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Sex during pregnancy

why no sex
when sex?

It can be helpful for men to understand some things about pregnancy, birth, motherhood, and fatherhood and how all of these stages and changes affect couples’ sex lives.

Hormones – chemicals that the body produces – play a big part in how a woman feels about sex during the pregnancy. A woman’s sex drive may ramp-up or die-down during different parts of the pregnancy because of what is going on in her body. this is just a normal part of the process, not some down-turn in your relationship.

Some men can have reduced interest in sex as the pregnancy progresses and after the baby arrives. This is also about hormones and how involved he is with the pregnancy and birth.

Every person and every couple is different. But what is common is that pregnancy, and then parenting, brings changes to all couples’ relationship and this includes their sex lives.

That said, both of you can be assured that having sex during the pregnancy will not harm the baby. This link has a very direct video discussion about this.


Why parents don’t have sex soon after the birth

Discussing bodily functions may be something couples don’t do. Women may not want to mention that they still have some bleeding for 4-6 weeks after the birth or that she is having pain when she pees. If she had stitches, these need time to heal. Her breasts may be very sensitive and she may find it uncomfortable for them to be touched. Or milk may leak or squirt from her breasts and that may feel embarrassed. She may be worried about what having intercourse will feel like, given what her body has been through.

Without talking about these kinds of things, her partner may not realise there are very real reasons why she isn’t interested in sex at this time.

She will want to know that you are interested in how she is doing. Talking about personal things is how we come to trust and feel close to our partner. This can be far more important than physical intimacy – and will likely lead to physical intimacy in time.


When will we have sex again?


The minimum amount of time that women’s bodies take to recovers from giving birth is about six weeks.

But that doesn’t mean that six weeks mark some green light point. Every birth is different and every woman is different. Even if she has physically recovered, she may not be emotionally ready for sex. There is a lot going on with a new baby in the home. Only your partner will know when she feels ready to have sex. It can be much longer than six weeks.

Your partner should always be able to expect to enjoy sex. She shouldn’t be expected to have sex if she’s not.


Do parents ever have sex?

off the menu

Of course they do, but couples have sex less often than they did before the baby. Studies have found this to be pretty much universal. This is not just about women recovering from childbirth but about changes to both of the parents' lives.


These changes may be from:

  • Fatigue, constant busyness and feeling so focused on the baby

  • The couple’s affection now has to extend to the baby, and that may not leave much for each other

  • Lovingly caring for a baby produces hormones that make the parents feel good, which is good, but these hormones also reduce their sex drives

  • A new mother, who gets lots of physical contact with the baby, can feel “touched-out” and not want touching from her partner

  • New dads can  find they need time to recover emotionally after the birth before they are able to feel intimate again

  • If either parent is depressed, sex is probably off the table


There are things couples can learn, and do, that might get their sex life moving again.

Sex off the menu?

Having little or no sex for a while may feel like the end of something. This can a be big deal for some men. It’s okay to feel that. But it’s not the end of the world. And it doesn’t mean it’s the end of your sex life or your relationship.  It can be the beginning of more understanding and communication with each other and a more connected and intimate relationship in the long term.

Your partner might feel concerned about these things, too. She might have misgivings about how it will feel for her to have intercourse after having given birth. Or she might be afraid you won’t find her attractive anymore. Remember, this isn’t just about you; it’s all different for her, too. And by the way, you can ask her how she feels about it, don’t leave it to her to say. 

Talking about sex

You may find that talking about how you are each doing and feeling can help you feel closer. Talking about where you are both up to around sex may help.

Talking about sex isn’t about making her feel guilty, or acting the injured party, or trying to talk her into it. It can be as simple as just putting the topic out there. Or it might be about talking about what you are feeling an asking her about how she is feeling about it.

Communicating is as much about listening a it is talking. She will probably appreciate you listening to her about how her life has changed and how she is feeling about lots of things, including sex. This isn’t about you offering solutions, just listening can be what she needs from you.

If talking about it isn’t helping (or is making it worse), you might find a mate or family member who has been through this to talk to.

Alternatives to intercourse


Okay … jerking off, wanking, tossing-off, masturbating – there you go, we’ve said it. Everyone does it, it’s just that people don’t talk about it. If your partner’s gone off sex and you haven’t, masturbating doesn't hurt anyone.

If she doesn’t feel ready for intercourse, she might not mind giving you a hand. But equally, she may have her hands full at the moment and that’s all good too.


Feeling left out


If you're feeling left out on the sex front, you’re in good company. Right now there are millions of men around the world who are not getting laid  because they are about to, or have recently, become a father.

And sex doesn’t mean the same thing to all men. There are stereotypes about how much men desire sex that are often more myth than accurate or helpful.

Birth control

Don’t think that because your partner recently gave birth – or that because she is breastfeeding – that she can’t become pregnant again. She can.


Birth control is both of your responsibilities. If you haven't visited Family Planning on-line, you might have a look.


Going outside your relationship for sex poses risks to your relationship and family. There is far more to it than trying to be clever and figuring out how to get away with it.

You may lose your partner's trust – which you may never get back. Or you may become distracted from the things that are really important to you. You may also lose your ability to be with your children the way you want to be.  You may also lose friends, and family members may turn away from you.

Staying the course


Good luck, congratulations and enjoy becoming a dad! Change is part of what keeps life interesting and changes to your sex life is no different, it’s just the way it is.


Appreciating your partner and enjoying each other’s company are a good foundation to any couple’s sex life.

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