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Having sex after childbirth

There are no rules about when to start having sex again after you've given birth. Immediately after the baby is born, many women feel sore as well as tired. There is no rush. The first time, you may want to use a lubricating jelly like, KY Jelly (available from pharmacies) because hormone changes can make your vagina feel drier than usual.

You may be worried about the state of your body or about getting pregnant again however men may have their own concerns. Both of you may be tired and your partner may worry about what’s right for you so it might be some time before you want to have sex. Until then, both of you may feel happier being loving and close in other ways.

If you or your partner have any worries, talk about them together. If you need some help, talk with your GP or health visitor.

The following suggestions may help:

  • If penetration hurts, say so. It’s not pleasant to have sex if it causes pain. If you pretend everything's all right when it isn’t, you may start to see sex as a nuisance or unpleasant rather than a pleasure, which won’t help either of you. You can still give each other pleasure without penetration (for example by mutual masturbation).
  • Be careful the first few times you have sex. Explore with your own fingers first to reassure yourself that it won’t hurt. Use plenty of extra lubrication, such as lubricating jelly. Hormonal changes after childbirth may mean that you won't be as lubricated as usual.
  • Make time to relax together. There’s little point trying to make love when your minds are on other things and not on each other.
  • Take your time. If you still experience pain two months or so after the birth, talk to your GP or family planning clinic. You can be assessed to work out what is causing the pain, including how you have healed after a tear or episiotomy.
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