All biological moms know that pregnancy is not easy! It’s nine long months of body changes, hormone swings, and discomfort. In the end, these brave women either go under the knife to meet their baby or spend hours (sometimes days!) in painful labor. So many seem to think that everything is smooth sailing after birth; your days are filled with snuggles and baby smells. On the contrary! The first few weeks postpartum can be a rough transition - physically and emotionally. It’s best to hold off on returning back to normal activities - including sex! Mothers cannot have intercourse for at least six weeks after giving birth, but many new moms are having sex too soon after giving birth.
Why Wait Six Weeks To Have Sex After Birth?
I was nearly an adult before I learned that birth doesn’t end once the baby comes out! Once the baby is born, the placenta is typically delivered within the hour. Some doctors use traction - pulling on the umbilical cord - to loosen and remove the placenta. Remember, the placenta attaches itself to the uterine wall at implantation. As the pregnancy progresses, the placenta grows to meet the baby’s needs. A typical full-term placenta is a nine-inch circle and weighs about a pound. When the placenta is delivered, it detaches from the uterine wall and causes bleeding.
This bleeding is normal so long as it doesn’t exceed about one pint of blood loss. Immediate postpartum care includes checking the severity of blood loss and making sure the patient is not hemorrhaging from this wound. That’s exactly what the placenta leaves behind: a wound! Not a small one, either. Inside the uterus, postpartum women have an open wound the size of a dinner plate!
RELATED: 10 Shocking Uses For The Placenta
What Happens If You Don’t Wait Six Weeks To Have Intercourse?
New moms are instructed to avoid exerting themselves for the first six weeks after giving birth. Doctors and midwives prescribe restrictions on things like running, exercise, lifting heavy weights, and yes - sex. Vaginal intercourse after pushing a baby out of your vagina sounds like an awful idea to me, but many women admit to having sex before that six-week mark!
Here’s why this early return to sexual activity is a bad idea. Because the uterus has an open wound, anything inserted into the vagina creates a risk for infection. Bacteria can travel up past the cervix easily to the wound, regardless of the method of delivery. Add to that vaginal soreness, potential perineal tears, and a lack of lubrication, and waiting for sex might not sound like such a bad idea after all!
How To Speak With Your Partner About Abstaining
If you have a romantic partner in your life, you may want to discuss waiting to resume sex with them while you’re still pregnant. Most partners are understanding; they can see or imagine the physical toll childbirth will have on the body. However, some are less receptive to this temporary abstinence. Presenting the issue as a medical concern first and foremost may help them understand its importance. It is, after all, a matter of health! If they still seem uncertain about waiting, a discussion with your care provider is a great next step. They may be able to answer questions your partner has and direct you to relationship resources that can help.