I gave birth a beautiful baby girl about three months ago. And it’s wonderful! She is a good sleeper and I generally feel like “we got this.”
Problem is, I’ve had, like, zero libido since I gave birth. My husband is clearly (politely) dying to get back to what was a very satisfying sex life. From what I’ve read, it isn’t uncommon for birth and breastfeeding to cause a low libido, but I miss sharing that connection with my husband.
And every evening when we crawl into bed I feel anxious and guilty and wonder, “Should I?” even though I definitely don’t feel like having sex.
What should I do?
Mama Don’t Wanna
You’re right. New biological motherhood and a rockin’ sex drive typically are not a flawless match made. Most women who give birth experience a significant drop in their desire for sex for at least three months (so really you’re right on schedule to perhaps experience a natural, gradual incline in the ol’ dead drive).
There are a few reasons for this: Your body has just been through A LOT. Emotionally, many people experience postpartum depression which doesn’t have many of us screaming “Take me now!” Then there’s the lifestyle changes, what with the less sleep, the increased stress, and oh right, having a tiny human relying on you and your mate to keep them alive and well!
If you’re with your baby lots and have tiny hands all over your body all day long, you may also be feeling touch-overwhelmed, then if you choose to breastfeed, hormones like prolactin (drops your libido) and estrogen (lowered levels during breastfeeding can cause a drop in libido as well as vaginal dryness) definitely don’t help.
So, my first piece of advice is to have patience with your body and its organic birthing and post-birthing process. It’s doing something predictable and biological in dropping your libido to help your body do what it needs to do in keeping the tiny one fed and surviving in her first year. Dang! Bodies are amazing, right?? You are so magical!!
Okay, so I don’t have kids, nor have I ever birthed one, so much easier for me to say than to do, right? So what can you do?
From your question, I’ve gleaned that though you don’t have an interest in sex per se, what you do really have an interest in is connecting with your husband. We have sex for all kinds of reasons: to get off, to scratch an itch, to procreate, to pass the time, to get a workout, to orgasm, and sometimes, it’s one of the most effective ways we can connect with those we love.
What parts of sex help you feel most connected, Mama? Is it the pillowtalk afterwards? The intimacy and flirting before? The satisfaction of watching your mate squirm in pleasure? The physical touch? Break it down for yourself (and while you’re at it, ask him these same questions!) so that you have a basic template for what it is exactly that helps you feel connected via sex.
Then, brainstorm with your husband (this can even happen over text or in a written journal if shared alone-time is at a premium) ways that you can cultivate these connecting components of sex without the libido or penetrative intercourse requirement.
Things like massage, bathing together, watching porn together while one or both of you masturbates, talking dirty, or just rolling around in bed like a coupla teenagers can all help build the connection you’re looking for without the pressure to perform.
The sweetest part about building connection like this (whether that connection is sexually charged, romantically charged, or even just having fun together) is that it can often breed stronger sexual motivation and libido as a result.
No matter what, talk as openly as you can with your husband about the guilt, anxiety, and longing for connection you feel and collaborate as much as possible around getting back on the proverbial horse. Neither of you should have to feel like you’re in it alone when it comes to nurturing your shared sex life, so don’t self-isolate. A couples therapist can help!
Yana Tallon-Hicks is a relationship therapist, sex educator, and writer living in the Pioneer Valley. You can find her work and her professional contact information on her website, yanatallonhicks.com