Understandable, but that doesn’t change the fact that you need to take it slow. Take the time to engage in foreplay to naturally lubricate or try using lube! Even if you feel like you don’t need it, use it anyway. It will make sex much more comfortable and less painful. If you’re going to be using a condom, don’t go for an oil-based lubricant as they will break down the latex, which defeats the entire purpose.
If you’re not prone to yeast infections or other types of vaginal infections, coconut oil is an amazing natural lubricant. If you are, coconut oil is an antibacterial and antifungal, so there’s a chance it will get rid of both good and bad bacteria, disrupting your natural pH balance. Instead, go for the regular silicone-based lube.
Sex WILL be enjoyable again, just have patience and practice self-care.
Painful Sex After a C-Section
Sex isn’t just painful for women who have had a vaginal birth. Even though a woman who gets a cesarean didn’t have a vaginal birth, sex afterwards will still be painful. It is still required that you wait 4 to 6 weeks to have sex after having a baby.
You’ll likely experience pain in your incision area which itself will cause discomfort during intimacy. Remember, you did just give birth and chances are, you will still experience the common postpartum symptoms: low estrogen, muscle contractions and spasms, and possibly mood swings and sadness. Again, these are all causes of painful sex after having your baby.
It’s important to take the same precautions and self-care tips we talked about for the women who went through a vaginal birth.
Remember ladies, after just giving birth to your new baby, you’re in charge! Take your doctor’s recommendations, wait at least 4 to 6 weeks, take it slow, real slow, a sexy kinda slow, slather on the lubrication, and have fun. You’ll be back to loving sex again in no time. Visit our pregnancy blog for more tips and advice!