Banging after birth: Real life stories of having sex after having a baby

It’s the topic that always comes up after a few wines between mums: who’s having sex and who’s not? We present a no holds barred tell-all about the sexual experiences of mothers, curated by Spinoff Parents editor Emily Writes.

Is it really a piece about sex if I don’t say “Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby”? Well, let’s knock that one off right now. Sex after babies, sex as a mum, sex when you’re breastfeeding, sex after a vaginal birth, sex after a c-section – these are all topics I’m told we don’t talk about enough. I often get asked for pieces on what sex is like after birth. This isn’t an easy question to answer since we are all just so different.

Everyone wants to know who is fucking, how they’re fucking, what is “normal” and what isn’t.

So, I asked all of the mums I know (and some I don’t know at all) to share their experiences. I was inundated with emails and messages and had heaps of long chats; this piece was originally more than 2000 words longer than it is now. Mothers want to talk about this. And it might be helpful for people who don’t give birth to read this too, to try to understand what it can be like.

Thank you to all of the mothers who shared their stories. Stories have been edited for clarity.

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I was a single mum when I gave birth and my midwife never gave me the lowdown on sex post-baby because I didn’t have a partner. I had a vaginal birth with forceps and a hefty amount of stitching. This left me terrified to self pleasure internally in case something was broken. I did however use masturbation a lot in the early days, possibly as a way of gaining some control over my body and a release of the stress and pressure of motherhood. Now I have a partner and notice when we have my child in the house with us sex is quick. I’m not totally focused because I’m thinking of when they will wake up and need me. I also like my partner taking control in the bedroom because I feel I have to make decisions and drive situations in every aspect of my life now. But I would hands down take a nice massage and snuggle over a root.

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Morning sex is my jam now. I’m too touched out and tired at night for any galavanting so a 6am dine and dash sesh is when the action happens. I could easily go a couple weeks without sex due to busy schedules. I’m also a bit selfish in the bedroom and want it all about me. I should probably work on this and give more BJs.

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I like my male partner to take control too. I have to drive every other bloody decision in this family if I have to do it with sex too it would just become a chore.

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I’m a mum of two, and I had very long vaginal births. Stitches and rips for days. I went off sex with my partner – my attraction went out like flipping an off switch. It killed our relationship completely in the end. It took years and a new sexual partner to get back in the game.

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I’m a mum of two and my first birth involved a episiotomy that inadvertently cut into the side wall of my vagina. After birth I had significant scar tissue and a vaginal prolapse. We had penetrative sex six weeks after birth because that’s when I thought it was meant to be OK again. It was really not OK. We stopped because the pain was so bad. I needed physio to address the scar tissue, and sex remained painful for about six months. Four years later our sex life has learnt to adjust to positions that work OK with prolapse. But shit, didn’t know what I was getting into that’s for sure.

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I had two emergency caesarean babies. Sex after babies has been exactly the same as before babies, except for the extra tiredness that lowers my libido, so we make an effort to schedule sex in (yes schedule!) at least once a week.

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It took me a good 6-10 months to get ANY libido back. For me it didn’t really come back on stream until I’d finished breast feeding so about a year after each kid. We need to schedule it too and I think my kids are still too young and too encompassing for me to really love it up in the bedroom.

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I’m a mum of three, all born vaginally. Physically I had no big issues after having children – I was nervous each time because of the potential for discomfort but it was never as bad as I thought. I orgasm more intensely since I have children and enjoy sex more, and I think that’s because I’m more confident about expressing what I want and how I want it. Some of that’s no doubt about maturity, but it’s also about sex being less regular than it once was and so wanting it to hit the mark when we get the chance! Mentally I did struggle a bit after each birth – I didn’t find my milk filled breasts particularly attractive and the idea of milk dripping on my husband and grossing him out worried me. The worst of it for me was from about three months after my third child when I was struggling with PND and sex terrified me because the thought of getting pregnant again was too much for me to bear. I struggled to orgasm and as time went on could not orgasm at all with my husband, although I tried not to let him know how awful it was for me. The end result, six months post delivery, was a panic attack during sex, which he initially mistook for arousal but soon realised was nothing of the sort when I collapsed on him in a sobbing, gasping mess. Poor man had the fright of his life, I think. But it did lead to a really good conversation about how I’d been feeling and then onto me getting treatment. It took me a while to get back into it after that but fear not, dear friends, all is well now.

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I’m a mum of two, my first was c-section, my second was vaginal birth. I had no libido at all until I got diagnosed (and therefore treated) with pregnancy-induced hypothyroidism and stopped breastfeeding. Sex is kinda the same but definitely needs more lube than before. I’ve got scar tissue from “vaginal grazing” so have less sensation than before birth. I had weird random sharp pains occasionally with penetration. I still haven’t identified the cause of those although I don’t seem to get them as often. Oh, one weird thing, my cervix is way lower around my period than it used to be which can make penetration tricky. I’ve discovered being given touch, as opposed to it being taken, helps get me in the mood. By this I mean full body massage. And also the house has to be tidy and the children asleep.

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After a seriously life threatening birth, fear of conceiving again was a big issue for me. Even though we were using contraceptives it wasn’t until my husband got a vasectomy that I really relaxed on that point. I think men can underestimate this psychological aspect of post-birth sex. If you are done, then do it out of love and care for your partner.

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I still feel angry my husband has not yet had a vasectomy despite our ‘deal’ during my third pregnancy and my PND induced horror of getting pregnant again. I’ve got an IUD but I still have three days before my period when I get anxious that maybe my PMS symptoms are early pregnancy symptoms. He just doesn’t seem to get it at all.

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I have had no issues with pain, but the libido was non existent for about nine months after each pregnancy. I thought I was alone at the time.

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I’m a mum of one, I had a vaginal birth, with some tearing. I first had penetrative sex about six months post-birth. I actually found and find that sex helps with feeling touched out as it feels less about my body being needed and more about my body being wanted. Or being appreciated maybe. But that might be that as a single mum, all the sex I’ve had has been with someone who is a) not the father of my child and b) not someone I live with. My libido about the same (high) but I definitely want sex to be over faster because I want to sleep. It’s harder to orgasm but it’s more intense.

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I don’t have much sensation in my vagina anymore and I haven’t had an orgasm since I gave birth three years ago. My husband and I had sex about three months after the birth and I just kept expecting that eventually I’d orgasm again. But it never happened. You’re the first person I’ve told.

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I had two children born vaginally, and actually giving birth really helped my sex life. I had some weird pain all through my 20s, which no one could properly diagnose (as you all know, women’s genitalia is thoroughly under-studied), and I think they called ‘Vulvar Vestibulities’ which is basically just a collective name for severe pain in penetration.The doctors gave me some injection straight in my vagina, and that helped enough that we could get on with the whole getting pregnant thing. After birth, a few very painful stitches, a bit of a refurb down there – no more pain! Who’d have thought that sex would be better with a bit of a torn up vagina? But it was and is! Also, after kids I feel less guilty about not wanting sex all the time, as I feel ‘I’m knackered because I have babies’ is a more valid excuse than just not feeling up to it.

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I had penetrative sex just two and a half weeks after giving birth to my first child. It was a long and complicated labour, ending in ventouse delivery…. But I was really lucky, in having no tearing and healing fast. It was all such an emotional, intense experience. I felt so at sea; the whole world had shifted. The emotional and physical need for my husband – for the familiar connection, the intimacy, to be back in my body again – was so strong. The sex was slightly painful, but also good. Then at about four weeks post partum our (awesome!) midwife gave me the sex talk, telling me six weeks onwards at least. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that ship has already sailed!

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My limited tolerance for penis in vagina sex went to nothing at all after my third child, probably because that was when I decided not to have any more children. I am not typical I would say. I am demisexual and really only attracted to women (a tiny percentage of women) so after the babies it was kind of difficult to cope with heterosexual sex.

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With my first birth I had third degree tearing, although the obstetrician said it was more because of the position of the tear, than the severity. It “spiralled up” ending just before my clitoris. We waited six weeks before trying to have sex. It hurt so bad, we stopped immediately. After a few more weeks of very gentle, slow, respectful trying, the pain eased…. And I got pregnant again (I was on the pill, exclusively breastfeeding and hadn’t had my period back so I felt majorly ripped off). Hyperemesis gravidarum and a baby with impeccable timing on their crying put paid to our love life pretty much. Following the second birth, no tear and all good, we again waited six weeks and I was terrified remembering the pain following the first birth, but it was absolutely fine. Our love life is a million times better post-vasectomy! That knowledge that no babies can eventuate has brought great mental freedom.

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I’m still touched out almost three years after the last birth. I had three c-sections (one elective, two emergency) and so the discomfort was more around managing the scar which I found bloody painful and sensitive and also my leaky and sometimes mastitis-y boobs. And of course the extreme tiredness.

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I have had four vaginal births and hardly ever want my husband to even touch me. Sex kinda sucks now. Definitely not as pleasurable, but seeing as I have no libido I don’t care!

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Had one baby vaginally (and got all ripped up). My partner was with me in a front row seat, even had to hold my leg during the birth at one stage because the stirrups broke. After that all my inhibitions and body hangups left and once I was healed up our sex much life got better than pre-kid. I think my libido wasn’t changed but I love my body more.

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I couldn’t have sex for at least six months after my c-section, due to a variety of reasons. When I did have sex again after the c-section, it was painful on the incision site and I also realised I wasn’t sexually attracted to my then-husband. Also I was breastfeeding and hated anyone touching my breasts. I have major hangups about the stretchmarks on my tummy and I am not as body confident as I was before having a child.

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I was young when I had my first. I had an episiotomy but I still bounced back pretty quickly. Unfortunately due to a controlling and unhealthy relationship, I had to go back to work three weeks after birth and he expected me to be ready for other things by then too. So it definitely wasn’t pleasant. After number two I had a prolapse that had to be surgically repaired. Sex was horribly painful for over two years. But the surgeon’s only advice was to “keep trying and it will hopefully get better.” It was not at all fun, and as a trauma survivor I often found it to be quite triggering.

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I suffered from PND after my second child and my third child. I really struggled with not wanting to be intimate because I just wanted to not be touched. My youngest is three now, and I think I have the healthiest sex life I’ve ever had. 

Sex was very sore for many months after my first birth, I had so many stitches all through my vaginal area. Even though my partner was gentle, sex was not in any way ‘fun’ for me for about a year. The baby, even though she was napping, could wake up crying at any time, so it was hard to relax and be expected to feel sexy (especially after being up half the night with night feeds). And I hated my breasts being fondled etc – they were already in so much demand as a milk machine that I resented them being treated as sex toys. I was all touched out and just wanted everyone to leave my tits alone.

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Post-kids I have no sex life. My first was delivered via emergency c-section. Any attempts at intravaginal contact were extremely painful for the first 12 months (I couldn’t even use tampons). I told my doctors and they were absolutely unhelpful and didn’t suggest much that was useful. Sex had just started to not hurt (around 14 months) and I fell pregnant with our second unexpectedly (I was using contraception). I was recently diagnosed with endometriosis and adenomyosis. And I now have a retroverted uterus. So between the pill and anti-anxiety medicine I have zero libido. And because of the retroverted uterus and adenomyosis penetrative sex is painful. My specialist says it’s basically like poking a bruise. And because of all that, I have a real aversion to any sexual contact. So yeah… I wish I could farm the sex out to someone else because I love my husband and it’s tough on him.

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It saddens me that I’m not as sexual as I used to be. Sex feels like hard work and I wish it wasn’t.

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I’m a mum of two under three and had two emergency c sections. Because my vadge has remained untouched by childbirth I figured it would be no different, and penetrative sex is mostly the same except I did notice that my scar and scar tissue got in the way even months later. I’d notice my abdomen felt bruised and sore the next day, just like it felt after birth. To get around it we had to do everything except missionary which is a shame because just lying there is all I feel like doing at the end of the day.

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My nipples are dead which is a huge problem for me because they were a big erogenous zone for me.

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I really prefer my husband to initiate sex and to drive it along. He’s very loving and tender which was great when we were childless but now I just want to get nailed up against the wall. This is probably because I’d like him to take some control and surprise me, but also because I’d like to feel like he has to have me right here, right now.

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After 18 months of nursing twins you could be fondling my elbows for all of the turn on it is.

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After my fourth child weaned at around four years old I found that I was very arousable when I ovulated. Still enjoyed penis in vagina sex, but generally I was only good with it when I was ovulating. Then I started questioning my sexuality. I fell for my now-partner (a woman), had an affair and was having knock-your-socks-off sex. I experienced desire for the first time. It was all very mind blowing. My theory is that women who may be sitting on the queer spectrum may tolerate or even enjoy sex with men because actually we have a strong urge to have babies. I remember feeling a strong urge to reproduce. It was very strong. My partner has said she felt the same way (she was married to a man years ago, and has four adult kids. I think when you couple that with social expectation of the time (we’re talking ’80s-’90s and with a religious backdrop) we get swept along with it. I enjoyed sex when I got warmed up, so that was confusing when I started the questioning journey (“How did I not know?”) but the more I read, I realised that you can be aroused and orgasm without attraction. But desire…that’s a whole other thing, and now sex is recreational and bonding, not procreational.

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I’m a mum of twins who had a caesarean. I had zero libido during breastfeeding, so we didn’t have sex until I weaned the kids at 18 months. Lack of frequency in the bedroom now comes down to me being exhausted due to life, and also not feeling great about myself physically, which definitely affects my libido. I fully intend to remedy this!

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I can’t remember how long it took us to have sex again but I think it was slow to come back – to the point where we’ve definitely had conversations bemoaning the lack of sex in our lives. But we’re back on board now and our youngest is two. We still go through periods of not having much sex but when it’s on it’s generally ON for a few days, which is awesome. Even though we are having less sex, the sex we do have is better than it’s ever been. I don’t understand how, but it is. One thing I noticed was a very definite reduction in sensitivity. Like getting head was one of my favourite pastimes but after babies it did nothing for me! I’ve since realised that if head happens before anything else it’s great, but it can’t happen after a bit of P-in-V because then the more sensitive sensations just don’t cut through? I also have a mild prolapse but thankfully it isn’t a big issue for sex stuff. It still would have been nice to know how common they are though, and what you can do to help yourself after the fact.

One thing that’s developed in our sex lives that’s been really interesting and seems to be related to parenthood in a psychological way is a slight sub-dom dynamic. As a mum I feel like I’m in control of so much of our day to day lives, and out of nowhere emerged this dynamic where my husband takes total control in the bedroom – telling me what to do to him and what he wants to do to me, a whole lot of dirty talk. Stuff that on paper might seem anti-feminist even?! But I love it. He’s never really owned his sexuality and it’s so hot seeing him come into that part of himself. And then I don’t need to think or lead the way, I just get to be this animal, lustful version of myself getting thrown about and tortured – but in a really good way. It’s the best. We’re also getting to understand more and more that sexy times don’t always need to be let’s-have-sex-til-we-both-come. We can just lie next to each other and touch each other, or one of us get the other off, or even just offer a massage if one person is craving intimacy but the other isn’t “in the mood”. This means we connect more because we have more options available to us.

Parenthood definitely changed me physically and contributed to a new dynamic sexually but because we’ve done a lot of talking about things and experimenting and encouraging each other to open up and own what we want/need it has paid off in really great ways.

It’s been so great that I’m terrified we might get pregnant again…but a vasectomy is on the to do list!

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