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How Long to Wait to Have Sex After Birth?

Updated: Aug 10, 2023

Alright people, let’s talk about the elephant in the room… and no it has nothing to do with nursing or diapering your baby. It has everything to do with how you ended up with a baby in the first place!

I came across a great podcast the other day from Sarah McClure and Charli Zarosinski, titled Let’s Talk About Sex (after a) Baby. I found it really interesting and totally relevant to my own postpartum experience with sex and if I had this information back then (20 years ago!), my inner critic would have been more kind, more compassionate, and little more patient. I feel a sense of relief (even after all these years) that there wasn’t something wrong with me because I didn’t have the desire to have sex right away.

McClure and Zarosinski ask the question “how long after birth do you have to wait to have sex?”

And the answer is that it depends on several factors!

On a mental/emotional level, you have a little human providing nearly all the touch you could possible need thru breastfeeding, soothing/holding, and snuggles, and that sometimes the additional close contact with another is just too much or overwhelming.

On a physical/physiological level, there are a lot of hormonal changes that may be impacting your libido:

1) your hormones are saying we have a baby! We don’t need to make a baby

2) your hormones are also focused on breastfeeding rather than sex drive

4) your pelvic floor muscles are potentially traumatized and over stretched, and there’s a chance that an injury occurred during childbirth causing sexual and toileting dysfunction (a pelvic floor assessment from a care provider is recommended).

5) you want to make sure that postpartum bleeding has discontinued for at least 48 consecutive hours before having sex.

6) lastly, you want to make sure you’re not in any physical pain.

And something that’s probably not given much consideration, but is nonetheless important is the image/personality switch you have to undergo to go from thinking of your body/breasts as “food source for baby” to “sexy and sensual”. That for me was one of the toughest hurdles to overcome.

What’s the “normal” time period to wait? Your doctor will likely say 6 weeks postpartum, but it’s important to not live by shoulds, such as “I should feel like having sex by now” or “I should be all better”. Rather than setting yourself against this outside norm, it’s imperative to listen to your own body and do what feels right for you. If you’re just not “feelin’ it” for whatever reason, honor your feelings and know that it’ll pass. Be patience and gentle with yourself!


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