Sex after childbirth: tips from the experts

Thanks to our guest contributor, Dr. Bat Sheva Marcus, clinical director of the Medical Center for Female Sexuality.  She sees many women in her practice who are wrestling with regaining their pre-baby sex life.

With parenthood,  ideal of spontaneous and urgent sexual desire may give way to the reality that parents  have to create sexual opportunities for themselves.

The addition of children into a couple’s marriage and sex life is a complicated mix of joy and stress. Though often delighted at the birth of a child, couples are often not prepared for the additional stress a child puts on the body and their relationship.

A complicated mix of psychological and physiological components often result in low drive for sex after childbirth, even if a woman who was quite interested in sex prior to becoming a mom.  Imagine how distressing this can be – for both parents!

Physical and Psychological Factors

Pregnancy and lactation can wreak havoc with a woman’s hormone levels and they may not return to pre-pregnancy levels for a long time after the birth of a child.

Hormones are a critical component of normal sexual response. Low levels of testosterone-related hormones, estrogens and DHEA-S can contribute significantly to a woman’s low sex drive.

Both vaginal deliveries and C-sections can put stress on different parts of the woman’s body by damaging nerves, stretching muscles or just causing irritation. Some of these symptoms may go away after some time; others may not.

On the psychological front, there may be altered feelings about your own sexuality now that you are a mother and you and your husband are no longer only a couple but parents as well. Exhaustion has a psychological impact as well, and it can take the steam out of your libido for sure! You may also have changing feelings towards your body, how it may look and feel differently since becoming a mother.

The enormous life change often does not allow us to make the time or space in our lives for those experiences or situations that allow us to feel sexy. You’ve all seen that movie:  finally, a romantic evening is planned, only to be foiled by a fever, diaper rash, visiting grandparents…. This reality can be upsetting until we can think up other avenues for feeling the arousal and excitement that impromptu sex can stir up!

So, as lessons go, here are a few:

  • Make time for your romantic life (don’t laugh; it seems impossible but give it a try!)
  • Be forgiving if your body takes a while to feel the way it used to
  • Use your husband as a guide. If he’s into it, you’ve gotta know you’re still beautiful and desirable!
  • Think about other ways to feel sexually satisfied if the tried and true approaches aren’t working at this very moment. You may need some help in the way of lubricants or even a vibrator (gasp!) to give you that warm and wonderful sensation that lovemaking can.  Husbands are more open and interested in these techniques than we think…

Most importantly:  Never give up on having a satisfying sex life with your partner.  Amidst the challenges and joys of parenting, nothing works to seal your partnership like the intimate and sexual moments between you.  If time passes and you’re not back to your normal self, seek help from the right places.  Everyone (even new mothers) deserves to have a healthy and satisfying sex life!

You can find more information of women and their sexual health here.

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