Postpartum sex can already feel like nerve-wracking new territory, but sex after a C-section? That can be doubly terrifying. You may not have pushed a baby directly out of your vagina, but you did have major surgery, and that requires a little research to figure out the best sex positions for you and your partner while you heal.
When it comes to sex after a C-section, you'll want to protect your abdomen at all costs. Even with your doctor's green light (definitely don't try any sex until your doctor says it's OK), your core may be very tender, and your scar and the area surrounding it can be sore. So, any position with your partner placing all their weight on you or your own abdomen pressed into a bed probably isn't the best idea.
“As your body is healing from a major surgery, experiment and find positions that don’t cause any abdominal or vaginal discomfort,” board-certified OB-GYN Dr. Sherry Ross, M.D., tells Romper. “Your ‘go-to’ sex positions may have to be redefined during the postpartum healing process, which can often take six to nine months.” Luckily, there are a number of safe and comfortable sex positions to try after you’ve had a C-section once your doctor gives you the go-ahead.
When is it safe to have postpartum sex?
For the first six weeks following a C-section, your doctor will have you on pelvic rest, meaning nothing goes inside the vagina. “No tampons, no douching, no baths, swimming pools, and no sex,” Ross tells Romper. “Usually at the six-week postpartum visit with your health care provider, you will be examined, birth control options are discussed, and then you will be given the green light to have sex again,” she explains. But Ross also notes that many people who just gave birth aren’t exactly holding their breath to have sex again — and it’s totally OK if you need more time. “Just because you are given the green light doesn’t mean you have to put your foot on the gas until you are ready to do so,” she says.
Unfortunately, painful intercourse is common when you’ve just started having sex again. “Between the healing C-section scar in the lower abdominal, the oversized and sore breasts that come with breastfeeding, the physical body transformation, and the emotional roller-coaster associated with the postpartum period, your comfort is a priority,” says Ross. All of that, on top of your hormones being out of whack, can contribute to a pretty low sex drive. So, even when it’s “medically safe” to have sex, your body and mind might be telling you it’s not time yet.
“My best advice is always slowly ease back into your usual routine — [it] may take up to nine months to fully heal after pregnancy, delivery, and breastfeeding,” Ross says. “Physically, you may be healed to start to feel sexual and get back on the saddle, but mentally you may not be.”
When you do ease back into sex with your partner, it’s also common to have side effects like vaginal irritation, burning, itching, painful urination, or dryness — which happens if you’re breastfeeding because “your vagina has less estrogen around to help naturally lubricate,” Ross explains, adding, “For some women, there isn’t a best position if the vagina is not well-lubricated, so find a lube that you and your partner enjoy.”
Once you’re at least past the six-week mark and feel ready to get back to business, you can start thinking about things in the bedroom, like which sex positions to avoid after your C-section and which might be more enjoyable. “Whatever position is comfortable for you is the one you should focus on,” Ross tells Romper. Most importantly, communicate openly and honestly with your partner so they understand exactly what you are going through as your body heals.
Sex positions to avoid after a C-section
The most important thing to remember is waiting until you’re fully recovered from your abdominal surgery before attempting to have sex. “This recovery period is essential to proper healing and avoidance of complications,” board-certified OB-GYN Dr. Barbara McLaren, M.D., tells Romper. “After you have fully recovered, reintroducing sex may take some creativity as well as patience. That first time may not be what you remembered,” she says, recommending working up to positions with deeper penetration like doggy style, or any position where the legs are flexed maximally.
“I recommend starting with positions where the woman can control the depth of penetration, such as woman on top,” McLaren tells Romper. “If you feel pain or discomfort, you can adjust to your comfort or even stop … There is nothing wrong with stopping.” McLaren advises being mindful of your incision as well. “Too much pressure with missionary style may also be uncomfortable for you. Communicate with your partner if anything feels ‘off,’” she says. “Go slow in the beginning. If it is just too uncomfortable, other alternatives include oral sex, manual sex, and clitoral stimulation,” she says. Or, just stop — it’s totally OK.
Another contributing factor to discomfort upon returning to sex is whether you’re breastfeeding. “For breastfeeding moms, the vagina may thin out, become dry and maybe even irritated,” McLaren says, recommending a water-based lube. And while you should not be having sex until your stitches heal, according to McLaren, if you do and feel one pop during intercourse, report it to your doctor immediately. Returning to sex after a C-section will be a case-by-case basis, but in general, the following positions are best avoided or eased into while you get back into the swing of things.
- Doggy style: Positions that involve deeper penetration can be uncomfortable and should be avoided.
- Traditional missionary: Having your partner on top of you will put extra pressure on your C-section scars.
- Standing up: This position can also put a lot of pressure on your torso and is best skipped.
- Standing penetrating partner: There’s less friction on your scar if you’re laying on the edge of the bed while your partner penetrates you standing up, but there will be a lot of deep penetration, which is not recommended.
Safe sex positions after a C-section
Everyone is different, so finding the best sex positions for after a C-section will be up to you to try and discover what works for you. Go slow, have fun, and try these gentle and safe options as you recover after bringing new life into the world.
Dr. Barbara McLaren, board-certified OB-GYN and co-founder of Kushae feminine wellness products
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