If you’ve had a baby, you are likely aware of the ‘no sex for six weeks’ rule. Once you get the ‘ok’ from your clinician at your postpartum check-up, sex often becomes a large part of the conversation between you and your partner. You might be surprised to discover, though, that sex after baby is often different – especially if you’re nursing! This also means finding your new “normal.” Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you and your significant other resume your usual bedroom activities:
While your partner may be ready to resume sexual intercourse, that does not necessarily mean that you are. Whether you had a vaginal birth or a c-section, your body might not feel ready yet. Moms – remember that this is ok! Not only are your hormones changing, but you are likely exhausted (thank you, nighttime feedings!) and still adjusting to life with a new baby. In addition, if you are nursing, the hormones that promote lactation coincidentally lower your libido. Call it “mother nature’s birth control” – your body does this so you can nurse your little one and recover before any subsequent pregnancies.
What to do: Go easy on yourself. Oftentimes, as mothers, wives, and as women, in general, we are our own harshest critics. Be open with your partner about how you are feeling and what your body is feeling. Just because you may not feel ready for intercourse does not mean you cannot be intimate in other ways. Consider exploring other avenues to express your love and intimacy for each other, such as taking walks with the baby or stealing a date night for even just an hour. Know, too, that your body will heal, your libido will return, and eventually you will feel more like yourself.
The changes your body undergoes while pregnant are beautiful and nothing short of a miracle. To be able to grow a human and give birth is an incredible process. That being said, some of those physical changes have left you feeling less like yourself. As a result, you might be feeling less confident in how you and your significant other view your body.
What to do: First, take a deep breath and gaze at the beautiful baby you created. Give yourself some grace and know that you are not only caring for yourself, but you have acquired another little person who needs you in many ways. Try not to focus on losing weight as much as simply staying healthy, especially if you’re breastfeeding – you need those calories! Instead, make small, manageable changes such as increasing your water intake, cutting down on refined sugars, and going for light walks when your doctor gives the ‘ok.’ Another thing – remember that the ‘perfect postpartum body’ we see in tabloids is not a reality. Photoshop is real, as are stretch marks and squishy stomachs. Trust that your partner loves you for you and that you will soon feel more like yourself and gain your confidence back. In the meantime, just focus on loving yourself and your little family.
Hormone changes due to pregnancy and nursing can leave your body temporarily less able to produce natural lubrication. This can make intercourse painful, but that does not mean you have to forgo sex.
What to do: Try introducing a natural store-bought lubricant. If that doesn’t seem sufficient, or if you just don’t prefer this route, talk to your clinician. He or she can prescribe a cream that naturally induces more vaginal lubrication. Check out our other tips to combat dryness.
Let’s be honest, having a baby means that it’s hard to fit in even our everyday tasks, like grocery shopping or exercise. Girl’s nights out have become more of a rarity, too, with a young baby at home. Trying to find uninterrupted time for sex can be even harder! This reality doesn’t mean that you love your partner any less – it does mean that your life is different now. Subsequently, your sex life is probably different, too.
What to do: Take advantage of the lulls that come up during the day – quickies are your new best friend! There is not usually time for a long session of love making. Sometimes all you have is five minutes before the baby wakes up or before it’s time to pick up older siblings from school. Making time to fit in quickies IS romantic! Being romantic means being intentional with the person you love – take advantage of those small windows of time!
Side note: weekend afternoons (ideally when naptime is!) can take on a whole new meaning. Afternoons really can be “delightful!” If you are like most moms, by the time the evening rolls around, you are exhausted. There is rarely enough energy for a love making session. Afternoons, however, are typically higher energy parts of the day. Take advantage of that! A new normal for you might mean having sex at different times than you did before baby.
Babies are wonderful. Your relationship is also wonderful and deserves time and attention, too. Know that it takes time to figure out what sex after baby looks like and feels like to you and your partner – and that’s ok! Do you have a tip to share for postpartum moms? We want to hear it!
Kelsey Packard is a project manager in Austin Texas with a Masters in Human Development and Family Studies and certifications in parent-child attachment. She is a mama to two littles. She enjoys writing in her free time and supporting other mothers. She can be reached at email@example.com