Sex During & After Pregnancy

Sexuality & The Pregnant Woman

The physical changes that take place during the first trimester can seem overwhelming. You're tired, so you require extra sleep. You may feel nauseous, fatigued and extra sensitive in the breasts. For many women, such things can put a damper on sexual desire, cooling-off physical relations with their partner.

Still, many others report feeling extremely sexual and attractive during their pregnancy. Both extremes - and everything in between - are considered normal. As with relationships during all other phases of our lives, the most important thing that you and your partner talk about how you're feeling. Even if you feel unattractive, your partner may feel differently, and you may find that you can allow those feelings to influence your own. Many people feel very close to their pregnant partners during this time in their lives, even protective of them.

Conversely, some partners seem uninterested in sex. They may have emotional issues that they need to work through, such as fears of inadequacy or financial security. However, some women discover that the apparent disinterest or rejection was merely a masked concern that you ad/or the baby might be injured by having sex. It is important for you both to note that, under normal circumstances, sexual intercourse during pregnancy is perfectly safe. Your doctor or nurse-midwife will instruct you differently if there are physiological concerns. Make certain to talk with your healthcare provider about what is or isn't occurring, and find out what is best for you.

If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, your doctor or nurse-midwife may advise you to avoid intercourse:

  • a history of miscarriage
  • abdominal pain
  • vaginal bleeding
  • vaginal pain or infection
  • any condition that puts you at risk of preterm labor

One of the best ways to maintain a healthy sexual relationship is by maintaining a healthy emotional relationship. Try to have fun together, sharing the excitement of this special time. Talk each other, listen to each other, and laugh with each other. Keep in mind that sex isn't everything. Hugging, touching, and cuddling are just as good at bringing two-people closer together.

Resuming Sex After Birth

When you resume sexual activity after the birth of your child is an individual matter.

Following these general guidelines may help:

  • The earliest you should have sex is after your vaginal discharge has changed from brownish-red to white or clear. This is an indication that your uterus has healed.
  • If you have sore stitches or a tear, you may not be ready for sex until after your 6-week checkup.
  • The hormones of pregnancy and breastfeeding reduce normal vaginal lubrication. Use K-Y Jelly if you need an additional lubricant.

If your stitches tear or make your vagina very tender, try these suggestions:

  • Avoid having sex if you feel uncomfortable or have any pain. Some women may require more time to heal than others.
  • Use a generous amount of lubricant.
  • Try sexual positions like side-to-side or you on top of your partner for a while to put less strain on your incision.
  • Try feeding your baby before sex. Your baby may sleep and give you two some time alone!

More information related to sexual activity after birth:

  • If you are breastfeeding, your milk may leak out when you have an orgasm.
  • Remember even though you have just given birth and may be breastfeeding, you can still get pregnant.
  • If you find that sex is still uncomfortable after a few months, talk to your health care provider.
  • Discuss your feelings and concerns with your partner.

Sex After Pregnancy

Some women desire sex just a few weeks after giving birth. Others need more time. Whether giving birth vaginally or by Cesarean-section, your body will need some time to heal before having intercourse again. Most doctors recommend a 6-week waiting-period so that postpartum bleeding can cease, the cervix can close, and any tears or lacerations can heal.

Be aware that your vagina may be dry or tender (especially if you're breast-feeding), so begin with cuddling, kissing or massage and build stimulation slowly. Muscle-tone in the vagina is decreased by vaginal deliveries, reducing pleasurable friction. The Kegel exercises will help with this.

Use a lubricating cream or gel if dryness is a problem. It may also be helpful to try some different positions. Communicate openly with your partner about what feels good, and what does not.

Talk with your doctor or nurse-midwife if discomfort or pain continues. Applying a low-dose estrogen cream to the vagina may be helpful, and your health care provider may also recommend additional treatment.

Birth Control Options

Unless you're hoping to become pregnant right away, use a reliable method of birth control. Barrier methods like condoms and spermicides are preferred by many, but hormonal birth control is ok too.

Important Note: If you are breast-feeding, be certain you select a hormone method which doesn't interfere. Ask your doctor or nurse-midwife about the options during your postpartum check-up.

Your Sex Drive

It is important to note that your sex-drive may be affected by fatigue, changes in body-image and even mild depression. If you feel uninterested in having sex, it may be a perfectly natural phase. Remember that there's more to sexual intimacy than intercourse. You and your partner are both adjusting to life with a new baby, so open communication is critical. If you're afraid sex will be painful or you're feeling undesirable, share your concerns with your partner. Intimacy can be shared in other ways, until you're ready to have sex again.

Improving Intimacy

One of the most important things you can do is to spend time together without the baby, even if it's just moments in the morning or after baby's bedtime at night. Brief phone-calls during the day are helpful, and taking a bath together might be an additional way to express affection. More than anything else, we recommend taking it easy. Allow yourselves space to adjust to parenthood.