Sex After Childbirth: An Ob-Gyn Offers Tips & What to Expect

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Medically Reviewed By:
Mark Arredondo, M.D.

Bringing a new life into the world delivers significant changes to a woman's body.

As a result, the idea of resuming sexual intimacy after giving birth can feel unfamiliar and even daunting. The timeline for returning to this important aspect of a relationship varies for everyone. In this article, an ob/gyn explores when it's safe to have sex after birth, potential differences you might notice and valuable tips for enhancing your post-baby sexual experiences.

How long after birth can you have sex?

When resuming sexual activity after giving birth, there isn't a one-size-fits-all answer. While it's common to wonder how long you should wait, remember that healing varies from person to person. Moreover, even if you're physically healed, emotional or psychological factors could influence your readiness.

Dr. Adi Davidov, associate chair and director of obstetrics and gynecology at Staten Island University Hospital in New York City, offers guidance: "Most physicians recommend refraining from intercourse for six weeks after birth," he said.

Research published recently in the journal Sexual Medicine says that pregnancy and childbirth introduce biological, psychological and social changes that can impact sexual well-being. Sleep deprivation, altered body image and urinary issues are among the factors that can contribute to changes in sexual function. Studies indicate that around 89% of women resume sexual activity within six months of childbirth. However, sexual dysfunction prevalence can range from 41% to 83% at two to three months postpartum to 64% at six months postpartum.

Ultimately, your comfort and readiness are the key. Whether it takes a few weeks or several months, it's important to prioritize what feels right for you and your partner while ensuring open communication and understanding.

What may be different with sex after having a baby?

"After a vaginal birth, the vagina is usually stretched and the anatomy slightly changes. This change can sometimes be appreciated during intercourse," Davidov said. "In addition, when women breastfeed, they often feel dry in the vagina.”

Carrying a child, experiencing labor and going through vaginal childbirth can result in the stretching or potential injury of your pelvic floor muscles, which support the uterus, bladder, small intestine and rectum, the Mayo Clinic states.

Strengthening these muscles can be achieved through Kegel exercises. Visualize yourself sitting on a small marble and engage your pelvic muscles as if you're lifting the marble. Hold for three seconds and then release for another three. Progress by aiming for 10 to 15 repetitions in a row, repeated thrice daily.

Tips for making sex better post-baby

After welcoming a baby, finding ways to reconnect intimately with your partner might require adjustment. Small steps can make a big difference in making sex better and more comfortable in this new phase of life.

For starters, addressing any dryness with lubricants can greatly improve the experience. As Davidov suggests, "I recommend using lubrication during intercourse." Additionally, don't hesitate to consult your health care provider if you experience pain during sex, as they can provide treatment options.

Scheduling dedicated time for intimacy allows you and your partner to focus on each other. University Hospitals recommends relaxing, taking it slow and openly communicating with your partner about what feels good. Exploring alternatives like massage or oral sex can also add variety.

Remember, intimacy isn't limited to intercourse. Engage in honest conversations with your partner if you feel apprehensive or uneasy. Strengthening your bond can involve shared activities, whether a simple moment together or something more elaborate, allowing you to nurture your relationship beyond the demands of parenthood.

What to know about birth control

The potential for pregnancy remains even in the weeks following childbirth. If sexual intercourse is part of your life, considering birth control is crucial unless you're ready for another pregnancy.

"I recommend birth control as soon as a woman becomes sexually active after birth," Davidov said. "Theoretically, a woman may become pregnant as soon as six weeks after the birth of her baby."

While breastfeeding can offer some protection against pregnancy, it's not foolproof. "Yes. It is possible to get pregnant while breastfeeding, but it's rare. Women who solely breastfeed are usually protected from getting pregnant for the first six months," Davidov noted.

UT Southwestern Medical Center suggests several birth control options post-childbirth, including Depo Provera shots lasting about three months, long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC) devices effective for up to 10 years, and tubal ligation for a permanent solution. Prioritizing birth control empowers you to manage your reproductive choices as you navigate the post-baby phase.


Adi Davidov, associate chair and director, obstetrics and gynecology, Staten Island University Hospital, New York City

Sexual Medicine: Postpartum Female Sexual Function: Risk Factors for Postpartum Sexual Dysfunction

Mayo Clinic: Labor and Delivery, Postpartum Care

University Hospitals: Sex After Birth: Resuming Sexual Intimacy After Having a Baby

UT Southwestern Medical Center: Birth Control After Childbirth: Long-term Options for New Moms

Cleveland Clinic: What You Should Know About Postpartum Sex

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