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By Linda Dominguez, WHNP

Created: 11/23/2011
Last Updated: 07/19/2012

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Q: I had a vaginal delivery. Will sex be the same for my husband and me?

First, there may be physical healing you need to do. You may have torn or been cut in the perineum—the bridge of tissue between your vagina and rectum—in order to ease the baby's passage. This cut, called an episiotomy, can be quite painful and takes several weeks to heal completely. It is a concern for some women when they begin having sex again after birth. Some women find the episiotomy affects their sex life even three years after birth. However, the perineum will usually begin to feel normal about six weeks after delivery. One study evaluating sex in the postpartum period found that 90 percent of women had begun having sex again within 10 weeks. Like so many other things about your body, the time it takes to heal following childbirth is an individual thing: three weeks, six weeks, 10 weeks—everyone is different.

Finally, there may be psychological aspects. Maybe you are still exhausted from the pregnancy, delivery and first weeks home with your new baby. You may be in some form of "shock" from the delivery itself. And if your husband viewed it, he may still be recovering from the vividness of it all. You may even be depressed. If you are experiencing persistent feelings of depression, make sure you see your health care provider or ask a family member for support.

So my advice to you is to slow down. Just remember that intimacy and sex do not have to be one and the same. You can still find ways to be intimate with your partner without intercourse.

Try carving out some time for just the two of you. This could be a quiet dinner after the baby is asleep or even an actual date, once you feel comfortable leaving your newborn with someone you trust. I also recommend cuddling together in bed. After holding a baby all day long, it can feel very soothing to have someone hold you for a change.