More often than not, having a baby does a one-two punch to your girly parts. Between leaky boobs, an exhaustion you’ve never experienced before, (and oh yeah, caring for a newborn 24/7), sex might be the last thing on your mind. But at some point, you’ve got to get back in touch with your sexy side and get your groove back. That’s why you might need to find some ways to restart your sexual pilot light after baby.
Thing is, it’s equally easier (and harder) than you might think. You’ve gone through a major milestone in your life, momma, and you can’t expect that you’re going to possess that same sexual prowess — at least, not right away. “The first thing most women think about after having a baby is not usually sex,” relationship and sex expert Alexis Taylor, Ph.D., tells Romper. “At some point in the postpartum period, though, you might start pondering the mechanics of sex after having a baby, and it isn't always an easy thing to picture.” After all, sex can seem almost impossible for you both physically and mentally after everything your body has done to birth your baby.
But if you’re looking to restart your sex drive, these are the keys to get your motor racing once again.
1. Trust Your Body
No doubt about it, if you’ve had a vaginal delivery, you might worry about postpartum sex. “Women are always concerned that their vagina will never go back to normal, but your vagina is designed to do this exact task,” says Taylor. “Sex may change after childbirth, sure, but for most women, it can be just as satisfying as before.” Make sure to wait the obligatory six weeks postpartum, and once your OB gives you the green light, you can go ahead and have sex… when you’re ready to.
2. Just Do It
Sometimes, thinking about having sex can make you stressed out. But while you should never have sex against your will or when you’re not up for it, under certain circumstances a quickie can work wonders. “Sometimes it can pay big dividends to jump into sex without over-thinking it,” says Taylor. “The more often you do have sex, the less of a big deal it becomes.” So don’t think that your lovemaking has to be an all-night sesh; just do it when it feels right and for as long as you want. You’ll probably be glad that you did.
3. Don't Compare Yourself To…Yourself
There are some unicorn moms out there who look like they’ve never had a baby. And then there’s 99.6% of the rest of the population, who, well, do. But comparing your pre-baby body with your postpartum bod might only mess you up mentally. “Don't compare your body now with your body before you had children,” advises Taylor. “Yes, most women's bodies change after pregnancy and birth, but you need to start accepting those stretch marks before you can ever begin to feel attractive.” And believe it or not, you’re sexier than ever…sagging boobies be damned.
4. Talk To Your Partner
You might feel slightly awkward talking to your partner about your sex life — or the lack thereof. But it’s an important conversation to have, especially if your sex life is stuck in a rut. “Talking is the most important thing you can do to return your sex life to normal,” says Taylor. Sit down and talk with your partner about how you’re really feeling, and be sure to discuss any fears you might have about having sex (like if you’re worried that it might hurt, or that you just don’t feel sexy right now). Together, you can help work out the issues and begin bonding again.
5. Work Up To It
When you’ve been nursing a newborn and haven’t showered in, oh, a day or three, it’s unlikely that you want to rip your clothes off and go at it as soon as your partner walks through the door. That’s why you need to build some sexual tension between the two of you. “Sex and romance go hand in hand and it starts way before the clothes come off,” Hope Boulevard, a relationship expert, tells Romper. “A sexy text can provide a great start for the day or a little love note left in the car or lunch box.” Sure, this might take time and effort — neither of which you have right now. But you can build your way back to intimacy by showing small signs of love and affection.
6. Take Care Of Yourself
Life with a baby is hectic, which is why it’s easy to let your own sexual needs slide. That’s why you need to take care of yourself both physically and mentally. “Make sure that you are healthy enough to have desire again, like getting enough sleep, eating healthy, taking a shower, and doing the things that make you feel good,” Jessica Cline, MSW, LCSW, a psychotherapist and sex therapist, tells Romper. “Your libido won’t reappear if you are completely run down, so the next time someone offers to help out, say yes.”
7. Schedule Sex
It might not sound sexy to schedule sex among pediatric appointments and work deadlines, but it could be. “Scheduling sex can build in time for responsive arousal as you can think about being intimate with your partner,” says Cline. “This way, you can start to turn up your own internal heat instead of trying to be ready on demand.”
8. Stay In Touch
Being sexual isn’t just about sex. Simple touches — like a good hug, a kiss, or even a smack on the tush — can all help establish intimacy between the two of you. “Human beings need touch, and pleasurable touch from our partner feels good, whether that's sexual or non-sexual,” says Cline. “Plus, physical touch with your partner can help bring back your libido after having a baby.”
9. Relearn Your Own Sexuality
Sex isn’t just about fulfilling your partner’s needs — it’s about satisfying your own, too. But sex might look (and feel) differently after you have a baby, and that’s okay. “You need to relearn your body after having a baby as it may have changed,” advises Cline. “Some positions may cause pain, your path to orgasm may be different, or you may have different lubrication needs.” Explore what you need to feel good again, and don’t worry if it’s not exactly what it once was.
10. Embrace Your Libido
Just because you’re not looking to rip your partner’s pants off postpartum doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with you or your sex drive. “It’s completely normal to have a lower libido after you have a baby as well as some anxiety about having sex,” says Cline. But once anxiety turns into avoidance, it can become problematic for you and your partner. So learn to love your libido no matter what level it’s at, and have open communication with your partner. Include lots of non-sexual touch, because as Cline points out: “Intercourse doesn’t have to be the goal.” Sometimes, foreplay and genuine affection can be just as satisfying as sex.
Of course, everything changes after you have a baby, and your desire for sex might be at the top of that list. Give yourself some time, and remind yourself of the things that you love about your partner and your relationship. And soon, your love life will be lit once again.
Alexis Taylor, Ph.D., sex and relationship expert
Hope Boulevard, a relationship expert
Jessica Cline, MSW, LCSW