Having sex immediately after childbirth can cause bleeding, infection, painful sex and break down of perineal tear in women, says a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist.
The gynaecologist, Abosede Lewu, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday that the well-being of the woman immediately after birth would determine when to resume sexual intercourse.
Ms Lewu is the team lead at Girlsaide Initiative and Convener, Keep All Mothers Alive Project.
According to her, resumption of sexual activity can commence from 42 days or six weeks after delivery or childbirth, if the woman’s overall well-being is great.
“The vaginal area can feel sore and painful after childbirth and there might be stitches after perineal tearing during the birth.
Therefore, the woman’s body after pregnancy needs to recover and go back to normal.
“If she resumes sexual intercourse without allowing the body to recover, there can be complications such as: bleeding, infections, poor healing, painful sex, break down of perineal tear and other health problems,” she said.
Ms Lewu said the time couples could resume sexual intercourse after childbirth has been a topic of controversy and discord in some homes.
“The popular trimesters of pregnancy are the first, second and third, but there is a fourth component which we call ‘puerperium’.
“The ‘puerperium’ is also a critical period in the life of a woman that has just had a pregnancy and it is the first 42 days or six weeks after delivery.
“This 42-day period is not set on stone. The well-being of the woman is what determines when to resume sexual intercourse as a couple,” she said.
The gynaecologist said not all women could resume sexual activities six weeks after child birth as some might not have experienced smooth deliveries.
“A woman could have had a difficult pregnancy, difficult delivery, postpartum mental health challenges, stress, fatigue, absence of physical or emotional support, loss of libido and multiple babies.
“And in some instances, she just does not feel like resuming sexual intercourse yet. So, it is inadvisable to say once it is six weeks, a woman must resume sexual intercourse.
“Her overall health and wellbeing must be thoroughly observed, and she must be ready.
“This is not the case in all women, some have smooth deliveries, and their libido or sex drive simply bounces back within the six weeks’ period,” she said.
Ms Lewu urged husbands, families and friends to support women immediately after delivery so that they could recover and resume all their activities as soon as they could.
“Provide physical support. Help with cleaning, cooking and care of the baby so the woman can nap and sleep as new babies can keep women up all night.
“Husbands should speak encouraging words and show appreciation to their wives, this is not the time to criticise, rather be a source of joy and admiration, remind her of how beautiful she is and how motherhood is an additional beauty on her.
“If she has any medical or delivery related complication, ensure she uses her medications and go for follow up and care.
“In most cases, this is a phase, and it will surely pass,” Ms Lewu said.