A lot changes after pregnancy and when you become a parent. It’s no secret that having a baby changes everything—even your marriage. And well, sex can be one of those things that change, too. Postpartum sex can be, well, complicated. Our hormones are all over the place, we’re tired, sore or in pain, and overwhelmed with all the things that come along with becoming a mom. There are sleepless nights, struggles with breastfeeding, laundry piles and mounds of dishes. It’s a huge adjustment now that a newborn is in the picture. And guys, there’s some things you need to know. Here’s what your wife wants you to know about sex after having a baby.
(Anonymous quotes from moms below. All images courtesy of Giphy.com)
1. Take “I’m too tired” at face value.
“My husband thinks I’m rejecting him when I’m simply just too tired. He takes it personally. I literally only get 2-3 hours of sleep a night and I work. He doesn’t help much in the middle of the night. I’m really exhausted. I sometimes muster up the energy for sex but it’s not on the top of my list. Sleep deprivation doesn’t exactly put me in the mood and I wish he was more sympathetic to that.”
Hearing “I’m too tired” or “I have a headache” has become so cliche that most men see this as a rejection and don’t often believe it. Instead it’s thought of as an age old excuse when things have died down in the bedroom. But if there’s ever a time for you to believe it and take it for face value, it’s postpartum. Though it may be difficult to adjust to a less active sex life, know that things will get better with time, communication, and support from one another. Helping your wife get rest, time for herself, and being supportive will make all the difference.
2. It hurts.
“I had to get stitches after birth. Do I really need to say more? It hurts like hell. Also, I’m breastfeeding, so yeah, dryness.”
Sex can be painful for many women postpartum for different reasons. Breastfeeding causes dryness for instance. As tempting as it may be to resume to normal activities especially in the bedroom, take it slow and find ways to make it comfortable again. Usually sex will return to normal after some time. But in the meanwhile—-lube. Lots and lots of lube and foreplay. Also, adjusting positions and communicating about what is or isn’t working is crucial.
3. It can get awkward.
“When I was breastfeeding, I’d get breastmilk everywhere! It’s messy and it kind of killed my sex drive. All I kept thinking about was that I was wasting milk that my baby needed.”
Sex can be a little Weird postpartum. Breasts can leak milk or the baby can start screaming when you’re right in the middle of going at at it. Roll with the punches. Don’t make a big deal out of it.
4. Our bodies are different.
“My breasts looked like deflated balloons after breastfeeding for 8 months.”
Adjusting to our new bodies postpartum can have us feeling a little low. Our breasts can feel sore or often too sensitive while breastfeeding or we may have kept on some of the baby weight. Even though women on social media and celebrities seem to “bounce back” quickly or get in the “best shape” of their lives postpartum it’s not always attainable for many women. Some changes will be permanent while others will take time to change, that can be months or years.
5. Learn the art of a “quickie”.
“Sometimes we would only have a few minutes and we needed to make it work or sex just wouldn’t happen.”
Whatever you were into before your becoming parents may not be what works now. You guys might not have time to light candles, slip on lingerie, or set the mood. You have to learn to take the few moments you get alone for granted.
6. Foreplay is different.
“You know what got me in the mood before kids? Dressing up, wine, and an amazing meal. After kids? It’s a turn on if my husband changes a diaper, wakes up with the baby at 3am, or washes the bottles in the sink.”
Look, we need help! Lots of it! Please don’t assume that we don’t and that just because we are moms that we know what we’re doing all the time. We’re learning as we go, too. So please, helping us will make things so much better and easier. Step in whenever you can, as often as you can. So maybe, just maybe we won’t feel like zombies and we’ll be in the mood more because we will feel more like ourselves.
7. We need space.
“I want to go to target alone. Is that so much to ask?”
We need to step away from “momming” once in a while. We need to turn off mom-mode. Every mom should have time alone to relax, rest, shop, get a massage or whatever it is that she feels she needs to do to feel better and more like herself. Make sure you’re giving her space. It can be difficult in the beginning where we feel as though we’re constantly in mommy-mode and we’re asked to turn it off instantly and be a wife and feel sexy again. It’s crucial that we feel like ourselves so that we can be happy. Feeling happy, well, leads to us feeling more up to sex and other things that we were into before becoming moms.
8. Six weeks isn’t always enough time to recover after childbirth.
“My doctor gave me the green light to return to normal activities at my 6 weeks postpartum visit. My husband was thrilled because we hadn’t had sex since the last month of my pregnancy. But I just wasn’t ready. My breasts were sore and mentally, my mind was somewhere else. He made me feel guilty for not being just as thrilled as he was about sex but leaking breasts, a ton of chores, and a crying baby didn’t make me feel sexy. I just needed time.”
Although six weeks is the average recovery time after childbirth, it’s not always enough time to “return to normal activities”. Your wife could still be in pain, experiencing mild discomfort, feeling symptoms of baby blues or postpartum depression, or a slew of other things that can happen after giving birth. Make sure that you are not only focusing on the baby but asking her what she needs and how she’s feeling. We are not only recovering physically but we’re going through a lot emotionally and mentally.