After about 9 months of reduced sexual activity during fetal development, a couple may be ready to resume intercourse shortly after pregnancy. At what point after delivery does it become safe to continue having sex?

You really do have to wait 4 to 6 weeks

Whether you gave birth vaginally or by C-section, it’s crucial to wait to have sex until your doctor gives you the green light. At your 6-week postpartum checkup, your doctor will check that the cervix has closed, bleeding has subsided, and that tears and cuts have healed. Jumping into bed any sooner can potentially lead to an infection or cause down-there tears to reopen.

Chance of getting hurt

Once you get the okay for intercourse, sex might feel like you’re losing your virginity again. Even if you had a c-section, hormonal changes can leave your vagina dry and tender, especially if you’re breast-feeding. And some women who’ve had vaginal births take longer than the 6-week mark to fully heal from tears or an episiotomy. Your best protection is a long-lasting silicone-based lube that coats the vagina and reduces friction against sore spots. And be sure to take things slowly and try positions that avoid sensitive areas and put you in control, such as being on top, Cadell suggests.


Vaginal dryness occurs in all postpartum women, whether they had a vaginal or cesarean birth. “The type of moisture that makes sex pleasurable gets depleted after birth,” Dr. Hutcherson explains. “That’s thanks to a drop in estrogen—the hormone responsible for sexual arousal and lubrication levels.” The dryness (and the irritation and painful sex that can come with it) will eventually ease up as your hormone levels return to normal, so keep using lube until sex gets more comfortable. If dryness is a major issue, talk to your doctor about using a vaginal moisturizer like Replens. More rarely, your doc might prescribe a topical estrogen cream or suppository.

Your libido may temporarily hibernate

It’s been 6 weeks (or way more) since you’ve done the deed. You should be dying for it, right? Not so for many women. Hormonal changes, sleep deprivation, and breastfeeding can all cause your sex drive to plummet, Dr. Hutcherson says. “I always reiterate to new moms that a lack of sexual desire after baby is perfectly normal, and not to stress over it,” Dr. Hutcherson says. “In fact, I tell my patients to expect a year to return to normal.” If you’re not ready for sex, simply cuddling with your partner for at least 6 minutes boosts oxytocin, the bonding hormone that increases intimacy and reduces stress.

Your breasts might become a no-touch zone

Between a baby eating off your boobs 10-plus times a day—and the dry, cracked nipples that ensue—you might not want them to be touched, or you might feel squeamish about your partner putting his hands or mouth in that area. (That’s on top of the fact that the hormones your body produces to maintain your milk supply may actually decrease desire and increase vaginal dryness, Dr. Hutcherson adds.) Use the opportunity to have your partner explore other body parts that turn you on, Cadell suggests.
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Prepare for some leaking

Here’s something your mother never warned you about: If you’re breastfeeding, your breasts might actually squirt milk during sex or foreplay. That’s because during sex, your body releases oxytocin, a hormone that makes you feel more bonded and connected to your partner, but is also responsible for your milk let down (read: leaking), Dr. Hutcherson says. If you’re nervous about leakage, wear a bra with nursing pads or keep a towel handy. Or try pumping or nursing before you have sex to prevent letdown, Dr. Hutcherson suggests. And don’t panic: It doesn’t happen to everyone!

Sex can take planning

When you’ve got a squalling little roommate, late night feedings may end up replacing nighttime romps; sleeping in can feel more refreshing than a sexy morning wakeup. A new baby can be all consuming, so scheduling time for sex—even if you never were that couple—can help keep your sex life going, at least during those first few crazy months. Plus, planning can feel sexy, too. Don’t believe us? Try sending your partner a Google calendar request for sex at 8 p.m. and see what happens.
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But it can also feel sexier than ever

Many new parents find that post-baby sex can feel especially scandalous, Cadell says—think squeezing in quickies while the baby naps or trying to keep hushed in the heat of the moment. Having a child together can also make the two of you even more emotionally connected, and that can make sex feel more intimate than ever. The truth is that having a baby changes your sex life, but it can also make it fresh and fun—embrace it!


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