Although it may be the last thing on your exhausted new-mom mind, at the 6-week postpartum checkup, you’ll probably get the all-clear to resume sexual activity again. Four to six weeks is the general rule, but you should definitely wait until all your bleeding has stopped. Your body needs time to heal after birth, and intercourse before the bleeding has subsided can put you at risk for infection. Until you get the ok to resume intimacy after childbirth, why not seek out other ways to be intimate with your partner? Massage, cuddling – go back to basics!

Physical readiness is one thing – but emotional readiness is quite another. Besides being chronically sleep-deprived or stressed out, you may be self-conscious about your post-baby body; if you’re breastfeeding, you may have vaginal dryness; and if you tore at all, you might be very nervous about anything even coming near that area! Your partner’s libido might be adversely affected, as well, by exhaustion or stress, and they might be afraid of hurting you.

Anxiety about intimacy after childbirth is common; it’s just not something we put on Facebook for everyone to read! Here are some tips to help you get back in the sack when you’re ready.

Ease Discomfort
Postpartum hormones are all over the place, and this can cause vaginal dryness – especially if you’re breastfeeding. Go slow, take your time, and build up to penetration. Use a lubricant, and experiment with different positions that are gentler on your body if you’ve had any tearing. If your breasts are sore, leaky, or heavy, it’s okay to wear a good supportive bra, or tell your partner to refrain from touching or kissing them. You can also try to nurse or pump before having sex.

New Sensations
It’s natural to wonder if sex will feel different after childbirth – you’ve just pushed a human out. Especially in the beginning, it might feel different. The vaginal muscles are still recuperating after birth, and there is decreased muscle tone, having an adverse effect on arousal. Don’t worry – this usually goes away. Do your Kegels to help tone your pelvic muscles  – this also helps improve blood flow to that area, as well.

Make Time
It’s hard to find the time to take a shower when a new baby arrives, let alone have time for sex. You can schedule it – see if you can drop the baby off for a couple of hours at a family member’s house, or make efficient use of naptime or bedtime.

Go Slow
Your body has done so much in the past 10+ months, and your world has just been turned upside down – it’s completely okay to either not be interested in sex, or be apprehensive about it. If intercourse seems like too much, why not concentrate on “foreplay,” oral sex, massage, or a foot rub? Or just cuddle with your partner and be mindful of being with them, against their body. Talk with them about how you’re feeling about your body and sex. Communication between partners is important, especially now. During intimacy, let them know what feels good and what doesn’t, and if it’s okay to continue, or if you want to stop.

When did you resume sexual intimacy after childbirth, and what sort of things made it easier for you?