My “Momma Tribe” was a diverse group of women from all over the city. We were ten first-time Mommas that gathered weekly for a couple of hours to support each other in the hard work of mothering.
This group of live and local Mommas differed from each other in lots of ways, but our kids were close enough in age that we could ask questions and get answers on the topics that mattered most to us at the time: “What does mastitis feel like?” “When are you going to introduce solids?” “Has your baby rolled over yet?”
“Are you guys having sex yet?”
It was that last question that I was most interested in after having my first baby. I was young and had a healthy sex drive before my daughter was born. But after? I felt like when it came to sex, I could take it or leave it! I was worried that I’d never have a sex drive again, and it was so helpful to hear from other Mommas that I wasn’t the only one who felt this way.
Flash forward, a year or so after our group had formed, and imagine us all dressed up for a dinner party — without children or our partners! We’d looked forward to this for weeks. An adult gathering where we could have cocktails instead of our usual caffeine… and actual conversations uninterrupted by having to trail after a toddler, wipe a butt, or scoop up a wailing baby.
I remember grabbing a glass of wine and coming back from the kitchen to a chorus of, “I KNOW!” “It’s the same at our house, too!” “That’s all he wants, all the time!”
The question that caused all the commotion was, “How much sex are you guys having? I swear, if we had it twice a week, he’d want it three times a week!”
I said, “Wait a minute… Are you guys mad that your partners want to have sex with you? Am I missing something? I’m not exactly back to my pre-pregnant figure just yet… and he tells me that I’m really hot and he wants to have sex ALL the time! Shouldn’t we be happy about that?!”
The discussion that followed made me realize that it wasn’t that these women weren’t into having sex, it’s just that the sex they’d been having wasn’t the right kind of sex now that they were Mommas.
My husband likes to tell this joke: “Sex is like pizza. Even bad pizza is still pretty good pizza.”
But that’s just not true. We’ve all had good sex and bad sex before, and the two are nothing alike. Life is short, people! And no one should believe that bad sex is just what happens after you’ve had a baby.
Here are a few things that you might not have considered that can take your so-so sex life post-baby and turn it into potentially the best sex of your life.
1) Don’t believe the hype!
Everyone tells you that after you have a baby, your sex life will never be the same. And for the most part, they’re right. But don’t believe all the hype!
It’s true that you probably won’t have as many opportunities to engage in late-night trysts, or sleep-in sex. Why? Because you have a baby now, and sleep sounds really good if you’re little one still gets up in the middle of the night. And waking at 8 am for some sexy time, then sleeping in until noon, will probably only happen on those occasions when you leave your baby for a weekend get-away while Grandma & Grandpa are in town.
Just because your sex life will be different, doesn’t necessarily mean that it can’t be good. In fact, I believe your sex life can be better than ever before! But first, you have to reject the cultural myth that having babies ruins your sex life and believe that something else is possible.
2) Make sure to schedule a pelvic floor physical therapy appointment.
No matter how your baby came into this world, your pelvis bore a lot of extra weight during your pregnancy and if you had a vaginal birth, or if there was an episiotomy or tearing of the vaginal tissues, there’s likely a need for professional assessment.
This can go a very long way in increasing your sexual pleasure postpartum and a visit to a PT who specializes in the pelvic floor, should be something that every postpartum Momma does for herself within that 4th trimester (first 12 weeks postpartum).
This idea is gaining traction, but there are still those who believe if there’s pain or numbness or things just feel different “down there,” that this is just what happens after you have a baby. But that doesn’t have to be true for you. There’s a lot that can be done to help you heal properly and make your post-baby sex life more comfortable and enjoyable. Get yourself checked out!
3) Get really clear with how you communicate about sex.
You need to be able to tell your partner what feels good and what doesn’t; what’s off-limits (breasts, as an example, for a lot of nursing Mommas!) and what’s fair play; do you only want to make out? cuddle on the couch? or are you ready for the “Full Monty?”
Being clear in your communication does more than set boundaries for yourself and your partner, it has the potential to really spice things up in the bedroom! If you haven’t been very directive in your sexual relationship up to this point, letting your partner know what you like and what works for you will lead to better sex for both of you. Remember, the goal in a loving relationship is for everyone to enjoy the sex they’re having. Even if it’s working for you, it’s not as satisfying when you know your partner is not enjoying themselves, or worse — you feel like they’re having sex out of a sense of duty.
4) Sexual organs for partners and Mommas are pretty different.
You might be thinking to yourself, “Duh? A penis and a vagina are really different! What are you talking about?!”
I hate to get all Mars & Venus on you, but in this case, especially after having a baby, it’s not all about the vagina. (Actually… it’s probably never been all about the vagina!) But now that she’s a Momma? What I’m getting at can be best described through this impromptu dramatic scene:
Fade in: New parents are in the bathroom together brushing their teeth in preparation for going to sleep.
Partner (with a mouth full of toothpaste sees new Momma changing into her nightgown): “You mook so hot in dat mighty! Damn, gurl!”
Momma (totally frazzled, not paying any attention, spits into the sink and whisper-yells): “Shhhhhhh! Did you just hear the baby? Was that the baby waking up??????”
Fade out. And… Scene.
As a new Momma, the brain is on high alert — ALL.THE.DAMN.TIME! She is biologically programmed to free up at least 2/3 of her brain to pay full attention to her children — so they don’t die. It’s a really great system for the continuation of the species, but it sucks when it comes to doing the thing that is necessary for creating the species in the first place!
The most important sexual organ for a woman after she becomes a Momma is:
Say what?! Yep, it’s true. If her brain can’t settle down long enough for her to be in the moment — not thinking about what she’s got planned on the calendar the next day, or worried about what that weird rash is on her baby’s butt, or feeling self-conscious about her jiggly bits — there’s no way in hell she’s going to be able to locate an orgasm. It just isn’t going to happen.
Listen, I love the brain. I think it’s super rad that it does so many things behind the scenes to keep us alive — but let’s face it, sometimes, you just wish it would shut up so that you could stop processing ALL.THE.THINGS. and get onto the good stuff! Like orgasms and such.
As a new Momma, she’s going to need your help turning her brain off, so that her body can get turned on.
How do you do that?
Engage her in conversation soon after you walk in the door, or throughout the day via a quick phone call or a text exchange. Let her know by the questions you ask that you genuinely care about how her day has gone. Sometimes the best processing can be done earlier in the day, or even with a glass of wine over dinner, and then she’s not thinking about it when you head off to bed. Meaningful conversation is a new Momma’s greatest aphrodisiac. For reals.
5) Don’t forget that sensuality is a basic human need — without touch, we die.
Partners are completely blown away by the fact that the newly postpartum Momma is not up and ready for sex at six weeks — because that’s what all the books say should be happening, right?!
That six-week mark only refers to receiving the green light from the provider at the first postpartum appointment that she is physically ready to resume sex: her bleeding has stopped, any tears or stitches in her vaginal tissues have healed, etc.
But that doesn’t mean that she feels emotionally ready to have sex again. Read this to understand all of the reasons why there might be a delay in her emotional readiness…
Maybe, as the partner, you’ve gotten the message… You’re patient and letting her lead the way on this one. You can wait until she’s ready — both physically and emotionally.
But there’s this weird thing happening to you… Not only are you not having any sex, she’s not touching you at all. You can’t recall the last time you kissed or even held hands. In fact, you can’t even remember the last time you sat close enough to one another so that you touched accidentally.
When partners are interviewed about postpartum sex (or lack, thereof) it is the physical intimacy of touch that they miss, more than the sex itself.
Sensuality is an important human need. If children are denied physical touch, even if given food and water, they’ll die. All of us need that physical connection to others and too many partners go without it in the postpartum period.
Why does it happen?
Because too many Mommas are over-concerned about sending mixed messages. We’ve been raised to hate the idea of being a “tease” — so what do we do? We stop giving our partner kisses, we stop grabbing their butt as they walk by, we sit three feet away from them on the couch when we’re watching a movie together. This is all done in an effort to avoid having an honest, real and vulnerable discussion about not being ready… about our worries that sex might hurt… about not loving our postpartum bodies… about things feeling different than they did before.
In order to have the best sex of your lives, you need to do more than acknowledge your feelings of vulnerability around the topic of postpartum sex – you need to embrace them.
Initially, we need to be patient and have realistic expectations about postpartum sex and realize that it might take time for her to heal physically, and her emotional readiness needs to be able to taken into account as well.
But if you try to be open, honest and vulnerable with one another this creates intimacy.
Intimacy leads to trust, which leads to feeling safe and secure in your relationship with one another, which leads to a desire to be with one another and share in each other’s lives, which leads to thoughtfulness (incredibly sexy to new parents!), which leads to deeper emotional connection, which leads to deeper physical connection, which leads to some of the best sex of your life!
Don’t buy in to the hype: your sex life will be different, but it helps if you believe it can be even better!
Make an appointment early on with a pelvic floor PT: having a professional assess that you are healing properly can make a huge difference! We want sex to be pleasurable, so we need to make sure we’ve done all that we can to make that happen.
Let’s talk about sex, baby: get clear in your communication about sex — if you’re not ready, say so — but make sure to explain why. Set clear boundaries about what you want and don’t want, and until you are ready to get back to it, be very clear in what your physical touch means so that your partner knows what to expect and how to respond.
Turn off your brain, so you can turn on your body: Make sure to have meaningful conversations about your day-to-day with your partner so that you feel connected and on the same page. This makes it easier to get warmed up in the bedroom.
Increase the amount of time put in for warming things up: her desire is no longer a sparked match… it’s more like the beginnings of a campfire — it needs kindling and attention for the flames to finally ignite. If there is more foreplay, you’ll have more sex and better sex. Period.
Lastly… don’t forget to inebriate and lubricate! I’m kind of joking about the inebriate part, but a glass of wine can go a long way in lessening a new Mommas postpartum inhibitions. Just don’t go overboard! I’m NOT joking about the lubricate part! Vaginal dryness is a common issue postpartum, especially if you’re breastfeeding. We want this to be as comfortable as possible, so don’t skimp and buy the crappy lube from the drugstore. Find a store that sells a variety of quality lubricants to choose from — bonus if they have a sample pack you can buy to decide which one works best for you!
Sex after babies is different than it was before — but it can be so much better, and mean so much more, when you focus on building intimacy through vulnerability.
And because we could all use a little sexual healing after we become parents, check out this video circa 1982. It’s soooooo bad, it’s good.