Hey Mama, does this sound familiar?
You’ve just finished breastfeeding for the 5th time today. You’re exhausted and covered in spit up. You just want to take a shower and crawl into bed when suddenly he reaches out to you. Maybe he caresses your back sweetly, gropes your butt intensely, or makes a “teenage-like” comment about your boobs, butt, [insert “x” body part here]…
Instantly you retreat. You’re flooded with anger, annoyance, and more exhaustion. You think to yourself, “How does he have the audacity to try to have sex with me? Doesn’t he realize how exhausted and drained I am. I have nothing left to give. I mean who does he think he is??”
Quickly you push him off, make a snarky excuse, yell at him for even suggesting it… In short, you reject him and go to bed.
We’ve all been there. Any woman who’s had a new baby has been through this extremely taxing period when caring for your baby supersedes everything else, even nurturing your marriage. It is a time in life when finding the time to take a shower every day, let alone have sex with your husband can feel impossible. A time when you instantly become angry at your husband for even trying to be physically close to you. And a time when you feel so uncomfortable in your own skin and so unattractive that you’ll do whatever you can to prevent sex from happening.
It’s a painful time to go through, but you’re not alone in it!
While believing that you’re ever going want sex again may seem crazy, I promise that you will get there. You will survive these early months and find your husband desirable again. You will learn how to step out of your role as “mommy”, a role that can be all consuming in these early months and first years, and reconnect with the passionate and sexy woman, wife, and lover you once were.
It just takes a little patience, some focus, and effort.
Below is a list of 11 easy ways to start bringing the sexy back after baby. Review them, apply them to your life (at your own pace), and soon enough you’ll enjoy the physical side of your relationship again!
#1 – Put it on the calendar
When you put sex on the calendar, you make it a mental priority. As a new mom, it’s likely that sex is not your top priority, or any kind of priority. Getting some sleep, taking care of baby, doing the laundry, those are your priorities. Sex, not so much. But sex is important, especially in a marriage. It is what separates a romantic relationship from other relationships. It deepens your connection with your husband and nurtures intimacy. It is something that needs to be a priority in your marriage. So when you put sex on the calendar you are sending a message to your husband (and to yourself) that your intimacy and sex are a priority!
#2 – Build in the sexy
I often hear the concern that if sex is put on the calendar, it is no longer “sexy”. Not true!
When sex is on the calendar, you know when it’s coming and you can prepare for it and BUILD IN the sexy. For example, if you planned to have sex Thursday night, you can make an effort that day to wash your hair, shave your legs, get a little extra help with baby so you have more energy that night, maybe you send sexy, loving texts throughout the day to build the anticipation, turn off Toddler Tunes and turn on some sexy “mood” music, whatever works for you. The point is that when you know it’s coming, you can get yourself excited and energized for it. (Side Note: Women aren’t usually interested in sex until they’re actually in the act, so you have to mentally get there. Men are ready when they’re ready!)
#3 – Take it slow
Let’s face it, sex in those first months after baby is not as enjoyable as it was prior to baby. Not only is it physically uncomfortable as your body continues to heal, but it’s a little mentally uncomfortable too. Afterall, you did just give birth to a human being!
The key to getting through the physical and emotional discomfort of sex after baby, is to take it slow. Knocking out a quickie may sound like a good idea, especially if you’re tired and want to get some sleep before baby wakes again, but taking your time and allowing yourself to be present, relaxed, and engaged in the physical act will make it much more enjoyable and pleasurable.
#4 – Get help if there are physical barriers
While taking it slow and being mentally present can help, there are often legitimate physical issues that arise after baby is born. If sex feels painful to you, it may be important for you to seek out professional help. A good place to start is with your OBGYN. Letting your doctor know what your physical symptoms are will help them guide you in the right direction. Many women find the need for a women’s physical therapist after baby. These trained professionals are able to identify the cause of your pain (or other physical issues related to sex), such as helping your muscles relax if needed, increasing elasticity to improve comfort and pleasure, and assisting you with any and all physical changes and limitations that you may be experiencing since giving birth.
#5 – Remind yourself that you will feel better after you have sex
I hate to say it, but it is kind of true… Sex for women after baby is sort of like going to the gym. You know you should, but there are other things you want to get done and plus you worry about the pain… Just like with the gym, remind yourself that you will feel better after you’ve had sex. You will feel closer to your husband, more connected, and relaxed. It will improve sleep and your mood, and will give your marriage a boost! And while yes, there are other chores or activities you could get done in those 15 minutes or so, none of them are as important as taking a little time to nurture your marriage and reconnect with your physical, sexual self!
#6 – Buy something sexy that makes you feel sexy
Let’s face it, most women do not buy lingerie often. Some of us may have a few pieces from when we got married, but the thought of putting on wedding lingerie after having a baby can be dreadful. Lingerie, does, however, does have some benefits and can help you in your quest to bring the sexy back. If you buy the right piece(s), lingerie can actually make you feel sexy. Buying something that fits your new curves, highlights (and protects) your ample (tender) breasts, and hides your tummy may actually make you feel better (SEXIER) during the act than just being naked or trying to hide yourself under your unsexy your nursing tanks. Purchasing a little something new may be the push you need to start feeling attractive and good about yourself again in the bedroom.
#7 – Keep it breathing
This is my favorite tip for couples when it comes to sex after baby. While it’s perfectly normal for your sex life to decline after becoming new parents, you don’t want all aspects of your sex life to die off. If you’re not having sex, not having it as often, not kissing, hugging, cuddling, AND your not talking about these changes in your sex life, it will die off.
I have worked with dating and married couples who have gone 5, 7, and 10 years without sex. Shocked! I know. The reality is that these couples allowed their sex life to die off. They weren’t talking about it or staying physically close to one another in other ways and eventually it became more awkward to initiate sex and be physically close than to just remain distant. Keep in mind that it is normal for the amount of sex you’re having to decrease after baby, but you want to keep it “breathing”. Talk about it, plan for it, find other ways to be physically intimate while you work on getting your sexy back.
#8 – Take care of yourself emotionally
Women often do not feel interested in sex unless they feel emotionally connected. If you are suffering from postpartum depression/anxiety, feel guilty about going back to work, are mourning the loss of your career self, are having issues in your marriage, or are struggling with your in-laws, you are not going to want to be intimate with your husband. You must first take care of yourself emotionally, meaning work through your personal reactions, fears, anxieties during this major life transition in order to feel safe with the physical vulnerability that comes with sex.
#9 – Connect with him throughout the day/week
Women grow close through conversation and communication, men intimately connect through physical interaction. So if you aren’t feeling connected to him, you won’t want to have sex and if he isn’t having sex with you, he won’t want to communicate much with you. This discrepancy creates a vicious cycle that we have to acknowledge and work through.
A simple way to work together is to keep the lines of communication open during the week. Find little moments to talk and share in order to keep the emotional bond alive for you and increase your desire in being physically close to him. If you become or remain “ships passing in the night” and do not to carve out time to connect emotionally and physically, you will continue to feel distant from him, push away his bids for physical affection, and allow the sex in your marriage to fade out.
#10 – Get help as a couple in order to reduce resentment
Resentment in your marriage is normal after baby is born. There are a lot of marital dynamics that occur during this life transition that increase resentment for new parents, but allowing those resentments to fester and go unresolved will only cause more problems in your relationship. When resentment is present, you will maintain distance. You will avoid intimacy and vulnerability and wall off. If resentment is growing in your marriage, it may be time to reach out to a couples therapist and start talking about your relationship. Getting it all out on the table will help the two of you start working through it, which will decrease the protective wall you’ve started to build.
#11 – Don’t overlook the mornings
We talked about putting sex on the calendar, but honestly, sometimes you can have the best intentions to get physical on a certain night and then… life happens. The baby won’t go down, you’re too tired, your husband gets stuck at work… Once baby is about 4-5 months, their sleep becomes a little more predictable. They start to sleep longer stretches and can wake up and play in their crib for a bit before they need to feed. If you are starting to get to this place, this is a great time to capitalize on the mornings. Cuddling, kissing, taking a shower together or even making love before you get baby up is a really great way to start your day. It allows the two of you to connect and feel close to one another at the beginning of the day, which will boost your mood and improve marital interactions for the rest of the day. It will also allow you to just relax that evening and head to bed when you’re ready without trying to stay awake for sex.
While again, it’s totally common for sex to be the last thing on your mind after baby is born, it is an important aspect in a marriage that needs to return as baby’s first year of life comes to an end. In order to keep your love life from dying off and becoming roommates, you need to put in some effort, make a few small tweaks, and pre-plan a bit. Applying the above tips to your everyday life will help you start to feel more comfortable with the sexual side of your relationship and will definitely help you bring the sexy back after baby!