Postpartum life is full of adjustments — and it doesn't matter whether you've had a vaginal delivery or caesarean; you'll know that giving birth and navigating recovery takes patience.
The transformation of parenthood engulfs all facets of life, and it's normal if you're wondering how to reintroduce important aspects of life before pregnancy and your new baby.
Alongside being a new mum, you're also human and you might be thinking about sex.
On the other hand, it might be the last thing on your mind, and both responses are totally normal.
Whether sex isn't on the cards for a while, and makes you feel nervous or you're itching to get back in between the sheets, we'll answer common questions about sex after C-section.
But, before we do, let's get one thing straight, the top priority is your recovery, and it's okay if you need a helping hand along the way.
Adjusting to motherhood, be it your first or third time, is something that deserves time.
Your body also needs time and some TLC to heal, so we created The C-Section Recovery Kit.
It can be hard to actually find time to prioritise self-care, and we wanted to create something to make it a little bit easier.
How long after a C-section can you have sex?
You're the expert in your life and body, so tune into your needs and wants to navigate sexual activity after cesarean delivery.
Although every person's experience of sex after a C-section is different, many people resume sex later compared to those who had a vaginal delivery.
Understandably, the recovery process takes time and the medical advice is to wait until you're six weeks postpartum.
It's a sage approach to hold off until your six-week postpartum checkup to arm yourself with the best health advice for your individual circumstances.
In saying that, this time can be confusing, especially since some of your friends might be sharing very different post-caesarean sex stories.
What about feeling emotionally ready?
Try to connect with your body's needs, your feelings and your partner.
Open discussions with your sexual partner/s about boundaries can also be crucial in planning to have sex, what kind of sex or deciding to wait longer.
Once you get the green light from your doctor, remember there's no need to rush.
Take a moment to consider your mental well-being — many people struggle with postpartum depression and anxiety and giving birth and caring for a baby is a monumental life change.
At such a delicate time, it's even more crucial to nurture yourself and open up.
Your body is still going through hormonal changes, and some people feel that sex isn't right for them as they navigate this process.
After all, sex is a physical and emotional experience, so both the mind and body need attention.
If you're struggling, know there's help available, and keeping in touch with your GP and health care professionals can help guide you to support and services.
Are there any risks associated with sex after a C-section?
Going slow is highly recommended as resuming intercourse after a caesarean delivery before the recommended six weeks can lead to an increased risk of infection and other complications.
Most women encounter some bleeding from the C-section incision site during the first few weeks of the postpartum period, making it a sensitive area to be mindful of in general, and especially when having sex.
Decisions about birth control options
An aspect of resuming sex is making decisions about whether birth control is right for you. It can easily slip your mind, with the distraction of a new baby but it's totally possible to fall pregnant in those early days postpartum.
Whatever your family goals are, resuming sex with peace of mind will contribute to making it a comfortable, stress-free experience.
What is the best way to avoid painful sex after a C-section?
When you feel ready to have sex, you might wonder how to avoid stifling your recovery process and increasing pain.
Many people feel nervous about resuming sex after birth so we've got some practical suggestions for how to avoid painful sex post-C-section.
We should mention first that resuming sex after cesarean delivery can come with some sporadic vaginal bleeding.
While it's nothing to panic about, you should consult your doctor or health provider as soon as possible if you're experiencing increased pain around the incision site or vagina.
- The best way to enjoy sex after a C-section is to take things slowly and experiment. Think of it as a time to explore new things and rediscover your body.
- Foreplay is your friend, so ensuring you are aroused is a top priority before resuming vaginal sex.
- All kinds of sexual activity are at your disposal: mutual masturbation, oral sex and intimate touching will help you get into the mood and navigate your body's tender areas slowly.
If you're experiencing pain or discomfort, take a break and talk it over with your doctor.
After all, everybody's experience of post-caesarean birth recovery is different, so you and your doctor are in the best position to make a plan for how to avoid painful sex.
What is the most comfortable sex position after having a C-section?
The good news is that there are a number of comfortable vaginal sex positions to try after a C-section.
- Positions where you are on top, like reverse cowgirl, mean you can gauge the depth of penetration, rhythm and contact with your abdomen.
- Give new meaning to the term "Netflix and Chill", try side-lying sex positions like spooning, which ensures there's no pressure on your healing incision site and unnecessary pain.
- Straddle positions where your partner crosses their legs and leans back makes it more comfortable for you to get on top and stabilise yourself.
We also want to call out that comfortable sex isn't all about the position you're in. Another influence is having a sexual partner/s who is conscious of your needs and boundaries.
It's okay if you want to wait longer before trying vaginal sex or sexual activities that include penetration, even after giving it a try.
Having a partner/s that are receptive to your C-section recovery journey and relationship with sex after giving birth is key to feeling comfortable in the long run.
What about vaginal dryness?
Another friend who'll make sexual activities run smoothly is lube. Vaginal lubrication is actually a good friend of arousal and pleasure in general, but now more than ever it's worth investing in some good quality lube, like NORMAL's Water-Based Lube or Silicon-Based Lube, depending on your personal preference.
It's common to experience vaginal dryness after birth and it's all connected to your hormones, particularly estrogen, which is in charge of vaginal lubrication, and is in low supply in the postpartum period, especially if you're breastfeeding.
This can also be the reason why many women report a loss of interest in sex postpartum.
Vaginal dryness makes sex uncomfortable in the best of times, never mind after giving birth.
But what's worse is that having sex without enough lubrication can cause pain, micro-tears and an increased risk of infection — all things you want to avoid at all costs.
Sex positions to avoid after a C-section delivery
You are the best person to decide which sexual positions are your jam, though we have a few pointers for you to consider avoiding for a while following caesarean delivery.
The main thing to remember here is that you'll want to avoid any sexual activity that puts too much pressure on your incision site and pelvic floor muscles.
Here are some of the sex positions to avoid during C-section recovery:
- Traditional missionary or any sexual activities where your partner's body weight is on you is a no-go.
- Doggy style is also one to avoid as it places extra pressure on your core and pelvic floor muscles.
- Standing positions are tricky too as your abdominal muscles are still healing.
When you're further along in your C-section recovery journey and decide to give it a go, still proceed with care and listen to your body.
Tips to enjoy sex after a C-section
Having sex after a C-section can feel daunting and might involve some trial and error but in time, it's possible to enjoy sex. These are our parting words, and tips to get there.
- Follow health recommendations
- Do your Kegel exercises
- Take it slow
- Use good quality lube
- Foreplay is key
- Open communication
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