The weeks after a baby’s birth are inevitably filled with questions about…well, the baby. But after a C-section, you may also have questions about your body. Some of those questions may be about intercourse.
Most doctors will recommend not resuming vaginal intercourse until 6 weeks after a C-section, leaving time for any internal bleeding and for the incision to fully heal, and for a postnatal checkup with your healthcare provider. This doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll feel ready to have intercourse again at this 6-week point, though. Neither does it mean your sex drive won’t be active sooner—your body is working on its own recovery timeline.
Before the 6-weeks mark
One of the biggest concerns about resuming penetrative intercourse after delivery is the associated discomfort, which is something that you’ll be able to judge better than your healthcare provider, or anyone else. The other common concern before 6 weeks, though, is the risk of infection as your body is recovering from what truly is major abdominal surgery.
If your sex drive starts making itself known before your doctor recommends resuming intercourse, you can check in with your provider about whether you’re good to go for oral sex and other forms of external stimulation. Chances are, he or she will tell you that as long as you keep it to the outside of your vagina or your clitoris, you’ll be fine.
Once your doctor says you’re good to go
You still might not be in the mood, which is totally normal. It could take months for your hormones to return to where they were before your pregnancy, and they won’t be the same as they were while you were pregnant, either. They could take even longer to return to normal if you’re breastfeeding since the hormonal changes that happen during breastfeeding can affect your sex drive.
When you do start having intercourse again, your breasts may leak milk. If you and your partner are fine with this, that’s great, as it’s a perfectly natural hormonal response. If you and your partner aren’t comfortable, you can wear breast pads or try having sex immediately after feeding Baby. This might be a good idea in any case, because after he has eaten, he may be less likely to interrupt you.
Even if you feel totally ready to have sex again, your vagina might be drier than you’re used to, even when you’re turned on. That’s another natural hormonal response to recent pregnancy, and is something you can manage by using a personal lubricant.
What about birth control?
Most forms of birth control are perfectly safe and healthy after pregnancy. However, if you’re breastfeeding, hormonal birth controls that use estrogen and progestin may decrease your milk supply. On the other hand, hormonal birth control that uses only progestin shouldn’t cause you any problems. Your healthcare provider will be able to discuss which form of birth control might be right for you, which could include progestin-only hormonal birth control, either as the pill or through implants, or non-hormonal birth control like condoms or copper IUDs.
If you think you might be ready to start thinking about a sibling for Baby, or even if you’re not, but think you might at some point, now is a great time to start tracking your cycle with Ovia Fertility!
Above all, it’s important to listen to your body. You’ll be able to feel when you’re ready – and if you don’t feel ready, there’s no need to rush.
- Larissa Hirsch. “Recovering From Delivery.” KidsHealth. The Nemours Foundation. June 2015. Web.
- Mayo Clinic Staff. “Sex after pregnancy.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic, July 2 2015. Web.