You have a new bundle of joy and your world is turned on its head. You’re not sleeping, you’re trying to decode your baby’s cries, and you really can’t even remember if you ate lunch or showered today. But eventually you’ll adjust, and the things that were so normal in your pre-baby life—like sex—will resurface.
Often, the six-week mark is talked about as a milestone. That’s when you go for a follow-up visit to your gynae, they examine you, and if all is well, they give you the go-ahead to resume sex and exercise. It’s likely your partner has been on the countdown for this day—even if you haven’t been.
“This is a very sensitive area that went through trauma—even though it was good trauma. Waiting helps prevent further damage to that area. Plus, it’s a very complex time for mom; we want to make sure that she’s taking care of herself mentally and physically,” says Dr. Jessica Shepherd, women’s health expert and gynae. For Cesarean-section mamas, she points out a reality check: You just had major surgery. “You need time for recovery before we talk about sexual activity,” she says.
Let’s say you’ve got the go ahead. Know that you don’t have to jump in bed right away. When you’re ready, here are five things you can expect. Knowing that they’re normal—you’re not alone!—can help you make a triumphant return to sexy town soon:
1. It May Hurt A Little
Your body just went through a lot to deliver a baby, whether that was vaginally or through a C-section. Depending on any complications with birth, or if you needed a longer recovery than normal, sex may feel mildly uncomfortable to a little painful. (If you had a C-section, your scar may contribute to abdominal discomfort.) “It should never be so painful where you have to stop or are experiencing no pleasure at all. That’s not worth it,” says Shepherd. If that’s the case, talk to your doctor.
2. Your Discharge Can Be Funky
After you have a baby, you’ll likely need to wear industrial-sized pads because, yes, you bleed that much. Later on though, bleeding lets up and goes away. Still, continued shedding of the endometrial layer can change the color of vaginal discharge to a mild brown tint, says Shepherd. Post-sex spotting can also be normal, too. What’s not is if the bleeding becomes continuous again or bright red. Also, be on the lookout for foul-smelling or cottage cheese-like discharge, as these can be signs of bacterial vaginosis or a yeast infection.
3. Yep, Things May Feel Different… For A While
Among the reasons you may be nervous to get busy following baby is the worry that your vagina will be, well, stretched out, and sex won’t feel as pleasurable. “The elasticity of the vagina is impressive. It will return to its normal shape and characteristics, but that can take time,” says Shepherd. How quickly things return to normal depends on many factors, including the state of your pelvic-floor muscles before delivery. You can relax in knowing that the same sensations you enjoyed before pregnancy will usually return within three to six months, she says.
4. You May Not Feel Like Yourself
Who’s that sexual minx? Wait, you don’t feel that way anymore? Totally normal. Having a baby is a huge transition, physically as well as emotionally. You may feel disconnected from your partner, which can make it difficult to get in the mood (not to mention the lack of sleep). Shepherd recommends talking to your partner and being really open about what you’re going through. You may also be experiencing postpartum depression, which should be discussed with your doctor so you can get the help you need. If it’s truly a connection thing, you may want to try a sex-therapy session, says Shepard.
READ MORE: Is Sex During Pregnancy Ok?
5. Things Will Return To Normal
Can we drive home any more what a change having a baby is? And that goes for whether it’s your first or you’re adding more to your brood. The good news is that your sex life with your partner will probably be back to normal within a year, regardless of if you had a C-section, a vaginal delivery, or even experienced tearing down there, reports a 2015 Australian study. Your sexual function, desire, arousal, and orgasm will all improve. It’s all looking up from here.
This article was originally published on www.womenshealthmag.com