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It’s like being a virgin again. Almost. You’re raring to go but a bit anxious at the same time. Will it hurt? Can you do it without waking anyone else up? Do you really need to worry about birth control?
The first time you and your partner have post-baby sex, you may wonder how anyone ever creates a second child. But not only is it possible to have a satisfying sex life after having a baby, it might become better. You just have to be patient.
Even though you’ll probably get your doctor’s go-ahead six weeks or so after a vaginal birth, that doesn’t guarantee you’ll be ready, willing and able. “It takes at least three to six months for your genitals to get back to normal,” says Laura Berman, Ph.D., director of the Female Sexual Medicine Center at UCLA and co-author of For Women Only (Henry Holt & Co., 2001).
Jump-starting your sex life can test a couple’s mettle. Here are imaginative ways to deal with common fears and obstacles.
Problem There’s rarely a time when you’re both awake and the baby’s asleep.
Solution You know all those friends and relatives who say, “We’d love to watch the baby for you”? Well, the next time they offer, pull out your calendar and book them for a Saturday night of baby-sitting. But instead of heading to the movies, head to the bedroom. Also consider a little early-morning nooky before the baby wakes up. As Berman says, “You may find it’s easier then than late at night, after you’ve been caring for the baby all day.”
Problem You’re worried it’ll hurt.
Solution Even after a perineal tear or episiotomy has healed (usually four to six weeks after a vaginal birth), you can still feel tight. You or your partner can gently stretch the area using fingers that have been well lubricated with K-Y Jelly or Astroglide (available at drugstores). And instead of jumping back into doing the deed, think creatively. “We started out with oral sex, and after a few times, I felt comfortable enough for intercourse,” says one new mom.
Note: If you are still experiencing vaginal pain and tightness after three to six months, Berman suggests that you see your doctor.
Problem You’re as dry as a desert.
Solution Because your estrogen levels drop after giving birth, vaginal dryness is a common problem, especially if you’re breastfeeding. “Use lots of lubrication,” recommends Rachel J. Masch, M.D., an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at New York University Medical School. You can also ask your doctor about prescribing a topical estrogen cream, which can plump up vaginal tissues without affecting your ability to breastfeed.