The new mom can check the healing of her episiotomy scar by gently pressing pressing her finger on the inside back wall of the vagina. If there's no pain, it’s probably safe to have intercourse. If pain from the episiotomy scar persists at the six-week checkup, she must make her healthcare provider aware of this.
Vaginal penetration may be painful at first for many new mothers. Their low level of estrogen decreases vaginal lubrication, with resulting dryness of tissues. (This is especially common in women who breastfeed.) Fear of causing pain during penetration may lead one or both partners to avoid all forms of lovemaking, not just intercourse. This can put a damper on the couple's relationship.
Finding time for gentle pleasuring and cuddling can help the couple get started. Relaxing in a warm tub or enjoying a shower together may well get the juices flowing. Loving, slow massage of different parts of the body for both partners; kissing; caressing with hands or mouth; and breast and genital massage can be pleasurable and sensuous - instead of, or as a prelude to, intercourse.
Water-soluble lubricants such as Astroglide, Replend or Slippery Stuff can decrease vaginal dryness, and very slow, gentle penetration can ease concerns about discomfort. Experimenting with different angles and positions, and telling each other what feels good, can increase communication and pleasure.
If you would prefer not to become pregnant at this time, a condom, well-lubricated, is probably the best contraceptive in the early weeks. An IUD or diaphragm can't be fitted until the postpartum visit at six weeks. Breastfeeding mothers should not use the birth control pill or Norplant because they interfere with milk production.
You and your partner will undoubtedly find new ways to regain the romance you may fear you've lost for good. Be reassured that, with time, you will again have a life - yes, even a love life!