When you just have a baby, there are some things that are top of mind — like feeding the baby, making sure you’re sterilizing bottles so they’re ready, and getting in some much-needed rest for yourself (along with your infant, of course). Everyone’s body and postpartum healing process is different, but for some people, the absolute last thing on your mind might be sex.
Yes, per guidelines from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), you can have sex six weeks after birth, and it’s totally safe and healthy if you want to restore that intimate connection with a partner right away. But a new survey shows that people might not be getting back to postpartum sex until quite a bit later, so if that’s you, you’re not alone.
What’s the average wait time for postpartum sex?
According to findings from a recent survey by What to Expect, 46 percent of postpartum parents reported waiting more than six weeks for penetrative sex after their baby was born. The average wait time for postpartum sex in this group of parents polled was about 10 weeks — and there were an equal number of people who had vaginal deliveries compared to C-section deliveries.
11 percent of parents in the study waited to have sex even longer, until between three and six months after birth. Other parents, about 26 percent, returned to having sex even sooner than six weeks.
It can be different for everyone based on your comfort level and how your delivery went (for some people who had significant tearing during birth, penetration with sex can be more painful if you don’t have as much time to heal). 23 percent of survey respondents reported pain with sex, almost until the 20 week mark postpartum, which is completely normal. Pelvic pressure and pain and lower back pain were also common symptoms postpartum parents mentioned. You may end up trying to have sex with your partner at a certain point postpartum and then deciding to wait longer to continue — it’s all up to you.
What else is there to know about postpartum sex?
First and foremost, it can be possible to get pregnant right after birth, ACOG notes. (If you exclusively breastfeed for the first six months of your baby’s life, this may help prevent ovulation, but there is still a small chance of pregnancy.) ACOG recommends having a conversation with your partner about birth control methods if you don’t want to get pregnant again.
Aside from that, there are other ACOG-approved tips and tricks to make postpartum sex more comfortable: It may require some water-based lubricant and experimenting with different positions to make things go, well, more smoothly. That said, “sex” doesn’t have to mean vaginal penetration. You can try oral sex or other forms of sexual play solo or with a partner if you’re looking to get back into the groove with your postpartum body.
Before you go, check out our roundup of super steamy movie scenes.
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