Being intimate after birth

It can feel daunting being intimate with your partner again after having a baby, and you should wait until you both feel ready – physically and emotionally.

For some couples, this can take some time.  Your birth experience, any injuries or trauma, your hormone levels, emotions, and sleep deprivation can all impact your ability or desire to have sex. There is no ‘normal’ timeframe to resume a sexual relationship after birth.

If you do want to have sex, it’s best to wait at least 6 weeks to allow yourself time to heal, whether you’ve had a vaginal birth or a caesarean.

The risk of infection is higher in the weeks following the birth, as your cervix may not be fully closed, and your uterus will still be healing where the placenta has detached. Ask your midwife for advice on this based on your own circumstances.

Your vaginal area can feel sore and painful after having a vaginal delivery. You may have had stitches after the birth. You will need to keep the area clean to prevent infection, so it’s best to avoid sex until any wounds have healed fully. This will usually be about 6 to 12 weeks after the birth.

Once your wounds have healed, the scar can feel uncomfortable or more sensitive than before. You may find perineal scar massage helpful – you can read about it on our massage after stitches page.

You may need to use extra lubrication to make things more comfortable, especially if you are breastfeeding as this affects your hormone levels and can make the vagina drier than normal.

You may feel some discomfort having sex for the first few times, but this should improve with time. Please discuss your symptoms with your healthcare professional if this persists.

If you do have sex, it’s extremely important to use contraception – you can become pregnant again within a few weeks of giving birth and can be fertile before your first period arrives. Some people think that breastfeeding prevents ovulation, but this is not always the case.

It’s a good idea to think about what sort of contraception you’d like to use – talk to your GP about your options, as not all contraceptives can be used while breastfeeding. Until you’ve arranged contraception, make sure you use condoms to prevent an unplanned pregnancy.