safe motherhood


Postnatal sex

Tiredness, your baby's demands, dissatisfaction with your changed body and the effect of breastfeeding on libido can all cause problems with sex after giving birth.

Other resentments might include, for fathers:

• Feeling that their partner is now only there for the baby and her breasts are off limits; and for mums
• Feeling that everyone is claiming rights to her body and she can't get a minute's peace!


• There's no magic time to resume sex.
• Sex isn't compulsory, nor is penetration! This is the time to experiment with alternatives.
• If sex is painful after stitches or bruising have healed, speak to your doctor or health visitor.
• If necessary, counselling can help - ask your doctor for details.

NCT postnatal sex survey

Five years ago, the National Childbirth Trust found great variations in the time when couples resumed sex, with 20% starting when the baby was a month old, 45% between one and three months, 18% between three and four months, and 13% between five to seven months.

If you're worried that your body won't be the same, remember that:

• The vagina is flexible, elastic tissue;
• The female body was designed for childbirth;
• The body's powers of recovery are remarkable.

Many women feel a new confidence in their femininity after having a baby:

"I feel a new respect for my body that is nothing to do with the way it looks. I'm a much stronger woman now - and that's reflected in all areas of my life." Michelle, first-time mother at 38.

Breastfeeding mums can find vaginal dryness a problem. Using KY jelly can Help. Your doctor can also prescribe oestrogen-type creams or you can try using a Femidom to protect the sore vaginal area. Closeness is what counts. Just lying in bed talking and sharing your deepest feelings can be a very consoling form of intimacy. It will keep you connected until you feel ready for something more physical. You may also enjoy a massage.

"A couple of weeks ago, I really longed to go out and buy some sexy underwear and be a lover again, but I just don't 'feel sexy' yet – although we've made love a few times since Jo was born." Tanya, mother of a six-month-old son.

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