Having sex for the first time after giving birth is not unlike having sex for the first time ever — awkward and a bit painful. However, just like your first time, there are a few things that tend to happen for which you can prepare yourself so it’s slightly less awkward in the moment.
That being said, there’s no reason to be scared of your first time back in the sack post birth. You’re simply dealing with an injured area that will take some time to heal before it’s back up and running normally. The most important thing is not to rush it — you wouldn’t jump right back into a running routine if you just had knee surgery right?
However similar to your first time, while there are some relatable experiences, sex after giving birth is different for everyone, both emotionally and physically. Just because one woman had pain in one position doesn’t mean you will too. Odds are, if you enjoyed it before, you likely will again, it just may take some getting used to. Here are five tips that may help you feel more confident about getting busy for the first time after popping out your offspring.
1. You have to be really patient, and so does your partner
The worst thing you can do is rush things your first time out of the gate. Most obstetricians tell women to wait at least six weeks, or until after their first postpartum doctor’s appointment just to make sure everything looks good down there. Dr. Laura Riley, Director of Labor and Delivery at Massachusetts General Hospital and author of You & Your Baby: Pregnancy says, “You should be completely back on your feet, no longer bleeding, have had a conversation about birth control and started taking birth control.”
Having sex too early could cause a reopening of lacerations in your vagina that haven’t healed yet. Even a C-section can get infected by bacteria from the vagina if it hasn’t had sufficient time to heal.
2. Being emotionally ready is just as important as being physically ready
Just as important as it is for your physical self being in prime condition to have sex, you must also feel emotionally ready to be intimate in that way again. According to Dr. Riley, “Some new moms are physically and mentally fatigued, and not feeling sexy. They’re anxious about their vaginal area being ready. Some are still leaking urine. If you’re tense, sex is more likely to be uncomfortable.” You also may be sleep deprived, feel really not sexy or just not be in the mood. If you feel up to it, have a glass of wine, and test the waters, or if you’re not there yet, that’s OK too.
3. It won’t definitely be painful, but it’s likely
Some women experience no pain at all during their first foray postpartum. This is especially true for women who wait longer before giving it a try. However, many do have some discomfort, but know it’s totally normal, and will pass. Dr. Riley says, “Your uterus and cervix may be lower than it used to be. You might have had a repair that is a little bit tight.”
More: 6 Sex-after-birth problems all new parents encounter
Things probably changed a bit down there, especially if you had natural childbirth. Some positions that you loved before may feel irksome now, and others that you felt eh about could become your new favorites. Think of it this way, it’s like you’re exploring your body for the first time again, and while that can be weird, it can also be super exciting and (dare I say?) fun.
4. You have to get your groove back
And I don’t mean all in one night. If sex is suddenly uncomfortable for a woman, it may be hard for her to want to jump back into it on a regular basis. Riley says it can take up to a year for some women to feel totally back to normal, sexually speaking. But for most, it’s just like riding a bike — it starts feeling like second nature the more you do it.
5. Breastfeeding may mess with your libido (and other things)
One of the reasons you may not be feeling up to sex is because you’re breastfeeding. The hormone prolactin that helps make milk for your baby is also a known libido killer. Breastfeeding also lowers your estrogen levels, which, aside from lowering your sex drive, can dry out your vagina. Fun!
You’re definitely going to want a lubricant for your first time (preferably a water-based one, because it’s the least irritating on your recovering skin). Your breasts may also be pretty sensitive because they are now full-time baby feeders, so make sure your partner is aware of it and plays nicely.
More: Sex after baby: Will it ever be good again?