Irrespective of how you gave birth, most doctors will advise that you wait at least 6 weeks post-delivery before having sex again. By this stage your lochia should have stopped and unless you had postnatal complications, your scars (from a tear, episiotomy or a caesarean) should have healed.

Despite 6 weeks being the ‘rule of thumb’, this is not to say you can’t enjoy other activities such as masturbation, oral sex, or intimate massage. And when it comes to having sex again, enjoy! And don’t forget lube. Lots and lots of lube, as the fluctuation of hormones can lead to dryness.

Once again, the question of ‘when’ will change from woman to woman. If you’re unsure it’s always recommended to have an open conversation with your GP or even just your close friends. If you still don’t feel ready 6,10,12, 20 weeks later, that’s okay.

Sex After Birth, The Final Taboo

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Can I get pregnant again?

Women ovulate for the first time after birth at different times. Some after just weeks, some after months. The same goes for the return of your period. A largely contributing factor to this timing is whether or not you’re breastfeeding. Despite timing, the return of the ovulation phase and the menstrual phase of your cycle are both important factors to come to grips with, as they directly affect the chance of falling pregnant again. While some women will be open to conceiving again within the first year, others will not.

Ovulation is the phase of the menstrual cycle where an egg is released from one of the woman’s ovaries. It usually occurs around 2 weeks before the start of the menstrual period (the bleed). During the ovulation phase, women are highly fertile. They’re most fertile during the 2 day ovulation window, however it’s still possible to conceive during the days immediately before and after.

Your period (the bleed during the menstruation phase) on the other hand is the shedding of the uterus lining. The period itself is a combination of both blood and tissue from inside the uterus which passes out of the body through the vagina. Is it possible to become pregnant without your period returning? Yes. Even if you’re yet to get your period back, you may be in the ovulation phase of your cycle. For this reason, if you do not want another pregnancy, you’ll need contraception. Your 6 week checkup is a great time to talk to your GP about your options.

Breastfeeding can reduce fertility, but it’s not a contraception. There is an old wives tale that women who are breastfeeding cannot fall pregnant. This is false. You are less likely to fall pregnant when breastfeeding but it’s absolutely still possible.

In a nutshell, breastfeeding releases oxytocin which suppresses the ovulation phase. Without ovulation, no egg is released and therefore a baby cannot be conceived. This methodology however can vary pending various factors, meaning it is not airtight.

If you are breastfeeding and you want to become sexually active again but you also don’t want to risk falling pregnant, visit your GP and talk through the best method of contraception.

Your relationship after birth

Couples are faced with extreme change in a very short amount of time during the newborn phase. Due to this change, it is entirely normal to experience a downward shift in your sense of closeness, your libido or simply your usual relationship habits.

Go easy on yourself and communicate how you’re feeling with your partner. If your libido is low, rather than addressing it in terms of sex, try and shift your focus to intimate touches such as a hug or holding hands to foster an emotional connection and add a touch of intimacy. Little things count in a big way.

As the busyness of life with a newborn can easily consume you both, scheduling ‘adult’ time, when it’s available to you, is a nice way to touch base and see where you're both at. If you can leave the baby with someone or simply take a long walk with the pram, you might find the space to talk about things you haven’t spoken about in a while.

For more on this topic, find a link below to a conversation with the wonderful Aleeya Hachem, a highly regarded sexologist;

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