After you have had your baby

What to watch out for as a new mum

Newborns and babies under 3 months

Mental health

Coping with a lack of sleep

Changing relationships

Sex and contraception

Having sex after birth

You can start having sex again whenever you feel ready after your baby is born. Most women feel sore and tired for a while after giving birth, this is normal and you should not feel pressure to do anything you are not up to. Most couples will start having sex again by 3 months.

Women who have small tears will need 2 weeks to heal, those who have had a cut or larger tear will need at least 4 weeks, do not have sex if you feel you are still healing.

It is good to have some lubricant when you start having sexagain as there can be changes in your vagina. Be gentle when having sex for the first time, if sex is painful speak to your GP. It is good to talk to your partner about your feelings about having sex again and any pain you have.

Remember you can fall pregnant again as soon as 3 weeks after birth, if you have not started contraception then condoms should be used until you can see a doctor or sexual health clinic.

Contraception after giving birth

You can become pregnant again at 3 weeks after your baby is born. Most contraception can start as soon as your baby is born and breastfeeding is safe with this. It is good to have condoms to use when you start having sex again if you have not started contraception.

If you start the implant, injection or mini-pill before your baby is 3 weeks old then it will protect you without needing to use condoms. Coils can be put in at c-section or within 2 days of giving birth, after this they can be put in when your baby is 4 weeks or older. The combined pill, patch andring can be started 3-6 weeks after birth. Permanent contraception such as vasectomy or sterilisation need to be discussed with your GP and can take as long as 6 months to organise.

If you forget to use contraception and your baby is older than 3 weeks then you can use the morning after pill from the pharmacy or the copper coil from sexual health.

Breastfeeding is only a contraception if your baby is younger than 6 months and you are not using a bottle or dummy, if your periods have come back then it will not work as contraception.

It is healthy to leave 1 year between birth and your next pregnancy to reduce the risk of the next baby being small or coming early.

People who can talk to you about contraception include; midwife,health visitor, GP and sexual health clinic

To find out more about contraception after birth, click here.


** We are looking to found out your opinions on using contraception after you give birth. The survey below is an opportunity for you to tell us how you would want to get contraception and what type you would be most likely to use. The results of this survey will be shared with Public Health in Southampton, Portsmouth and Hampshire councils to make changes that help women get the contraception they want in the way they want it after giving birth. **

Urinary incontinence

What is urinary incontinence?

The involuntary loss of urine (uncontrolled leakage of pee)

WHAT TO EXPECT IN PREGNANCY?

  • 1 in 3 women experience urinary incontinence during pregnancy and/or after birth
  • WHY? During pregnancy, hormones make your muscles relax and your pelvic floor stretches in preparation for the birth of your baby/s. These hormonal changes are also responsible for your frequent night trips to the toilet. As your pregnancy progresses, the pressure of your baby/s over your bladder can make you leak urine when coughing, sneezing, laughing, running, jumping and lifting weights, such as shopping bags or your own children. Top tip: tighten your pelvic muscles before doing any of these activities.
  • Just because it's a common problem doesn't mean it's normal, and you can't do anything about it. Here are some tips for a healthy bladder:

- Do pelvic floor exercises regularly during pregnancy. Click here for information on how to do them

- Drink plenty of fluid to keep you hydrated. Top tip: look at the colour of your pee. The ideal wee should be 1-3 healthy, with little or no smell and a good amount. A dribble is not enough.

- Limit the amount of caffeine, fizzy drinks, alcohol, fruit juices and anything that contains caffeine, as they all irritate your bladder and make you need the toilet more often. Smoking also irritates the bladder.

- Constipation is related to urinary incontinence. Pressure from a full bowel and too much strain can weaken your pelvic floor muscles and make it harder to control your urine. Excessive weight gain can also increase the pressure over your bladder. Top tip: Eat a healthy balanced diet with plenty of fibre and exercise regularly.

- When passing urine, pay attention to the flow (weak or slow), feeling of emptiness (do you think you still need to go but you can't?) and hesitancy (trouble starting to pee or maintaining the flow). Top tip: Later in pregnancy, some women find it helps to rock backwards and forwards while they're on the toilet. This lessens the pressure of the womb on the bladder so you can empty it properly.


WHAT TO EXPECT AFTER HAVING YOUR BABY

It is normal to have a weak sensation in your pelvic floor after birth, particularly if you had:

  • a long labour
  • an epidural
  • a big baby
  • an instrumental delivery (forceps or suction cup)
  • a cut or a 3rd/4th degree tear

Current research estimates that it can take up to a year to fully recover from childbirth.

Some women are scared of peeing after labour. Top tip: you can pour some water when you pee or pee in the shower.

The first few times you pee after giving birth you might find some blood, which usually comes from your vagina (lochia) rather than your bladder. Keep an eye on the colour of your urine, flow, hesitancy and bladder emptiness.

Start your pelvic floor exercises as soon as possible and keep exercising throughout your life, like any other muscle. You might not have much feeling at the beginning, but the earlier you start, the better.

Drink plenty of fluids, keep caffeine to a minimum, and avoid constipation and smoking. Remember to tighten your pelvic floor muscles before lifting you baby/s or any other weight. Make sure you go to the toilet regularly. This might be hard when looking after a newborn baby, but you need to look after yourself too.

Some women experience abdominal muscle separation (diastasis recti), which has been linked with urinary incontinence and back pain. Talk to your midwife or GP if you are worried about this.


WHEN TO SEEK HELP

- pain or blood when you pee - it maybe a urine infection

- unable to empty your bladder

- leakage or urine despite measures mentioned above

- leakage of stools


WHO TO CONTACT?

Ask your midwife or contact your GP, they may refer you to a woman's health physiotherapist

Some areas of Wessex offer a self-referral service for women after giving birth, which means you can make an appointment to see an NHS physiotherapist without having to see a doctor first. Staff at your GP surgery or your local hospital should be able to tell you whether it's available in your area.

- If you maternity care was provided by University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust you can refer yourself within ten working days after your baby is born to the Women's health physiotherapy team at the Princess Anne on 023 8120 8967. If you have concerns beyond this time please make an appointment with your GP.

- If you have a Southampton GP postcode, you can self-refer on: Community Bladder & Bowel Service Bitterne Health Centre Commercial Street. Bitterne, Southampton SO18 6BT. Telephone: 0300 123 3795; E-mail snhs.bladderandbowelwest@nhs.net


Make new friends in your area

Having a new baby can be overwhelming and at times can feel quite lonely. Download this app to meet other parents in your local area, share parenting tips and arrange socials

Hide this section
Show accessibility tools