After giving birth, the general rule of thumb is to hold off on sex for 4 to 6 weeks. Giving birth takes a major physical and emotional toll on your body, so you need to give your body time to heal before any sexual penetration. Typically, your doctor will give you the okay to resume having sex during your first postnatal check-up, which takes place about 6 weeks after the birth.
Giving birth has been likened to having a small bomb go off inside the body. Your vaginal tissues are bruised and torn, and your vagina bleeds for weeks after the birth. Your hormones are also completely out of whack. It may take weeks or even months for you body to heal from the damage.
Doctors recommend waiting until after postnatal bleeding has stopped before having sex. Vaginal bleeding after having a baby, known as lochia, can last anywhere from 2 to 8 weeks. For the first few days after the birth, the lochia flows similar to a heavy period and is bright red in color. As the womb heals, the bleeding decreases, and the color changes into a pinkish-brown color and finally into a yellowish white.
Your body also must heal from any soreness, lacerations or incisions before you have sex. Perineal tears, which are lacerations in the area between a woman’s vagina and anus, are common, especially for women having their first vaginal birth. Often these lacerations require stitches and may take a few weeks to heal. Women who have undergone cesarean birth or an episiotomy, an incision to enlarge the vaginal opening, should wait until they are fully recovered from their surgery before sexual penetration.
Physical exhaustion is a common complaint for new mothers. The combination of 9 months of pregnancy and the hours of labor can leave you feeling too wiped out to even think about sex. Plus, you are now taking care of a newborn who needs around-the-clock attention, meaning you probably aren’t getting much sleep. This fatigue can last from a few weeks to a few months.
Make sure that you are emotionally ready before resuming sexual intercourse. Due to the sudden drop in hormones, most women experience an emotional upheaval after giving birth and may have no interest in sex. In fact, 50 to 70 percent of new mothers experience a mild form of postnatal depression called the “baby blues” in the first 2 weeks after delivery. A more severe form known as postpartum depression (PPD) affects between 8 and 20 percent of women, usually in the first 4 weeks after the birth.