You’re thrilled to be a mom and bursting with love for your baby and your partner. Yet when it comes to sex, you’re not as passionate about intimacy as you once were.
And guess what? Your guy probably isn’t either.
According to a recent survey by UK company Kegel8, after having a baby, 44 percent of women are nervous about having sex for the first time and 20 percent of men have trouble initiating sex.
So whether it’s your first or your fifth baby, find out why you and your man might be struggling in the sack and what you can do to make things hot again.
Why sex isn’t the same.
You go to your six-week postpartum checkup and get the green light from your doctor, but the first time you try to do the deed, it’s uncomfortable, painful and probably a little awkward.
“There’s this idea that everything’s going to be just fine and that’s not the case,” said Lauren Streicher, a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist and an associate clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
During labor, tears, stiches and all that stretching can change the pelvic floor, causing pain and bladder control problems— even during sex.
If you’re breast-feeding, your body has high prolactin levels— which lower libido— and low estrogen levels— which can cause vaginal dryness, painful sex and a lackluster sexual response.
“Your hormones and your vagina turn into that of a menopausal woman,” said sex and relationship educator and therapist Dr. Laura Berman, author of “Loving Sex and host of Uncovered Radio.
For mothers of newborns, a lowered desire for sex, combined with sleepless nights and generally feeling overwhelmed allows sex to easily be neglected.
In fact, only 41 percent of women tried to have vaginal sex by the six week mark, according to a study in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
Plus, the extra weight, stretch marks, loose skin and leaky breasts, don’t help you feel confident or sexy, which can affect your partner, too.
“There’s this feeling of, ‘What happened to the sexual being that used to be in my bed?’” Streicher said.
Although experts say watching the birth won’t turn your guy off from sex, it might cause him anxiety, especially if sex is uncomfortable or painful for you.
“It can take a while for [him] to see that area as sexy again,” Berman said.
While it will take time for sex to be great again, here are some things you can do in the meantime.
See your gyno.
Six months after you stop breastfeeding, if you’re still experiencing pain or discomfort or your hormones seem awry, make an appointment with your doctor. She can rule out a medical condition and prescribe pelvic floor physical therapy if necessary.
A silicone-based lube is more slippery, lasts longer and is less irritating, which can help with vaginal dryness, Streicher said.
The biggest adjustment for couples, according to Berman, is that sex becomes less spur-of-the-moment.
“Once you have a kid, if you wait for it to happen spontaneously, you’re usually waiting a very long time,” she said.
Put it on your calendar at least once a week and if it happens on a whim other times, even better!
Bring your sexy back.
It’s really easy to forget that there’s a sexy woman underneath those sweatpants, which is why it’s a good idea to make time every week to meet your friends (sans kids), exercise or spend solo time with your partner.
“It keeps the romantic and sexual connection going if each of you together—and apart continue to feed your roles as man and woman and not just parents,” Berman said.
Make it a priority.
Even if you’re not in the mood, it’s important not to lose sight of sex. Here’s why: Talking, kissing and cuddling might be enough for you, but your guy needs sex to feel the love. He might understand intellectually why you’re not in the mood, but if he is not feeling loved and emotionally connected to you as he did in the past, over time it causes a disconnect, Berman said.
Don’t worry about stretch marks and extra pounds, because your guy probably isn’t scrutinizing them the way you are. Wear some sexy lingerie that gives you confidence or swap your bedroom light for a pink light bulb, which gives a more flattering light, Berman said.
Ask grandma to take the baby for a night or even a weekend so you and your partner not only have time for sex, but the chance to make it exciting again.
Julie Revelant is a freelance writer and copywriter specializing in parenting, health, healthcare, nutrition, food and women's issues. She’s also a mom of two. Learn more about Julie at revelantwriting.com.