Overview If you've had a cesarean delivery and are recovering, resuming any activity in the bedroom is probably the last thing on your mind. While some people may think that having a cesarean delivery means you will have less problem resuming sexual activity simple because there isn't as much trauma to the vaginal area, that isn't always the case.
It's still common for women who have had cesarean deliveries to experience sexual struggles, especially in the early postpartum period. Studies have shown that both women with vaginal and C-section births report sexual challenges in the first three months after giving birth. When can I have sex?
Although you may experience slightly less bleeding with a cesarean section, it will still take about six weeks for your cervix to close completely. Some women may feel ready to resume intercourse sooner than others, but you should only have sex again once given the ok by your obstetrician and when you feel comfortable.
Here's what to expect from your cesarean delivery recovery and sex postpartum. As a nurse, I noticed that a lot of cesarean delivery patients didn't have as much initial vaginal bleeding as those who delivered vaginally. But you can still expect to bleed for four to six weeks. A woman's uterus takes about six weeks to return to normal size and for her cervix to close back up. The physical timeline for a woman's body to heal "down there" is pretty much the same, no matter how she gives birth.
The cervix needs to be closed in order for sexual relations to resume safely. While some women may be ready to resume sexual activity sooner, most cesarean delivery patients can have sex after they have been cleared by their doctor at their six week postpartum checkup.
Getting comfortable The physical recovery from birth is similar for both vaginal and cesarean deliveries. Staples from the incision site will be removed within a week of surgery. The actual incision site itself should be healed by six weeks postpartum. Some women experience numbness or tingling for months after surgery. The area around your incision site might be uncomfortable, so it will be helpful to try sexual positions that don't put any pressure on your abdomen.
The first time you have sex, you may be fearful of what it will feel like. Because sex is not just physical, it's also mental, any hesitation or fear you have about having sex again is very real and may have an affect on your sexual experience.
Be sure to talk to your partner, take your time, engage in some non-sexual foreplay, like massage, to help you relax, and use lubrication to get started.
Some women experience sexual dysfunction after a cesarean delivery, so if you find sex is abnormally painful, be sure to speak to your doctor. How to perform Kegels You might think you can skip the infamous Kegel exercises if you had a cesarean delivery. Kegels aren't just for your vagina. This is affected by pregnancy, no matter how you deliver. You can also start doing Kegels during pregnancy, before you deliver. To perform a Kegel: Squeeze your pelvic floor as if you were stopping urine midstream.
Hold those muscles for a few seconds. The more, the merrier. Birth control after birth Take it from this obstetrics nurse: Don't wait until you've resumed sexual activity to start your preferred birth control method. There are a lot of options for long-acting birth control. Many of these options are safe for breast-feeding mothers. Talk to your doctor about what method is best for you. When to see your doctor Speak to your doctor if you have any increased pain, discharge, or bleeding after a cesarean delivery.
I always tell my patients that as time goes on, they should start to feel better, not worse. If anything starts hurting more, it's a sign that something might be wrong. All of these could lead to a lowered amount of natural vaginal secretions. Try lots of foreplay, use lubrication, and take your time.
You should also keep an eye on your incision site as you recover. See your doctor if the incision opens, is painful, or becomes reddened or swollen. These may be signs of an infection. The takeaway When it comes to enjoying sex after a cesarean delivery, remember to take your time and pay attention to your body. There's no rush to get back to "normal. Every woman and every couple is different, so communicate openly with each other. If you encounter any problems along the way, don't be afraid to talk to your doctor about resuming sexual activities.
Trust me, they've seen it all. If you're struggling with your cesarean delivery scar, browse some of the empowering stories at the 4th Trimester Bodies Project. All mothers and bodies are beautiful. Remember, yours has just done something amazing.