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Sex and relationships when you are a parent

6-minute read

Key facts

  • Parenting can put a lot of pressure on your relationship, including your sex life.
  • Many couples find their sexual relationship changes after the birth of their child.
  • It's important to keep communicating with your partner about intimacy.
  • Try to find ways to stay connected and intimate that work for both of you.

How do I keep a healthy sexual relationship with my partner after having a baby?

In the time leading up to the birth of your child, you may not have given much thought to how becoming a parent might influence your relationship.

Becoming a parent can be a big change for you and your partner. Some people feel more connected to their partner at this time, while other couples may need time to adjust. It’s likely that some of the adjustments you need to make are to do with your sexual relationship.

Having a baby doesn’t mean your sex life is over. But you may find that the kind of sex you have and how often you have it changes.

How soon after having a baby can I have sex?

Unless your doctor has told you not to have sex, you can start having sex as soon as you feel physically and mentally ready. For many parents, that may mean many weeks or even months. There is no ‘right’ time.

While you’re working your way through any uncertainty or difficulty in your sexual relationship, it’s important to communicate with your partner. It’s important not to feel pressured to become intimate before you are ready.

Your body after having a baby

After the birth of your child, it may be a while before you feel ready to start having sex again.

Your body needs time to heal after childbirth. Many people feel sore and tired immediately after the giving birth.

Further down the track, your interest in having sex after your baby is born can be affected by:

It may take even longer if you’ve had a difficult birth needing surgery or stitches. If so, you can try other forms of sexual activity that feel comfortable.

If you’ve had a tear or a caesarean section, you will be told not to have sex until at least your first post-natal check-up.

Your mental health after having a baby

Not all birth experiences go according to plan. Childbirth can be a difficult experience for some people. Even if your child’s birth goes smoothly, having a baby can be an overwhelming life event.

Both you and your partner may feel tired, stressed, or struggle with postnatal anxiety and depression.

These things can affect your mental health and disrupt your sex life. If you are worried about your mental health, talk to your doctor. They can suggest treatment options and give you advice.

It’s important to communicate with your partner about mental wellbeing.

How do my partner and I stay connected?

Some couples find they feel disconnected from one another while adjusting to parenthood and focusing on their child. Sometimes one partner may feel left out or unappreciated, or resentful of their partner’s reaction to the new situation. These feelings are common.

Talking with your partner about how you feel, and how they feel, will help you understand what’s happening in your relationship. It will help alleviate blame and resentment.

Good communication is important to help you stay connected and find ways to maintain intimacy with one another, such as through:

  • cuddles
  • kissing
  • leaving or sending loving messages during the day

How do I find time to spend with my partner?

New parents sometimes find it can be challenging to make the time and energy to spend with each other. But it’s still important for your relationship to spend time together. Taking time to connect with your partner doesn’t need to be complicated.

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Share a meal together when your baby is asleep.
  • Go for a walk together — take your baby with you if you can’t find a babysitter.
  • Phone your partner during the day to see how they’re going.

You can start small, such as by going out for coffee. You can work your way up to longer outings.

It’s a good idea to plan your time — organise a date, find a babysitter and make it happen.

Do I need contraception when I have sex after having a baby?

It is possible for you to become pregnant as soon as 3 weeks after giving birth. If you don’t want to become pregnant, you will need to use contraception.

Most methods of contraception can be used after childbirth. Speak to your doctor or midwife about what is best for you.

Resources and support

If you or your partner need help, you can ask your doctor for advice. You may be referred to a counsellor or therapist.

You can seek relationship advice through the Relationships Australia website. You can also call them on 1300 364 277.

Parents can find emotional support and resources through:

Speak to a maternal child health nurse

Call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby to speak to a maternal child health nurse on 1800 882 436 or video call. Available 7am to midnight (AET), 7 days a week.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: April 2023

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Need more information?

Tips for new parents

Read more on Relationships Australia website

Tips for new parents

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Healthy relationships: parents & partners | Raising Children Network

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Intimacy and sex after baby and birth | Raising Children Network

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There are no rules about when to start having sex again after you’ve given birth. Don’t rush into it. If sex hurts, it won’t be pleasurable.

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Conception, Infertility and Assisted Reproduction

The idea of having a family starts well before conception. The dreams and desires of wanting a baby can start early in life and continues to develop over time.

Read more on Gidget Foundation Australia website

Call us and speak to a Maternal Child Health Nurse for personal advice and guidance.

Need further advice or guidance from our maternal child health nurses?

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