LIFESTYLE

When Is It Safe To Have Sex After Having A Baby?

23/07/2014 11:38 BST | Updated 23/07/2014 11:59 BST

To add to the list of worries for new parents, many couples also fret about when they should start having sex again.

But the findings of a recent survey from British Pregnancy Advisory Service (Bpas) should put minds at ease.

Because, like with the rest of parenting, there are no hard and fast rules.

couple baby

One in eight couples (13%) wait at least half a year before having sex, while almost a quarter (23%) said they resumed having sex within six weeks after giving birth.

Bpas said that the main barriers which stopped women from resuming their sex habits were pain and exhaustion. But it also said that body image anxieties were also "widespread".

Its poll of 1,350 mothers found that 45% said that they felt uncomfortable about their body after having a baby which put them off resuming sex.

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"There is no set time to start having sex again after having a baby - all that should matter for women is that it feels right for them and that they have access to the contraception best suited to their needs if they wish to avoid another pregnancy straight away," said Bpas's director of external affairs Clare Murphy.

"We regularly see women experiencing unplanned pregnancy in the year after giving birth, sometimes because of confusing information about breastfeeding and contraception.

"The sexual health needs of new mothers will be diverse and we need to find innovative ways to support them. This may mean ensuring more information is provided antenatally, enabling those women who want to leave hospital with contraception to do so - including with an advance supply of the morning-after-pill if she wishes.

"Contraception and sexual health clinics dedicated to the needs of women with young children would be welcome."

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The NHS offers the following guidelines to new mothers:

  • If penetration hurts, say so. It’s not pleasant to have sex if it causes pain. If you pretend everything's all right when it isn’t, you may start to see sex as a nuisance or unpleasant rather than a pleasure, which won’t help either of you. You can still give each other pleasure without penetration (for example by mutual masturbation).
  • Be careful the first few times you have sex. Explore with your own fingers first to reassure yourself that it won’t hurt. Use plenty of extra lubrication, such as lubricating jelly. Hormonal changes after childbirth may mean that you won't be as lubricated as usual.
  • Make time to relax together. There’s little point trying to make love when your minds are on other things and not on each other.
  • Take your time. If you still experience pain two months or so after the birth, talk to your GP or family planning clinic. You can get treatment for a painful episiotomy scar. Ask to see an obstetric physiotherapist.