MIDWIFE SUPPORT
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SEX after Childbirth

Many women and their partners believe that sexual intercourse can not occur until at least 6 weeks after giving birth. A major influence on this is that postnatal check ups with a GP are generally scheduled around 6 weeks postpartum.

If a woman has experienced a spontaneous vaginal birth with no laceration or tears, then she can resume sex once her vaginal bleeding has stopped. This usually occurs within 4-6 weeks postpartum.

It is not recommended to participate in sexual intercourse until bleeding has ceased as internal healing is still taking place; this also applies to women who have birthed by caesarean. In fact, many women who have had a caesarean not only have fears relating to their vagina but also the fear of pain that they may feel from contact during sex to their uterine scar.

A female’s body changes a lot during pregnancy, as we are all aware. These changes continue once she has birthed her baby. Changes include:
– The uterus shrinking down to its normal size
– Vaginal bleeding, likely to occur for the first month postpartum
– Haemorrhoids present, either from her pregnancy or may have developed during birth causing discomfort
– The vagina gradually has to return to its pre pregnant size, usually by around 6-8 weeks
– Her vaginal may initially be oedematous (swollen), especially if she has had any stitches or an instrumental birth.
Most women won’t experience pain from their stitches after 6 weeks, but this can vary individually depending on the type of birth experienced.

On average majority of women resume sexual intercourse by 3 months after giving birth, most starting by 6 weeks. Mothers who birthed by caesarean or have vaginal stitches are more likely to wait longer before engaging in sexual intercourse. Studies show if we can avoid unnecessary use of instruments, episiotomies, and epidurals, it will improve a woman’s opportunity to engage in sexual intercourse after childbirth.

(Sex and intimacy after birth, 2013; Radestad 2008)

Even if a woman is physically ready to resume sexual intercourse, there are plenty of other factors impacting this decision. New parents can find it hard to become intimate. There are huge emotional factors as mums and dads adapt to parenthood. Parents can be more tired, have less time, hormonal changes still occurring, worries about their newborn, breastfeeding concerns and contraceptive worries.

So the question of when to have sex after giving birth is mostly up to you and your partner. When you both feel ready and it feels like the right time for the both of you. Women should not be made to feel pressured into intercourse, nor judge for resuming earlier than others.

Ebony Young, BornOnline Midwife.

References

Polomeno, V, Sexual Intercourse After the Birth of a Baby, international journal of child birth education, viewed 9 August 2014, http://search.proquest.com.acs.hcn.com.au/health/docview/212865958?pq-origsite=summon

RÃ¥destad, I, Olsson, A Nissen, E & Rubertsson, C, 2008, Tears in the Vagina, Perineum, Sphincter Ani, and Rectum and First Sexual Intercourse after Childbirth: A Nationwide Follow-up, Blackwell publishing Ltd, viewed 8 August 2014, http://ovidsp.tx.ovid.com/sp3.12.0b/ovidweb.cgi?&S=JFPFFPHGFNDDGBEHNCMKDAGCMMKDAA00&Link+Set=jb.search.25%7c1%7csl_10

Sex and intimacy after a baby, 2013, raising children network, viewed 8 August 2014, http://raisingchildren.net.au/articles/sex_after_a_baby.html