First of all, HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY to all of you Intimacy Advisor readers who have embarked on the amazing, life-changing journey that is motherhood! You deserve this special day to be all about you! If you have recently chosen to expand your family, though, or even if baby has been here awhile, you may find that your libido and love life aren’t exactly what they used to be. Try these six ideas to take your postpartum sex life from a far-off fantasy tale back to a steamy romance novel.
Make intimacy a priority:
As a new parent, sexual intimacy may be the last thing on your mind, and that’s OK. But it’s important to you and your partner that you still make time for those important moments of intimacy as a couple. On days when you’re not feeling up to sex or even particularly amorous, it’s still important to carve out some special time to be physically intimate with your partner, or to spend time on self-pleasure if you’re doing motherhood solo. While you may find that desire doesn’t come as often as it used to, and also that you’re constantly busy and exhausted, using any tiny moments to cuddle, kiss, spoon, or even just talk face-to-face, sans phones, can help you and your partner feel closer.
Don’t worry about it:
While it’s important to keep sex on your radar, it’s equally important not to stress about it if you’re not having as much, because that can make things worse. As Lisa Hochberger says in an article for Is This Normal, “I believe that the biggest problem that couples have with sex postpartum is making sex a problem. Life happens and our bodies change. This is not a problem. However, through our words and thoughts, we can quite literally manifest sexual problems.” It’s important to remember that, whether you’ve recently had a baby or not, all sex evolves over time. All humans always have different sexual needs and levels of desire month to month, so sex changing isn’t something to be afraid of. .
If you’re experiencing anxiety about pregnancy sex or your first time back to having sex after giving birth, talk to your partner and even your doctor about your feelings and fears; you may find that most of them are unfounded. The easiest way to quiet these concerns may be to take a page from Nike’s playbook and “just do it”. As Robin Milhausen, sex researcher & professor at the University of Guelph, says, “one good sexual experience can be very reparative.” In other words, try it, love it, enjoy it, keep coming back for more! If things still just don’t feel right or you’re having trouble connecting to your past sexual self, that’s OK too, says Milhausen. “You might need some more time and space.”
Accept your beautiful body:
Actually, “accept” may not be a strong enough word…you need to love your body…ALL of your body…even if you weren’t particularly crazy about your body before you became pregnant or had a baby. Take some time to practice some self-love and self-care…and yes, that includes getting some decent sleep and showering…even if you have to keep it quick. Admire yourself in the mirror when you strip down to take your 10 minute shower. Write down some affirmations that come to mind about how amazing and wonderful and powerful your body is, and repeat them to yourself out loud regularly. It’s also important to remember that your partner still finds you insanely hot…and it can be helpful if they remind you periodically, verbally or physically.
If your post-partum body leaves you longing for the past, just remind yourself that you created a HUMAN. That’s no simple feat, and it of course takes a toll on your own body…but that’s part of what is beautiful about it! Remember that, whether you’re a parent or not, most media is designed to make you feel badly about your body. Ditch the societal expectations and turn off those videos about how celebrities got their figures back after childbirth…most of those tactics are FAR from realistic for the average busy mom. Always keep in mind that there is no one type of body that is beautiful, and also that there are many types of bodies that are healthy and strong. Embrace your stretch marks and forgive your flaws; they are all part of the amazing story your body has been busy creating.
Make yourself comfortable:
Just like you probably needed a giant wrap-around body pillow to help you lay comfortably during pregnancy, your postpartum body may need a little extra support (and even some products) to help you achieve sex comfortably. After you’ve done all the things you used to do to get your space ready for sexytime (light candles, play soft music, dim the lights), it’s time to think about what positions will work for your body and how you can do them safely and comfortably.
Experiment with a lot of different options for sex positions, and modify, modify, MODIFY! Your partner should be happily willing to do everything they can to accommodate you. Try using what you have on hand – pillows, rolled up blankets, the edge of the bed or a chair – whatever seems to work for the position and comfort level you’re trying to achieve. You can also buy some purpose-built sex furniture or props from Liberator, and you’ll be able to enjoy them long after your pregnancy and post-baby needs. Check out their tips for the best postpartum sex positions using their shapes here.
Lay some ground rules:
If you’re nursing or pumping and just the thought of someone touching your boobs makes you think of that (or actually makes you squirt milk), tell your partner that your breasts are off limits for awhile. If you’re pregnant and can only get comfortable in certain positions for sex, let your lover know those are just the positions you have to stick to for a bit. Simply put, learn what works best for you and your lovemaking with the way your body feels right now, and clearly communicate to your partner what does and does not work for you.
There may be certain positions you used to love or things you liked to do that are simply a no-no for the time being, with your body going through its very natural and expected changes, and that’s fine. Don’t get disheartened; it doesn’t mean you’ll never be able to experience those things again! You just need to feel empowered to set some clear boundaries about what you can and cannot do sexually for now, and communicate those boundaries. Your need for a comfortable and pleasurable experience is valid and important, and your partner should be happy to respect the ground rules you set so you can keep enjoying sex during pregnancy, nursing, or any stage of your recovery from giving birth. You did the hard work of growing a human; you deserve sex that works for you!
Consider a change of scenery:
Many new parents sleep with their baby in the room with them. This is a lovely setup for middle of the night feedings and snuggle sessions to soothe a teething tot, but it can make any thoughts of sex go right out the window for some couples. “Some people can’t imagine having sex in the same room their baby is in”, says Vancouver midwife Alix Bacon.
If your bedroom has become a No-zone due to a cohabitating newborn, use it as a chance to be a little more adventurous with your venues for adult playtime. Try a steamy makeout session on the couch that’s sure to lead to more, or even see what you can cook up in the kitchen…those countertops may come in handy for some sexy new positions. Switching things up might be just what you need to reignite the fires of passion after baby’s bedtime.
Now, throw a sheet over you, lock the door to any wandering toddlers, and go really celebrate your love on your special day!