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Sex After Baby

There are a lot of factors that greatly hinder (or even kill) your sex life after you’ve had a baby. It is a time of great transition and that change (along with unbelievable exhaustion and untimely interruptions) makes it very difficult for a couple to “pick up where they left off” or even return to the way things used to be in their sex life. But sex is a key part of your relationship and an essential part of your marriage, so whatever challenges you are facing, don’t give up, be intentional about communicating with your spouse, proactive in finding solutions, and be patient when things don’t work out as you had hoped.

Everyone’s situation is different, which means there cannot be a one-size-fits-all solution or formula for rejuvenating your sex life postpartum, but here are some ideas and suggestions to get you started, first starting with common problems and ideas for overcoming them, followed by additional tips and ideas that may be helpful to you during this time.

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Problem #1: Your Partner is Ready, but You’re Not

It is inevitable that your partner is going to be ready and wanting sex long before you are fully recovered from the birth. And even after your body has healed enough for sex to be a viable option, still, your hormones, energy levels, and many demands from your baby can often make even the thought of sex very daunting and frightening for a new mother.  

What to Try:

* Be Considerate of Your Partner’s Feelings and Needs

Understand that sex for him is more than just a desire, but is a real emotional need. Just as you need him to be tender and considerate of your feelings, he needs you to be affectionate and physically affirming to him. Consider reading the books “For Women Only” or “Mars and Venus in the Bedroom” to help put things into perspective and help you gain a deeper insight for you about what your husband needs from you. A fresh realization of why your husband needs sex will make it easier for you to be caring and considerate of his position.

* Consider Alternatives to Intercourse

Keep in mind that your man is very sensitive to rejection. Your rejection of sex can easily be interpreted as a rejection of HIM. So if you really feel like intercourse is not yet an option for you, make sure to be very clear in communicating to your partner that it is not HIM that you are opposed to, but that you do not feel like your body is physically ready yet. For you, it may be enough to just hug, kiss, and cuddle for a while. This simple form of affection can help you feel close and connected to your partner. But you need to remember that it is not necessarily the same with him, no amount of hugs, kisses, or cuddling will satisfy his deepest emotional needs. With that in mind, make it a priority to stretch yourself and touch him in sensual ways. Make it clear that you are not ready for intercourse, but that you still want to please him and give him the sexual release that he needs.

* Give Yourself 5 Minutes

With the extra pregnancy weight you just don’t feel sexy. With a newborn latched to your breast most of the day you don’t feel much like being touched. In addition to this you feel more crashing on your pillow and going right to sleep instead of engaging in a sport that demands energy that you just don’t seem to have these days. Instead of turning down your husbands request, why not try saying yes, but with the condition that he give you 5 minutes all to yourself?! Then go off and do a little pampering and prep to help put you in the mood. Brush your hair, put on a different nightgown (or something that makes you feel more attractive), apply a little make up (or at the very least some chapstick), put on some perfume, wash your face, take a few deep breaths, get a drink of water, light a candle . . . whatever you need to do to refresh and find your second wind. And don’t worry about your husband, you can be sure he won’t mind waiting if he knows you’ll be worth waiting for.

* Use Essential Oils

There are many essential oils that can help you feel rejuvenated, energized, and “in the mood”. Some of my favorites include: Lemon (energizing), Ylang-Ylang (promotes self-esteem), Clove Bud (mental clarity), Clary Sage (hormone balance and self-confidence), and Juniper Berry (arouse desire for intimacy). Each of these oils help in a different way, but in combination they can really do a lot to help energize and put you in the mood for sex. You don’t need to apply them, just inhale deeply and smell their aroma, or put a couple drops of each in a diffuser.  

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Problem #2: You Can’t Wait Six Weeks

Even before the six weeks are over, you just can’t wait to get back into the swing of things. Your body may not be completely healed or physically ready for intercourse, but your mind and emotions are going crazy with desire.  

What to Try:

* Talk to Your Doctor or Midwife

It is always wise to consult the advice of your doctor or midwife if you’re wanting ti resume having sex before the six week mark. If you had a lot of tearing, a c-section, or are still experiencing postpartum bleeding, you may still be at risk of infection. It is always best to get an okay from your physician before proceeding.

If your practitioner is concerned and advises against intercourse, you and your partner can still engage in manual stimulation without penetration.

If your practitioner gives the okay, it’s still a good idea to take things slow. Consider using the woman-on-top position at first to give you more control so you can enjoy sex with as little pain as possible.

* Have a “Re-Discovery” Session

Your body has been through a lot of changes and you and your partner have been physically “disconnected” for a while. Just take some time to explore each other’s bodies with the mutual understanding that this little “discovery session” is not leading to sex. Even if it is safe for you to resume sex, this mutual understanding can really help to take the pressure off and help you just to enjoy intimacy without feeling like it has to go anywhere (and you’re always welcome to change your mind half way through if you like – your husband won’t mind).

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Problem #3: The Delayed Reaction

If you have already resumed having sex, but then after a few times of intercourse you suddenly feel like your body is opposed to it, this is a “delayed reaction”.

What to Try:

* Communicate With Your Partner.

Communication is key! Your partner is going to be under the impression that once you start having sex again everything can just go back to normal and be the way it was before, it can be very confusing and frustrating for him if one moment he thinks your back and able to have sex and the next moment the wall of rejection is erected again. Whatever the reason (hormones, discomfort, exhaustion) be sure to communicate with your partner and let him know what’s going on.

* Experiment

Browse through the list of tips and suggestions at the bottom on this article and just try different things to see if any of them help.

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Problem #4: Sex Doesn’t Feel the Same

Your body has been through a lot of changes with pregnancy and childbirth, so it really is no surprise if sex feels different to you.

What to Try:

* Kegel Exercises

Your vagina has been stretched a lot during childbirth and nothing will help it get back to normal as quickly as Kegel exercises.

* Embrace the New You

Instead of comparing everything to how it used to be, focus instead of finding delight in the way things are now. Sure things are different, and most of the changes are not likely things you like or find sexy, but instead of focusing on your stretch marks, extra weight, etc, look instead for things that you do like about your body and focus your attention on drawing out your good features. Do you have long hair? Try different ways of styling it. If you don’t like your big thighs, try wearing anklets to draw attention to the thinnest part of your legs instead. Pick a feature you like and focus your attention on that instead of on the features you don’t like. Confidence is sexy! If you can find yourself attractive and feel confident in your new body, your husband is going to find your confidence attractive and won’t even notice any of your physical flaws.  

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Problem #5: Sex is Painful

Hormone changes after childbirth will cause vaginal dryness and a thinning of the vaginal lining. You may also still be sore from childbirth. Even though six weeks may be the typical time of healing before it is safe to resume sex, it can continue to take several more weeks, and even several more months, before your body is completely healed from the childbirth ordeal and it can take 6 months to a year before you feel like your old self again.

What to Try:

* Use Lots of Lubricant!

Vaginal dryness is one of the main causes for painful intercourse. This can be avoided by using a quality lubricant.

* Try the Woman-on-Top Position

This position for having sex gives you more control so you can decide how hard or deep to penetrate during intercourse for as painless an experience as possible.

* Give it More Time

Depending on your birthing experience it can take several months to completely heal. If the pain you have is a result of an irritated c-section, stitches, or tearing, give yourself another week or two before trying again.

* Use a Healing Salve

I am a big fan of the Paladin Ointment it is (in my opinion) the very best! Yes, it’s true that it is designed to be an infants diaper rash cream, but what works for baby is also really great for mom. It brings quick relief to itching, stinging pain, and irritation and helps to promote and speed up the healing process.

* Rule Out Infections

If sex is really painful you may want to see your doctor and consider whether you may have an infection of some kind or to check if something isn’t quite healing right.

* Take Herbal Supplements

Whether there’s an infection or not, I find that any time sex is painful it can be really helpful to take supplements such as Odorless Garlic or Oregano. They can help fight an infection (both bacterial and fungal) if you have one, but they also just help promote general health and are very helpful in treating conditions that cause vaginal itching or excessive irritation.

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Problem #6: Body-Consciousness

It takes two months or more for your uterus to return to its normal size and it can take up to a year or more to lose the added pregnancy weight. Add to that stretch-marks, scars, enlarged breasts, and a different landscape to your vagina, and it’s no wonder you feel like you’re inhabiting someone else’s body.

What to Try:

* Give Yourself a Pep Talk.

Seriously, your body has a lot of demand on it right now, besides the fact that you just produced another human being and brought a new life into the world, that little miracle is also completely dependent on you. During the course of 9 months, a little life has been growing inside of you, through sweat and tears you brought that child out into the world, and now you sustain that child every day through the nourishment of your body. It is a priceless and precious miracle that God is performing through your body. Your partner is marveling and impressed by it all, and you should be too. Sure your body is different now than it was, but that doesn’t make it any less beautiful, it just makes it beautiful in different ways.

* Exercise

This may seem like the last thing you want to do, but exercising is really a great way to give yourself a boost of self-confidence and help you feel better about yourself. If you can be proactive in taking little steps towards getting your body back into shape you’ll find it much easier to combat the “postpartum blues” by thinking ahead to the joy of having a great body again rather than wallowing in despair over the condition of your body right now.

* Use Ylang-Ylang

Anytime you find yourself criticizing your body or glaring at yourself in the mirror, just pull out that bottle of Ylang-Ylang Essential Oil and take a couple deep breaths to inhale the scent. Ylang-Ylang is one of the best essential oils for promoting positive thinking, and will give you that needed boost of self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-acceptance.

* Take Vitamin D

Even after you’ve had your baby you should still be taking your prenatal (now postnatal) vitamins. Your body is still supporting two people and you need to make sure you’re getting all the nutrients you need for the job. You should especially be sure that you’re getting enough Vitamin D (especially if it’s winter, or you don’t have much chance for being out in the sun). Taking at least 4,000 IU of Vitamin D supplements every day can help a lot to chase away postpartum depression, which can be one of the reasons why you’re feeling extra self-conscious or dissatisfied with your body.  

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Problem #7: Your Breasts are Tender or Leaking

If your breasts are sore, heavy, or prone to leaking, it can be a real distraction or turn-off for you during sex.

What to Try:

* Wear a Nursing Bra or Tank Top

Wearing a top of some kind can help give needed support to heavy breasts and can catch the flow of milk in the case of leakage.

* Nurse or Pump Before Sex

If your breasts tend to leak a lot during sex you may want to consider nursing or using a breast pump before sex so that your breasts will not be as full.

* Bring a Hand Towel to Bed

Oxytocin is the hormone that helps you feel close and intimate with your partner, but it is also the same hormone that encourages the production of milk in the breasts and the ejection (or letdown) reflux. Which means, the more fun you have with your partner the more likely your breasts are to leak or spray milk. So keep a small towel close at hand for quick clean up.

* Communicate with Your Partner

Let your partner know if you would prefer your breasts to be covered or left alone, or whatever other preferences you have regarding your breasts. For some women they don’t mind the breast being touched so long as the nipples are left alone. For other women they find it pleasant to just have their husband cup his hand under the breast, helping to support the extra weight of the breast without much stimulation. Whatever you find you want or don’t want regarding the handling of the breasts, be sure to communicate it with your partner. But also take time to hear his perspective. You may be surprised to find that something that you thought was extremely embarrassing or annoying is actually enjoyable or sexy to him. You never know unless you ask.  

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Problem #8: Just Too Tired

Exhaustion is a common problem after having a baby. Even if you feel like you want or desire sex, half way in you realize that you’re just way too tired to continue.

What to Try:

* Use Essential Oils

Essential oils are one thing that works directly with the energy levels of your body. There are many essential oils that can help you feel rejuvenated, energized, and “in the mood”. Some of my favorites include: Lemon (energizing), Ylang-Ylang (promotes self-esteem), Clove Bud (mental clarity), Clary Sage (hormone balance and self-confidence), and Juniper Berry (arouse desire for intimacy). Each of these oils help in a different way, but in combination they can really do a lot to help energize and put you in the mood for sex. You don’t need to apply them, just inhale deeply and smell their aroma, or put a couple drops of each in a diffuser.   

* Give Yourself 5 Minutes

Ask your partner for 5 minutes of “wake-me-up” time. Steal away for 5 minutes alone, go and splash some water on your face, do a few jumping jacks, change into a lacy silky night gown, dab on some perfume or make-up . . . do whatever you need to in order to wake yourself up and find the mood again for sex. Your partner will be more than willing to wait if he knows you’ll come back refreshed and in the mood for making out.

* Don’t Take it Too Slow

When your tired and exhausted that is not the time to move at a snails pace hoping to become fully aroused and erotic. Pillow fights, wrestling matches, fast and furious sex, these are more appropriate for the setting since they will tap into your energy reserve and release the adrenaline needed to help you overcome the feeling of exhaustion.

* Try Different Times of the Day

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that sex always has to happen in the evenings. By evening time you are worn out from the days activities and too tired to even think about sex. Why not make it the first thing you do in the morning? Or, if you’re not a morning person, how about an afternoon romp? What time of day do you have the most amount of energy? Make it a date with your partner to have sex at that time (even if it means getting a sitter for the baby if your baby doesn’t usually sleep at that hour).

* Problem Solve Together

Tell your husband, “I’m really tired but I also really want to have sex with you”. Then do some creative problem solving together. Be open to suggestions he has and work together at finding a way to get you energized again.

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Problem #9: Baby Interruptions

Babies have a tendency of waking up and crying at the most inconvenient of times. While your partner may be encouraging you to just ignore the baby for a few more minutes, your mothering instincts just won’t allow you to, no matter how hard you try. A baby’s cry can be an instant sex-killer.

What to Try:

* Make Nap-Time Your Sex-Time

It doesn’t take long for a baby to begin setting some kind of sleeping routine. Pay attention to the time of day in which your baby is most likely to sleep for longer periods of time and then make it a date with your partner to have a time of intimacy at the time when your baby is asleep. If your evening lovemaking is always interrupted by baby cries, try middle of the day, or middle of the night, or early mornings. . . .whatever hour your baby is most likely to be sleeping heavily, make that your time for intimacy.

* Put the Baby in a Different Room

Even if the baby doesn’t wake up, just it’s little movements, grunts, or sleeping noises can be a real distraction to your highly tuned senses and mommy instincts. Put the baby down in a separate room and put on some music to drowned out any baby noises that may interrupt your time together.

* Be Flexible

If the baby wakes up in the middle of love making, don’t accept it as a canceling of your lovemaking session, but insist on collecting a rain-check. If you try to make your baby fit into your lovemaking schedule you will become frustrated. Instead, let your baby set the schedule, and when your child finally goes to sleep take advantage of that time for just the two of you. Make intimacy a priority, your household chores can wait!

* Keep a Sense of Humor

Sometimes there’s just nothing you can do about the interruptions. Instead of getting frustrated, try for a good laugh and a promise of trying again later (but not too much later!)

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Problem #10: Too Many Demands on My Body

New mothers often feel stressed by all the demands for their bodies. Baby wants constant holding and nursing, husband wants intimacy and sex, if you have older kids they have their own demands for being held or hugged or coddled, etc. When a woman gets so caught up in meeting the physical needs of her baby and husband, she looses touch with herself and suddenly “intimacy” feels more like a duty or something you have to do for your partner that you lose sight of your own desires and what sex has to offer for you!

What to Try:

* Give Yourself Transition Time

When you go straight from nursing to love making it’s common to feel out of touch with your body and simply go through the actions of pleasing your husband out of duty and obligation instead of for the joy and thrill of it. Make it a priority to give yourself a little transition time. Before getting in bed next to your husband, give yourself a few minutes to reconnect with your body. Take a shower or hot bath. Dab on some make up or perfume. Put on a nightgown that reflects your mood. Paint your nails.

* Communicate!

Your husband doesn’t want loving making to feel like an obligation to you anymore than you do, but when he sees that the baby is finally asleep his first thought is “let’s take advantage of the time we’ve got together”, he’s not realizing that you need some “me time” first in order to switch out of “mommy mode” and rediscover your identity as a woman and wife.

Make sure your husband understands why this time of transition is important for you. If you he understands that you need a few minutes to transition from “grungy mama” to “sexy wife”, he will support you in it. Most husbands will be more than happy to take the baby for a while in the evenings if they know their sexy wife will reemerge at the end of that time (and as a result of that time). Make the end results memorable for your partner and you can be sure he’ll be willing to help out again next time.

* Keep Up Your Appearance

With all the dirty diapers, leaking breast milk, baby spit up, and numerous other ”messes” that come with being a new mom it’s no wonder so many women give up on personal grooming and no longer put much effort into their appearances. But giving up on your appearances and personal grooming is the first step in losing connection with yourself. Give yourself a couple weeks after the birth to laze around in your Pj’s and go for days without brushing your hair, but don’t let that become the new you. Once you’re up and moving about the house again it’s time to get back into caring for yourself and caring what you look like again. If you can’t have clean clothes (due to baby messes) at the very least have clean and styled hair or nicely trimmed and painted nails. If you can’t wear a necklace because the baby grabs at it, consider wearing bracelets or stud earrings instead. If you feel “gypped” by having to wear nursing bras all the time, balance it out by wearing extra sexing panties as a reminder that there’s still a secret “sexy you” hiding behind the “mom disguise”.

* Pamper Yourself

I know, what new mom has time for pampering?! But seriously, there are so many mom’s complaining that they are depressed, overwhelmed, frustrated, stressed, exhausted, and moody . . . Do you really think you’re doing your family a lot of good by burning yourself out taking care of them? If you’re not happy, they’re not going to be happy either. So do your family a big favor and take some time every so often to do something that will be relaxing, refreshing, and rejuvenating to you. It can be as simple as doing your nails, or more elaborate as a bubble bath with candles. Have you ever had a massage? Now’s a good time to get one! Or take a little of the cash gifts you got at the baby shower and go buy yourself a new set of lingerie. Are you confined to the home? Buy the lingerie online or invite a friend over to help you do your nails. Hire a babysitter for the afternoon and hide out in your room with a good book. Be creative! It doesn’t have to be complicated, expensive, or time consuming, but just making it a priority to get a little time each week for self care and a little pampering can make a world of a difference for you and your family!

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Additional Tips and Ideas:

* Communicate with Your Partner

I know I’ve been saying this all along, but I really cannot stress it enough. Both you and your partner are experiencing a great many stresses and frustrations regarding sex and intimacy. You may feel at times like he could never possibly understand what you’re going through (and you’re probably right), but he understands that it’s hard, and guess what? It’s hard on him too, in different ways. Whether you feel it or not, the two of you are in this together . . . communicate, communicate, communicate!

* Get Out of the “Mommy Rut”

It is a tendency for mothers to get so caught up in meeting the needs of their babies that they neglect themselves. When they get dressed they’re not thinking about what would be attractive, but rather what would be most comfortable or easiest for nursing in. Instead of nice smelling perfumes they’re wearing the scent of their baby. Instead of jewelry and make-up they’re wearing baby spit-up. It’s hard to feel in the mood for sex when your caught in the “mommy rut”.

Get out of the old flannel t-shirt and put on a nice nightgown. Wash off the baby spit-up and dab on some perfume. Take time to pamper yourself a little and dress in a way that would catch your husbands eye. Remember, being a mom is your calling and “job”, but being a woman and a wife, that’s your identity!

* Pamper Yourself

Now is the perfect time to go out and get a manicure or buy some new lingerie. You are not the same person you were before the delivery, so take some time to rediscover your new body and to find ways to help yourself feel more comfortable and confident in the body you have now. You may also consider enrolling in a gym class or exercise program, sitting around mourning the loss of your perfect figure will only make you depressed, but being intentional about getting your body back into shape will help you feel a lot better as a whole.

* Talk About It

If you and your husband are utterly exhausted and just don’t have the energy for sex, how about just laying in each others arms and simply talking about what you would like to do if only you had the energy. As you each take turns sharing your fantasies, you may find an ounce or two of energy to put to good use. Encouraging your mind to think about sex can stimulate your hormones to give a little adrenaline for that very purpose. But even if it doesn’t lead anywhere physically, you’re at least connecting on an emotional level and sharing a special bonding time together.

* Get Out of Bed

Ever since having your baby it seems like the moment you hit the bed you’re immediately aware of how exhausted you are. Since the bed is where you do your sleeping it makes sense that your mind would immediately think of sleep when you climb into bed. So why not try other locations for sex, locations that won’t remind you of how tired you are? All you need is a little space and a little privacy and that exists in other places besides just the bedroom. Be creative!

* Have a Glass of Wine (or even just a sip)

Loosen up, unwind, and de-stress with a little wine. Don’t drink too much (especially if you’re nursing) but just take enough to loosen up and relax a little. Then cuddle up next to your husband on the couch, maybe watch a short comedy show, share a few laughs, exchange a few kisses, lean in for a deeper passionate kiss and just see where it leads.

* Massage

Try a full body massage for a complete de-stressing before engaging in intimacy, or even just a simple foot massage to help you unwind. Exchanging massages as a couple can be very exciting and highly erotic. Make sure to put on some relaxing music in the background and maybe a candle or two if you like that.

* Reserve Some of Your Energy

If sex isn’t “just happening” for you as a couple, then you may need to actually put it in your schedule and make it a priority in your day. Keep in mind that your relationship with your husband is more important than any household chores you may have. So as you’re going about your day, keep in mind that some of your energy needs to be saved for later so that you will have some energy left in reserve for after the kids are asleep and you have time to engage with your husband.

If you’re breastfeeding, remember that while it doesn’t take any conscious effort on your part, providing nourishment for your baby is still a chore you do that requires a great deal of energy. The energy your body uses to produce milk for your baby is the same as if you had spent the entire day in the kitchen baking bread. If having energy in the evenings requires you taking a nap in the afternoon than do it. Having energy to invest in your marriage and with your husband is more important than having a clean house or being caught up with the laundry. Save the best of your energy for your man!

* Be Intimate All the Time

Don’t let sex be your only form of intimacy. That alone will make your relationship stale and will make sex feel more like a chore than a thrill. Engage in intimacy all the time. Go on walks as a family and hold hands with your partner. Hug each other often. Kiss frequently (and not just a peck either!). Sit next to each other at every opportunity, but don’t just sit next to your partner, sit close to your partner (try putting your hand on his thigh for some added heat). Express your love in many different ways throughout the day, through words, actions, notes, text messages, looks, physical touch . . . The more loving and intimate you are throughout the day the easier (and more pleasurable) it will be to come together intimately at night.

* Assure Your Partner (and yourself) That This Stage is Only for a Time

Having a baby creates a difficult strain on your sex life, but if you are willing to keep trying and keep focusing on finding ways to work through the added strains and blocks to intimacy, you can be sure that in time you will break through this stage and find yourself on the other side. It may even surprise you how quickly you suddenly break through. This struggle is only for a time, and you need to be patient and keep reminding yourself of that. But don’t expect it to happen on its own, keep working together as a couple to sort through the different struggles you encounter. Togetherness and intentionality are the keys to opening the door to intimacy again.

* Just do it!

For many women the longer she goes without having sex the harder it will be to get back into the groove. If this may be true for you then don’t wait for the desire to come back before you start engaging in sex again. Just do it. The first few times you may do it for no other reason than to please your partner, that’s okay! The more intentional you are about having sex, the more you will be inclined to it, the more you’ll be thinking about it, the more you’ll discover those hidden desires within you, and the sooner you will find that your appetite for sex has returned. So stop making excuses for why you don’t want to have sex and just go ahead and do it. See it as an investment, you pay into it now with the hope of a good return later.