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Intimacy after Childbirth
For some new moms, an active sex life may seem miles away. With the demands of caring for a new child, a succession of sleepless nights, and a body that may have endured a challenging birth, interest in sexual relations may wane for a while. While sex may not seem like an immediate priority to every couple, it is quite healthy to resume sexual relations within weeks after a birth. I find that it's helpful to know what to expect when you do begin to express sexual feelings again.

For new moms, it is normal to feel intense fulfillment and closeness from your attachment to your baby. Sexual closeness with your partner may seem less important for a while. New dads may perceive their partners as a source of infant nutrition rather than as a sexual goddess. Watching the delivery may have affected feelings about intimacy, especially if the delivery was difficult. It's great to be able to talk about new feelings that each of you may have.

Your body goes through a number of physical changes in the weeks after birth. If you had a vaginal delivery, it may take four to six weeks for an episiotomy or vaginal tear to fully heal. A cesarean scar may make pressure on the abdomen uncomfortable for a similar amount of time. The hormone shifts that occur following delivery include a drop in estrogen that can last for months. With lower estrogen levels, your vaginal walls become thin and dry. Despite the fact you may have delivered an 8-pound baby, the vaginal opening may seem very small and sensitive for a while. Allow enough time for foreplay to encourage natural secretions to develop, or try a vaginal lubricant. If the vagina remains quite dry and tender, your practitioner may recommend a vaginal estrogen cream to help reduce sensitivity. Your practitioner should also check to see that your vagina appears healthy after the delivery.

Weeks of sleep interruption may leave you feeling too tired to have sexual relations. Give yourself permission to go slowly with each other. It's best not to have any fixed expectations of what sex should be like. Cuddling and fondling may be quite satisfying initially. What's most important is that you and your partner communicate openly with each other and try to be as supportive as possible.

Eventually, your hormone levels will increase and your body may make more lubrication and feel more comfortable. Around this time, sexual interest may increase. If your baby is sleeping more consistently, you may have a little more energy for sexual relations again. Finding some uninterrupted time and a little privacy is another story….
Laura E. Stachel M.D. Obstetrician & Gynecologist