Having a baby comes along with so many life changes, one of which can be a sex life that feels completely unrecognizable from what you had before. “What sex life?!” you may be asking. Exactly.
The business of baby-making may seem like a distant memory.
You’ve got a whole new human in your life, new responsibilities, and a transformed family dynamic, just to name a few.
You’re trying to figure out so much just to survive.
There’s plenty of publicity given to the lack of sleep you can expect after a baby arrives. I wish I had known more about the lack of sex and what it can do to a marriage.
Soreness and dryness can be dealt with. Usually lube, foreplay, and going slow will help with these in time. But what if your mind is completely not in the game?
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Postpartum Libido Challenges
I’ve been through the postpartum period four times, and I came to recognize a familiar pattern. It takes a full year to get our sex life back on track after a baby. The one-year mark is also when I stop breastfeeding and experience the return of my cycle.
Not that it’s easy for women either. There are so many feelings wrapped up our sex lives. What I wouldn’t have given to feel that desire again and fix everything. But it’s not so simple as a little blue pill.
I still remember being in my OB/GYN’s office crying trying to describe how my nonexistent libido was ruining my relationship with my husband. I had prepared so much to have our baby, but I never expected the pain the lack of postpartum sex drive would cause and how long it would last.
Oh to be one of those women who had trouble waiting out the 6-week postpartum period to get cleared for sex. How I envied them.
It’s not that my husband was angry or demanding. He tried very hard to be supportive and understanding, but he was also clearly hurting and afraid this would be our new normal.
After experiencing a postpartum sex drought four times, here’s what I wish I’d been able to tell my husband the first time around.
On Our Sex Life After Baby
I know things are different right now. I’m sorry it seems like I’m never interested in you.
It’s not you. I still find you attractive. I still love you like crazy.
You haven’t done anything wrong. I’m not trying to punish you.
You’re my rock. I love watching you be such an amazing father. I’d marry you again tomorrow.
I want to want you like I used to. To feel our closeness through sex. I’m not consciously denying you.
That part of me just isn’t working like it should right now. The truth is, I feel broken.
Most days, I’m riddled with guilt knowing you’re suffering. I can feel the lack of sex driving a wedge between us.
But it won’t be like this forever.
There are so many things that can affect a woman’s sex drive after baby. Exhaustion and sleep deprivation are obvious ones.
The feeling of being “overtouched” from all the baby care is also real. Some days I’m so “touched out” I don’t even want the dog to come near me.
But the biggest sex drive killers of all for me are hormones and breastfeeding. Yes, this is a real thing.
Remember the intense pregnancy sex we had (thanks hormones)? Well this is the opposite. While I’m breastfeeding, it’s like the sexy part of my brain is just turned off.
It’s frustrating that this effect is completely out of my control. I know breastfeeding our little one is important to both of us.
I wish there were a quick fix, but it’s not that simple. Still, I’m trying. I really am.
So what can you do to help?
Give me some regular physical touch that’s not intended to lead to sex. Hug me, cuddle me. It will be good for both of us.
Tell me I’m beautiful. Even if I have dark circles under my eyes and am covered in spit up. I need to hear it.
Give me some time by myself every now and then where no one is asking anything of me.
Some extra sleep never hurts. When we get into bed at night, my tired mom brain craves sleep over sex.
When we do try sex, I need you to initiate. I know it’s hard when I never seem to be in the mood.
I promise to give it a chance for a little while to see if being intimate can get my engine started. (Hint: Foreplay and lube are your friends right now.)
It won’t work every time, but I will try for you.
Please try not to take it personally if I turn you down or need to stop.
Most of all, I need your patience and time.
It’s OK to tell me how you’re feeling so we can talk about it. You don’t have to try and hide it when you’re hurting.
I’m having a hard time with this too. Let’s be there for each other like we always are.
This will get better—I know it. We can get through it together. Just like babies get easier with time, there will be more sex in our future.
And no matter how difficult it feels right now, looking at our amazing baby makes the struggle worth it.
I’m always here for you.
A Note About Postpartum Depression
Low sex drive can be a symptom of postpartum depression so please speak with your doctor about any symptoms you’re experiencing.
For me, getting treatment for postpartum depression wasn’t a cure for low libido, but it is very important and can help with mood overall.
Postpartum healing after baby isn’t just about your physical body–there are a lot of mental and emotional changes happening too.
Stay strong, communicate with your partner, and know your post-baby sex life can get better in time!