Courtesy of Marie Southard Ospina

There's A Reason Why New Moms Have Less Sex — & It Has Nothing To Do With Kids

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Before my daughter Luna was born, I swore to myself that my partner and I wouldn't be one of those couples who stopped having sex when the baby was born. Regardless of how hectic motherhood might be, I vowed that I would not let my libido suffer.

One night, about seven months after Luna was born, my partner and I had been given the go-ahead to introduce our daughter to meat and pasta, so much of the day had been spent trying to convince a non-verbal infant that spaghetti Bolognese is not only edible, but delicious. She didn't agree. Neither did her bowels. I was running on a grand total of two hours of sleep, and I was tired; like, too-tired-to-sleep tired.

Pre-baby, I would've known just what to do. I would've nestled into my partner and put the moves on him. I would've gotten any lingering energy out of my system and distracted my brain for long enough to settle into a deep, satisfying sleep afterwards. But that night, I couldn't even convince myself to roll over, so needless to say, we didn't have sex.

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That said, when I think about my postpartum sex drive (or lack thereof, in this case), I don't think my problem is an absence of sexual desire. I still think my husband is fine AF, and being a fabulous dad has only amped up his sex appeal. My head and heart still crave intimacy, even if my body has yet to catch up. I don't think motherhood is to blame for my lack of interest in sex, though. I'm pretty sure it's the lack of me time.

Courtesy of Marie Southard Ospina

Much has been said about the physical reasons for decreased sex drive postpartum. Breastfeeding, for example, reduces the amount of estrogen the body releases, and estrogen is apparently responsible for a low libido. Not enough estrogen can also make for a dry vagina. I breastfeed, and I can attest to the vaginal dryness thing.

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There's also the recovery involved post-labor. Regardless of whether moms have delivered vaginally or had a c-section, birth is hard. It's painful and bloody and can leave the body feeling fragile if not completely broken. It's mentally and physically exhausting. And while doctors usually recommend that women usually wait at least six weeks before having sex postpartum, many women choose to wait even longer.

These are my requirements for feeling sexy. These are my requirements for feeling sexual. And I have no time to do any of those things.

Although I obviously can't know for sure, I don't think I can chalk up my lack of friskiness to postpartum chemical imbalance. My situation is this: It's difficult for me to get in the mood when I don't feel like I'm taking care of myself fully. Doing so includes, but is not limited to: catching up on my favorite authors' new releases, setting aside some time to wash and brush my mane, or to put on a bold lipstick, or to get some fresh air, or to learn something new.

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These are my requirements for feeling sexy. These are my requirements for feeling sexual. And I have no time to do any of those things.

Courtesy of Marie Southard Ospina

My daily routine goes something like this: I typically get out of bed around 7 or 8 a.m. On the very best mornings (which are few and far between), I get four or five hours of solid sleep. After feeding my baby and myself, I get to work. I spend anywhere from four to seven hours writing and editing from home. During this time, my mother-in-law or babysitter are generally helping out with Luna.

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Having me time is the way we stay attuned to our wants and needs. It's a way for us to check in with ourselves, a prime ingredient in one's personalized self-love recipe. Without it, it's easy to feel lost. It's easy to feel run down. It's easy to prioritize everything and everyone else at the expense of the self.

Once they're gone, I try to balance playing with the baby with tidying up the house, or cooking dinner, or paying bills, or doing any number of mindless grownup activities that I probably hate but that are essential nonetheless. If the baby is fussy, which she usually is, I don't do much at all. I sing and bounce her around and get out her toys and change her diapers, and then suddenly the day is dead. My partner gets home around 6 p.m. We eat, give Luna a bath, and try to calm her down with books and quiet time. If we're lucky, we sleep. Obviously, none of this allows for much solo time.

Courtesy of Marie Southard Ospina
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This is not to say that motherhood hasn't taught me anything. Of course it has. I just want more. I want to feel the excitement of discovering a character's fate on my favorite HBO show. I want to know what Siri Hustvedt has to say in her new book. (I hear it's something about a woman looking at men looking at women, but I haven't even had time to go to the store or place an Amazon order for it.) I want to know what lives on the other side of the massive hill behind our home. I'm sure there are animals and trees and maybe even a lake, but I've never seen any of it.

Sex is part of what unites a couple. It reminds them of everything they love and enjoy about each other. It reminds them that they are alive, and that they are more than "just parents."

These things might sound totally separate from sex, but in my opinion, having me time is the way we stay attuned to our wants and needs. It's a way for us to check in with ourselves, a prime ingredient in one's personalized self-love recipe. Without it, it's easy to feel lost. It's easy to feel run down. It's easy to prioritize everything and everyone else at the expense of the self.

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Courtesy of Marie Southard Ospina

As mothers, we are often taught that when we have children, they are meant to become our world. They are meant to take center stage. I'd like to try to shift that narrative, ever so slightly. I'd like to try to make more time for myself. I'd like to try to make more time for my partner. I'd like to feel like I'm with him in all the ways, so we can be there for Luna in all the ways.

Realistically, sex is part of that. Sex is part of what unites a couple. It reminds them of everything they love and enjoy about each other. It reminds them that they are alive, and that they are more than "just parents."

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En route to my hopefully reinvigorated libido, I plan to take a lot of that me time. Maybe I'll ask the babysitter if she can take on an extra hour a day, or maybe I'll find a second babysitter if she can't. Maybe it'll mean asking my partner to take the baby for a couple of hours on the weekend.

I'm not sure what I'll do yet. But I am sure that even just thinking about me time fills me with a kind of excitement I haven't felt in seven months. I can only imagine what achieving it will be like.

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