Many couples worry that their sex life will change with the arrival of the baby. New concerns with the baby, limited time and fatigue all contribute to a decreased libido and this can strain the relationship. Do take time out to spend time just with each other.

Women can also be very concerned about their post-pregnancy bodies. It is important to be realistic and give your body time to recover with a sensible diet and exercise regime. If you are breastfeeding, decreased oestrogen levels will cause a temporary decline in libido and possibly vaginal dryness and painful intercourse. Some options include using lubricating gels, e.g. KY jelly, Replens or Durex Play lubricant.

Love life after giving birth

Trying to meet the new demands of caring for your newborn as well as spending time to become an intimate couple can be difficult. It is important that you focus on your own as well as your partner’s needs.

Good and strong relationships are based on trust and understanding. Being open and honest with each other is crucial. If you’re too caught up with your new duties as a mother and feel the intense pressure, do confide in your partner. If you’re worried that sexual intercourse will hurt, talk to your partner about what feels good and what hurts. Keep communication open and he will definitely understand.

“Making sacrifices is part of parenthood. But that does not mean that you have to give up your love life,” says Associate Professor Tan Thiam Chye​, Head and Senior Consultant, Inpatient Service, Department of General Obstetrics & Gynaecology, KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH), a member of the SingHealth group.

Resuming your love life after delivery

Most women are able to resume sex after six weeks as it usually takes four to six weeks for your body to recover from delivery. However, there is no fixed time frame regarding when you will actually start feeling in the mood again. It varies from one woman to another.

If you find that you’re not in the mood for sexual intercourse yet, try to explore other ways of intimacy, for example, snuggling, kissing or caressing.

Getting into the right mood

  • Take time to do things that make you feel good about your body. It could be a long soak in the tub, getting your hair done or going for a leisurely walk outdoors. Feeling relaxed and good about yourself will make a huge difference.
  • Find time to be alone with your partner. (Getting a trusted friend or family member to baby-sit so that you don’t have to spend the entire time worrying can really help things progress!)
  • If you are nervous about making love, try easing into it slowly. Date each other for romantic outings. Start with just kissing, then gradually progress to touching and so on until you are ready for sex.

Sex can be good for you

It is easy for new parents to adopt the attitude that sex is a luxury for those with lots of free time and energy on their hands – like all your childless friends. But the fact is, having sex can be good for you!

  • Sex helps to de-stress
    Sex is one of the most effective forms of stress relief there is – plus it’s 100 per cent natural.
  • Sex is a great exercise
    Making love three times a week burns around 7,500 calories in a year – that’s the equivalent of jogging 75 miles.
  • Production of natural hormones
    Regular lovemaking can increase a woman’s oestrogen level, which is important to keep her bones strong and improve the suppleness of her vaginal tissues.
  • Increased oxygenation
    All that heavy breathing increases the amount of oxygen in the cells, helping to keep organs and tissues functioning properly.
  • Pain relief
    Sex reduces arthritic pain, whiplash pain and headache pain. “What’s more, the hormones that are released during sexual arousal and orgasm can actually elevate your pain threshold,” says A/Prof Tan.
  • Bonding
    Affectionate touching increases your level of oxytocin – also known as the “bonding” hormone.

10 tips to get you back into action

  1. Environment
    A romantic atmosphere can set the right mood for intimacy.
  2. Relax
    Find ways to relax before trying to make love (for example, taking a shower together or exchanging massages).
  3. Lubricate
    Lowered hormone levels after pregnancy can make the vagina tissue dry and uncomfortable. “To avoid painful intercourse, use lubricating gel until your natural secretions return,” says A/Prof Tan.
  4. Warm up
    Don’t rush into sex. The more foreplay you can fit in, the better.
  5. Minimise distractions
    Turn off both your cellphones. This is your private time, so enjoy it.
  6. Experiment
    Some positions give the woman more control over penetration and put less pressure on an episiotomy site or caesarean scar (e.g. side-to-side or woman-on-top positions).
  7. Be realistic
    Some women may not experience orgasms at all for several weeks after childbirth, or orgasms may be a little delayed in coming.
  8. Communicate
    Let your partner know what feels good and what doesn’t.
  9. Make time to make love
    While life has become more hectic with a newborn in the house, don’t let lovemaking disappear from your lives. Take time to be intimate with your partner.
  10. Don’t worry
    You may feel like you’ll never be passionate about sex again. This is not true as it is only a temporary state of mind.

"The New Art and Science of Pregnancy and Childbirth", a pregnancy book written by A/Prof Tan Thiam Chye, Dr. Tan Kim Teng, Dr. Tan Heng Hao, A/Prof John Tee Chee Seng. KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH), a member of the SingHealth group.

* Available at all major book stores and Pharmacy in KKH.​

Ref: S13