When Can You Resume Sexual Intercourse After Having a Baby?

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When you're trying to juggle the needs of a new baby, get some sleep and heal your own body, sex might be the last thing on your mind as a new mom. But you can bet it's on your partner's mind, and sooner or later you might actually feel the slightest stirrings of those old feelings yourself. Rest assured that parenthood won't put sex on the back burner forever -- but don't rush it. Most obstetricians recommend giving yourself a few weeks to heal first.

How Long to Wait

  • Whether you delivered vaginally or via cesarean section, your obstetrician probably will tell you to abstain until your first postpartum checkup, normally four to six weeks after you deliver. This not only provides time for any tears or incisions to heal but also allows your cervix to close and postpartum bleeding to stop, according to MayoClinic.com. Deaths have occurred when women had vaginal or oral sex within the first few weeks after delivery, according to a 2010 article published in the "American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology." Air can enter the blood vessels in the uterus that haven't yet healed where the placenta implanted. This can cause an air embolism, a potentially fatal condition, the Netdoctor website warns.

Potential Issues

  • If you had an episiotomy, it's important to wait until your stitches have healed before having sex, so you don't tear or develop an infection. You're not likely to feel up to having sex before then, anyway, since your vagina will be tender and often quite dry from hormonal changes. If you had a cesarean delivery, your abdominal incision will feel sore, so you might feel uncomfortable with any pressure on your abdomen when having sex in the missionary position. Sore breasts during the first few weeks of nursing can also leave you feeling less than sexy. If you're breastfeeding, you might leak milk from your nipples during sex.

Easing the Way

  • A large percentage of women experience discomfort or pain when having sex after delivery; as many as 83 percent complain of sexual problems, including pain, dryness or irritation in the first three months after delivery, according to a British study published in the February 2000 issue of "BJOG." By six months, the number of women still having problems dropped to 64 percent. Use lubrication the first time you have sex postpartum, even if you've never needed it before. Go slow and proceed only if you feel OK. Warming up with cuddling that leads to something more can help rekindle your somewhat dormant sexual feelings.

Birth Control

  • You can get pregnant again if you have unprotected sex, even if you haven't had a period since giving birth. Women who don't breastfeed can ovulate as early as 28 days after delivery, reports Dr. Deborah Bateson, medical director of Family Planning NSW, in "The Sydney Morning Herald." You're less likely to ovulate -- and you have to ovulate to get pregnant -- if you're exclusively breastfeeding and not giving your baby bottles or solid foods. However, nothing is a sure thing when it comes to Mother Nature; if you don't want another baby right away, use birth control. Talk to your obstetrician before you deliver about the birth control method you want to use after having your baby.

References

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