For many women, the dream of having a child is present since early age. Culturally, Latinas are particularly inclined to want to have a family. However, in many cases the joy of welcoming a baby can be overshadowed by a drastic decline in a woman’s sex drive after she has given birth.
According to experts quoted by Virtual Medical Centre website, it’s very common for women to experience lower libido – compared to before their pregnancy – for up to a year after childbirth and especially in the initial 4 to 6 weeks.
In many cases, new moms associate sex with another chore on their to-do list and being touched becomes more of a burden than an act of pleasure.
In today’s world, where media is constantly feeding into the image of the ideal body and celebrities parade their perfectly toned figures just weeks after giving birth, the pressure is much higher than it used to be.
In a study with 50 women included in the book "Sexuality During and After Pregnancy," author E.L. Ryding found that 20 percent of postpartum women had little desire for sexual activity three months after delivery, and an additional 21 percent had complete loss of desire or even aversion to any kind of sexual activity.
There are a number of factors that contribute to these feelings: first, the sex drive has to compete with the overwhelming feeling of fatigue that comes with taking care of a newborn. A new baby demands constant care and attention that are both physically and emotionally draining. Moreover, according to the American Psychological Association, in six to nine percent of the cases the emotional turmoil of giving birth results in postpartum depression.
Second, the woman’s body is dealing with intense hormonal changes following the labor and delivery. In the case of breastfeeding mothers, their hormones are affected for the period they are feeding. In non-breastfeeding mothers their hormone levels stabilize 4-6 weeks after childbirth. Plenty of postpartum women also experience dryness of their vagina after giving birth, which results in painful sex.
Third, many women shy away from sex after giving birth because they become self-conscious about their bodies. In today’s world, where media is constantly feeding into the image of the ideal body and celebrities parade their perfectly toned figures just weeks after giving birth, the pressure is much higher than it used to be. The reality is most normal women don’t have the financial means celebrities do to pay for personal trainer sessions and personalized diet plans.
It’s extremely important for new moms to understand there is no exact “right” or “normal” time to resume sexual activity; it will depend completely on how they and their partners feel. Sex should never be painful or uncomfortable, neither should it be forced simply to please a partner. The key element for couples dealing with a low postpartum libido is communication.
Here are some tips for resuming sexual activity:
• Don’t force yourself to have sex, wait until both partners are ready.
• Kissing, cuddling and spending intimate time are great ways of staying connected with your partner.
• Make sure to spend time as a couple, without the baby.
• To avoid sex being painful, have a water-based lubricant handy.
• Experiment with different sexual positions to find the one/s that feel most comfortable.
• Consult with your doctor if you believe you are suffering from postpartum depression.
• Always communicate with your partner about how you feel both physically and emotionally.