The first few weeks are the most confusing. Joan recalls, ‘I went along to my six-week check after my first baby was born. The doctor asked me if we had started having intercourse yet. I didn’t know if I was supposed to say yes or no, so I said “no” to be on the safe side, even though we had actually done it the week before. It was pretty tentative anyway, because my husband was worried that if it was too early he would do some damage.’
Many people say they worry when to start up their sex life after a baby but of course there’s no right or wrong time. Gynecologists say that, from a physical point of view, it’s best to wait until the cervix and vagina have healed (this can vary from two weeks to two months depending on the type of delivery, so it’s worth asking about your individual case) and you have sorted out your contraception. It is highly unlikely that you would fall pregnant in the first six weeks after childbirth anyway, especially if you are fully breastfeeding.
In the early days, stitches can be a problem. Sometimes it just hurts too much around the vagina, especially if it has been torn or cut during the delivery. This can make intercourse very painful at first, and can go on for some months.
In Western society, new parents often don’t have a ready-made support network of others in similar situations. Without anyone to talk to about these things, it’s easy to think you’re the only one in the world who’s going through it and you miss out on simple advice like taking more time so that you’re both relaxed, trying different positions (some will hurt less, than others), and using a lubricant if vaginal dryness is a problem.