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    After the Baby's Born

    Post-pregnancy can be an awkward time for a couple.

    What's Normal? continued...

    There are health reasons for not engaging in sex too soon. "The biggest risk of postpartum sex, particularly too soon, is infection," according to Robin Weiss, the pregnancy guide at Bleeding is normal for up to six weeks. First-time intercourse can increase bleeding, and it's not a reason for alarm. If bleeding persists beyond six weeks, though, it would be best to consult a health care professional.

    Intercourse after childbirth can be quite painful. If the woman has had an episiotomy or laceration, there may be discomfort for weeks or even months after the stitches have healed.

    Recoupling Tips

    Resume your sex life slowly, possibly with cuddling and petting, oral sex, or mutual masturbation, but not with penetration. Many couples wait until well after the recommended time to resume sex.

    Keep a lubricant handy, since the decrease in estrogen after childbirth can reduce vaginal lubrication.

    Experiment. Side-to-side or woman-on-top positions allow more control of penetration and put less pressure on parts of the body that may be healing. If soreness persists, you might ask your practitioner to prescribe an estrogen cream to lessen pain and tenderness.

    Do not expect orgasms the first time you have sex after delivery. Some women don't have orgasms for weeks after childbirth, even if they were highly orgasmic before.

    Try to spend some quality time alone with your partner regularly, even if for only 15 minutes at a time.

    Communicate. If either of you feels strange, scared, or sore, tell your partner. Keep a sense of humor and don't expect too much -- there is always another time.

    Remember that even if you're breast-feeding you'll need a good form of contraception. Ask your health care provider's advice.

    Although most couples find this a demanding time, they also ultimately find it very rewarding. Keep your expectations realistic, and it can be a time of renewed intimacy and pleasure.

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