Ah, new motherhood. You’re sleep deprived, overwhelmed, and your breasts are feeling more like feedbags than funbags. Sex? Yeah, right. Especially given that it was sex that got you into this mess in the first place!
Well, as much as it may feel like you’d be okay to never have sex again, your partner might not be so keen on that idea. And remember, you once liked the guy enough to make a baby together. Surely, there’s a spark at least smoldering in there somewhere for him.
But how do you go from smoldering to hot again?
There is no rule about when you should start having sex again. The postpartum period is a time of huge changes in your body, your hormones, your lifestyle, your sense of self and your relationship. Some women are ready for sex after six weeks, other six months. Don’t be hard on yourself -- you’ll know when you’re ready.
He can hardly know how you’re feeling about sex if you don’t tell him. And no, “Get your hands off me, it’s enough that the baby is sucking the life out of me without having you pawing at me,” is not considered effective communication (no matter how true it may feel). If you’re not feeling sexy, or if you're worried about pain, or you just want a foot rub, tell him. Assure him that you love him, but you need him to be patient with you right now and tune into your needs.
For some women, the sheer terror of getting pregnant again is enough to lock her knees shut. Give yourself one less thing to worry about by getting birth control. Some women don’t even realize they can still get pregnant while breastfeeding, but thankfully newer intrauterine devices (like the Mirena IUD) and progestin-only birth control pills are good choices since they don’t affect the quantity or the quality of the mother’s milk. Your six-week follow up appointment is a great opportunity to talk to our doctor about options.
If you’re not ready for sex, you can still be intimate. There are ways to stay physically connected that don’t involve penetration. Date nights, baths, tender kisses, and massages are all good ways to physically nurture each other until you’re ready to have intercourse again.
A lot of women feel like their body has been taken over by aliens after giving birth. Doing something nice for yourself – like getting a pedicure – will make you feel prettier, sexier, and like you may actually have ownership of your body again one day. A trip to the gym will not only make you feel better physically, the endorphins and adrenalin will help kickstart your libido. Also, feeling good about yourself will ultimately lead to a happier relationship with both your partner and your baby.
New fathers sometimes feel rejected when they realizes mom’s found a new first love – her baby. Make an effort to include him. For example, if you’re breastfeeding, you may want to invest in a breast pump so that you can fill bottles and let him feed and bond with the baby. And you’re free to go for that pedicure!