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By Associate Professor TAN Thiam Chye Head & Senior Consultant, Dr Janice TUNG Associate Consultant, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, KK Women's and Children's Hospital

Having a baby marks a milestone in your family life but it's also important that you continue to build a strong and intimate relationship with your partner. Most mums are able to resume sex after six weeks, although some women may not be in the mood. Here are some pointers you can use for sex after giving birth:

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  • Explore other ways of intimacy like snuggling, kissing or caressing
  • Take time to relax and do things that make you feel good about your body. Your partner can help you out too, such as exchanging massages or showering together
  • Minimise distractions. Get a family member or friend to babysit so you can enjoy time along with your partner. And turn off your mobile phones!
  • Use lubricating gel if your vagina tissue feels dry and sex is uncomfortable
  • Warm up. The more foreplay you can fit in, the more you will feel ready for sex
  • Don't worry if you sometimes feel that you will never be passionate about sex again. It's usually a temporary state of mind.

Related: Resuming Sexual Relations and Contraception

If you and your partner are not ready to have another child yet, there are many birth control options you can use after delivery:

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  • Lactational amenorrhoea method (LAM): Breastfeeding mums who have not had their periods yet are protected from pregnancy in the first six months after childbirth. It is 98 percent effective, if your baby is fully breastfed and you have no periods in the six months.
  • Condoms: These are 85 to 96 percent effective.
  • Intra-uterine device: This is inserted in the womb six weeks after delivery and has a success rate of 99 percent. However, it may drop out, cause more painful or heavy periods, and infection in some women. Once inserted, it can be kept for up to 5 years. In some women, it may be difficult to remove after that, requiring a small surgical procedure.
  • Hormonal methods: These include mini pills, injectables, implants in the arm and combined oral contraceptive (COC) pills — they have a success rate of over 99 percent. Mini pills have to be taken daily and around the same time each day. Injectables and implants in the arm can cause irregular menstrual spotting. COC pills should be taken by women who are not breastfeeding.
  • Natural methods: Rhythm and withdrawal methods may have no side effects but are the least effective with success rates of only 70 percent.
  • Permanent sterilisation: Female fallopian tubal ligation or clipping requires surgery and is irreversible, so consider it carefully before you decide. The male version, known as vasectomy, is generally safer and may be performed in an outpatient clinic.

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Sources:

The New Art and Science of Pregnancy and Childbirth 2008, World Scientific

Healthy Start for your Pregnancy 2012, Health Promotion Board Singapore