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Sex after giving birth: when to get back to business

3 min read
Cycle Care

Approved by

Eveline Stallaart - Sexologist
Okay we admit it’s not really at the top of your priority list after giving birth, but let’s talk about having sex after pregnancy for a minute (or three).

Nine month long pregnancy, giving birth, loss of blood, sensitive breasts, insomnia and hormones that have forgotten up from down and inside from out… not the best cocktail if you want to get back into business any time soon.

So, when to get back to (sexy) business? That’s different for everyone. Depending on the situation of giving birth, how tired you are, your mental and physical state, a fussy or outright impossible baby might make it harder for some couples to get back into the groove of things.


Doctors advise to abstain from sex for at least the first four to six weeks after giving birth. The cervix needs time to close back up, which takes at least three weeks, and there is a chance of infection. You’re probably not waiting for an infection down under on top of all the new and tiring responsibilities concerning parenthood. 

Can’t wait any longer? You and your partner might have to look for some alternatives to actual sexual intercouse. At least wait until the postpartum bleeding stops.

No way!

Some people who’ve given birth might swear not to let anything or anyone near their vagina again. Giving birth has a pretty big impact on your body. And even though giving birth is an amazing and impressive feat, that doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to feel a little insecure about the way your down under looks now. Some people push that baby out quicker than it takes to say supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, but for a good few it takes a little more than that. When the baby is in danger the doctor has to move quickly. Sometimes the baby needs a little assistance in getting out of the birth canal. Doctors use a vacuum device for this. Imagine a soft cup that attaches to the baby’s head with suction. Obviously the health of the baby comes first, but it could feel quite uncomfortable for the mother.

Sometimes the vagina needs a little extra snip to make it easier for the baby to come out. This procedure is only done when there are no other options available anymore. How deep the snip is differs, but it usually takes only a few stitches to close up again. In extremely rare cases the snip goes wrong, or it becomes infected, which leads to much longer lasting discomfort.


Whether you’re still dealing with the physical aftermath of giving birth or not, having sex for the first time after such a life-changing ordeal will probably need some mental adjusting too. If you’ve recently given birth you might be worried that it will hurt down there, or you’re insecure about your body looking different. All very valid worries by the way, it can take months for your body to return to the way it was before (at least somewhat), which is a new and sometimes a little scary experience.

And it’s not just different for the one who’s given birth, it can be quite challenging for the partner as well. Yes of course, pregnancy and giving birth are a beautiful gift, but after giving birth the vagina might be involuntarily associated with the birth of their child. During and after giving birth you lose blood, and during the pushing oftentimes poop comes out as well. This is normal and the doctor handles this discreetly by having the partner sit near your head instead, but the image may have a strong impact regardless. Not to forget about the breasts that are now meant for other purposes besides pleasure, namely, to feed the baby. 

Tips ‘n tricks

Don’t worry that sex will never be the same, you just need to give it some time. You’re probably both tired, irritable, tense and a little insecure. Here are some tips for your first time having sex (again):

  • Create time and space to truly relax. The less tense you are, the better. Although, this might be quite difficult with a baby in the house that might start screaming just when you were planning on getting down and dirty together. 

  • Don’t jump to penetration the first time, slow and steady wins the race after all. There are many ways to enjoy sex, so make sure to communicate and don’t expect too much from each other the first few times around. 

  • It’s similarly important to spend enough time on foreplay. Especially if you’re breastfeeding the vagina might feel dry and it may be harder to feel aroused than before. In this case it’s recommended to use plenty of lube. And again, there are more ways to enjoy sex than just through penetration.

  • Male partners might be scared to hurt their partner after they have given birth. Make sure to assure your partner and take things step by step. If it’s still hard in a few months, it could also be a good idea to visit your GP or a sexologist (there’s no shame in that!).

  • Pain = Stop, even if you really want to make it happen. Don’t try to tolerate it for your partner. Lots of people tend to do this without their partner’s knowledge. Pain is your body’s way of telling you something’s up. Listen to your body! 

Periods and fertility

You’ll probably bleed for a while after giving birth and this could last up to 6 weeks. It might take some time for your menstruation cycle to get back on track as well. The first menstruation usually happens between about six to eight weeks after giving birth. This includes people who’ve given birth with a C-section, because the hormones still work the same. The first period might feel worse than you’re used to, be it that you may bleed more or may experience more/heavier symptoms. Are the symptoms worrisome? Contact your GP. Don’t use tampons for the first six to eight weeks, it’s fine to use tampons after that.

Rumour says that people who are breastfeeding can’t get pregnant. That’s very much not true! You might not get your period because you’re breastfeeding but you’re just as fertile as people who don’t breastfeed. Discuss contraception options with your partner and/or GP, before you’re in for another birth in 9 months. Remember, you can always rubber up with our vegan Yes Condoms


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Cycle is a community where all aspects of the female body are discussed freely. From menstruation to menopause: we'll help you understand your body, mind, cycle and sexuality better, with the help of our Cycle Experts.