Truth time, dear reader: I love sex. Like, a lot. I've always been a very sexual person, always been open about my sexuality, and I've never been embarrassed about the amount of sex I've had (or who I've had sex with). So, it was pretty shocking to find myself disinterested in sex after my son was born. I mean, it was past that six week mark and I still didn't want to be touched. As a result, I needed my partner to know the things every new mom wants her partner to know about sex; things I didn't really envision experiencing, let alone sitting down and discussing with my partner.
Thankfully, because I've always been open and honest about sex (and definitely don't think it's something to be ashamed of or embarrassed about) the postpartum conversations my partner and I shared about sex were easy, helpful, and always ended in a supportive and uplifting way. While the change in my sex drive was shocking to me, it was also shocking for my partner. I knew that he, too, was experiencing a massive life change since becoming a parent, but was powerless to really understand what I was going through, too. While he was always supportive and very involved, he couldn't wear my skin and feel what I felt when I was pregnant, going through labor and delivery, or recovering form all of the above. It was impossible for him to know what it felt like to breastfeed, and have someone touching you almost every hour of every day.
So, the following things were definitely things I absolutely wanted (and needed) him to understand. Because while sex will always be important to me — and will always be something I enjoy as long as it is pleasurable, fun, and consensual — when I was postpartum my priorities shifted and, hey, that's nothing to be ashamed about, either.
It's Not A Top Priority
I guess I should "feel bad" about admitting that, but I really don't. Sex was the last thing on my mind after having a baby (for me, as obviously there are plenty of other women who are ready to jump back into the sack as soon as possible). My body needed to recover from pregnancy, labor, and delivery. I needed to get used to the whole breastfeeding thing. I needed to rest whenever I could (which was few and far between). I needed to adjust to live with a newborn.
So, honestly, having "sexy time" with my partner wasn't even on my radar, and continued to be at the bottom end of my priority list even after I was given the a-OK to resume sexual activity by my OB-GYN. Postpartum depression, juggling work and motherhood, and a slew of other responsibilities still required my undivided attention.
It Seems Like More Work Than Fun
Sex is supposed to be fun, and when it no longer feels like fun then I'm not going to put forth a whole lotta effort to facilitate it. It's honestly that simple. So, when I can barely keep my eyes open, I haven't showered in who the hell knows how long, and I am hungry because breastfeeding, getting down and dirty just sounds like a chore.
While I do believe that sex is an important part of a relationship, I do not think it's the only important part of a relationship. Honestly, this is why having a baby can be difficult for couples: it requires you to lean on other aspects of your relationship, not just the sexual part. If you don't have other ways to connect and show one another you care about one another, you may end up faltering.
It Won't Necessarily Be The Same...
I've never really understood why the idea that sex might be "different" postpartum, automatically means (or people automatically assume) it'll be bad. Sure, my body may have changed, I may want different things from you sexually, and I might not be into what used to turn me on, but that just means we have an opportunity to re-explore ourselves sexually. That's like dating for the first time, and that's pretty exciting.
...But That Doesn't Mean It Won't Be Amazing
Different doesn't necessarily mean bad. Repeat that over and over and over again until you believe it. Different doesn't mean bad.
Being A Mom Doesn't Mean I'm No Longer Sexual...
Motherhood doesn't strip a woman of her sexual desire. Now, for some women it might (because every woman is different) but mothers are still sexual beings, my friends. They still enjoy orgasms and they still enjoy dressing in a way that makes them feel sexy and they still like having sex.
...Or That I Don't Still Want And Enjoy Sex
Procreating doesn't rearrange molecules and turn you into a sex-less being, so please don't make a mom feel "bad" or like she's "dirty" or "wrong" for still loving and being into and wanting sex.
An Aversion To Sex Isn't About You...
This was a difficult concept for my partner to truly grasp. He's more of an introspective human being, and really goes into himself to see how he may or may not contributing to any situation. So, when I was not about sex at all for a pretty significant amount of time after having my son, he truly thought it was because I no longer found him attractive. He then started to position sex as a way for me to prove and/or show him that I still loved him, which isn't necessarily the healthiest thing to do, dear reader.
It was a pretty difficult road, but luckily we worked it out. Still, the more you think it's "about you," when it isn't, the harder it's going to be to get back into the swing of things.
...It's About Being Touched Out
I wasn't into sex after having my son for one very specific reason: being touched out. While it did take me a little while to get used to my postpartum body, my changing body wasn't the issue. It was my loss of complete bodily autonomy. With breastfeeding on demand and co-sleeping and working from home, I never caught a break. I always had another human being touching me, and it just got to be too much.
The More Pressure You Put On Me To Have Sex...
Consent, my friends. Consent, consent, consent. Look, I know that it's important to feel sexually compatible and connected with your partner. I mean, I'm a girl who really, really enjoys sex. However, the moment I feel pressured to have sex, all bets are freakin' off. Sex should be something both parties are emphatic about having and agree about having, not something that is a "must-do" in order to make someone else happy.
...The Less Likely I Am To Want It
If it's not my idea. If I feel like this is "maintenance sex." If I feel like I'm using my body to placate you, I won't want to have sex at all. I want to have sex with my partner because it's fun and feels pretty freakin' incredible and because, you know, I kinda like him. I don't want to have sex in order to prove some point, or use it as a tool to somehow make him feel more secure in our relationship. That's what conversations are for.
There Are Other Ways To Connect
If I'm not feeling into the whole sex thing, there are other ways that we can connect. We can kiss. We can cuddle. We can watch endless episodes of The Office and feel connected via Michael Scott's ridiculousness and the joy that is Dwight Schrute in costume. You can bring me food. I can rub your back. The choices are endless, my love, so please don't put all the pressure on sex.
Sex isn't going anywhere. Sex won't disappear if you don't have it a certain number of times a day or a week or a month. Sometimes, putting sex on the back burner and focusing on other things is the healthiest, most important decision new parents can make.