There's a lot to say when it comes to postpartum sex. On the one hand, it's probably been months since you've been able to have non-awkward, non-pregnant sex (those bumps are cute but they get in the way) and you're excited to get your groove back. On the other hand, no matter how you gave birth, your body has been through an ordeal and it's highly unlikely you're going to want to jump right back in the saddle as though nothing's changed. However, when you do decide your time has come, what does postpartum sex actually feel like? Turns out, it varies.
I don't mean to scare you guys, but I also don't want to lie. In general, from my experience and discussions (admittedly, largely with women in heterosexual relationships), one should proceed with the knowledge that depending on how you gave birth, what injuries you sustained, whether or not you're breastfeeding (which can cause vaginal dryness, particularly as your body is getting used to nursing); postpartum sex can be uncomfortable or even painful. It might take some dedicated and proactive communication with your partner and your doctor to set things right. The good news is, generally, it does get better and often goes pretty much back to normal. More good news? For lots of people, it never gets all that bad in the first place. If you have a newborn you're probably not having a ton of sex in the most problematic stages of vaginal healing anyway, so more often than not being preoccupied will help you ease into postpartum sex gradually.
Nothing about postpartum sex is a given or a requirement. Every couple needs to see what works for them and discuss how to resume and adjust their sex life. Having said that, I feel that a good way to figure out what might work for you (and what to expect) is to talk to other people who have been there. I chatted with other moms who let me know what to expect when you're expected to start boning again, and here's what they had to say:
"Like your partner is wearing a sandpaper condom. It got better after my first [delivery] within a month; with my second almost three months. The only advice I can give is lots of foreplay and lots of lube."
"Knives. For me, I had so much scarring after all three births that it never got better. I thought it was just the new norm and tried to deal with it, thinking it'd eventually get better. After my third child it was so bad I was literally terrified of having sex. It ruined our intimacy on so many levels. A different OB-GYN finally gave me an estrogen cream to help with the internal scarring and now — finally — years later, it only hurts a little until we really get going."
With each of my babies, it took less and less time to get back to normal [and] feeling good versus gritting my teeth and yoga breathing through it.
"A stitched up tear meant it didn't feel right for over two years. I also tore my inner labia, but I didn't notice until a couple of weeks after. Can you imagine not noticing that you tore something that sensitive? That's childbirth. I went in for a postpartum check up, and mentioned it to my midwife, and she said that we could try some sort of labiaplasty if it really bothered me, but it might be hard because it started to heal as it was. So now one of my inner labia looks and feels like a forked tongue."
"I won't lie: at first it felt like I was on fire down there. But each time we tried it (really slow with a mountain of lube) it got better until things were basically back to normal after we'd been at it for about a month."
Like trying to rub two rubber gloves together. The dryness is horrible!
"I made him wait 10.5 weeks [after birth] even though doctor cleared me at six. We did it super slow, centimeter by centimeter. Felt like razor blades. After a minute I told him to stop and made him wait another 2-3 weeks. It still hurt, but not as bad. I feel like it didn't get back to 'normal' for a few months after that."
"With my first, sandpaper and sharp needles is a good description. It took months to gradually get better. Just had my second and just started back and had to take it super slow. I think tearing makes it so painful, though I feel more healed this time vs last time."
Worse than popping the ol' cherry the first time. Buckle up and bring on the KY: it's going to be a rough ride.
"Weirdly pretty fine. It was all very nonchalant."
"For me, I think the worst part was actually the anticipation and fear that it was going to hurt and so I put it off probably longer than I needed to. In the end, it was mildly uncomfortable but going slow and with some lube, it wasn't all that bad. And it got easier each time, by around 3-4 months post with my first and 6-8 weeks after my second, it was mostly back to normal."
"I wait so long that it feels like regular sex."
[Writer's note: Well... there's one way to work it out!]
"Not pleasant. Like... at all. But the bigger hurdle I had to get over was my mental hang-ups about sex and my body after childbirth. With the help of a good therapist, things are better in that department!"
I'm my childbirth ed class our motto is 'Communicate, communicate communicate, lubricate lubricate libricate.'
"With both my kids, after they were born, I bled for an insanely long time. (months...a story for another topic.) But apparently the good part of that was that once I finally stopped bleeding and we finally attempted sex, it never hurt a bit! (And I had bad tears and stitches with both births.) So I guess that was a plus!"