Even after your doctor gives you the green light, many new moms don’t feel like getting intimate. That’s completely normal!
It’s caused by hormone shifts that promote bonding (oxytocin) and relaxation (prolactin) for breastfeeding and decrease estrogen and testosterone to prevent another pregnancy. It’s evolutionary! But you can rekindle intimacy with your partner in other ways.
1. You’re exhausted.
After nine months of carrying a baby, delivering it, and then breastfeeding or rocking the little one to sleep at night, moms (and dads) are exhausted. The lack of sleep, poop and pee everywhere, endless laundry, and constant worry about their new addition can be draining physically and emotionally.
That’s why it’s not surprising that many women find themselves not feeling as lusty as they used to after having a baby. And that’s okay! “Not wanting sex right after giving birth is normal for most women,” says Dr Nanayakkara. “There are a number of reasons for this.”
Some of these reasons include lowered levels of estrogen—which drop to near-menopausal levels immediately after delivery—and an increase in prolactin, which is released during breastfeeding and is responsible for milk production. Additionally, oxytocin—the “love hormone” that’s released during bonding and cuddling—can also play a role in lowering libido postpartum.
While some of these reasons are completely normal, it’s important to remember that there are other ways to connect as a couple after having a baby. It’s also important to communicate with your partner about what you each expect from the relationship, including when and how often you want to be intimate. If sex isn’t something you both prioritize at the moment, try connecting through other activities, such as oral or mutual masturbation.
2. You’re adjusting to life with a baby.
There’s no denying that having a baby is a big adjustment. You’re suddenly living with a tiny human who is dependent on you for everything, from feeding to napping. You’re also struggling to find a balance between taking care of your new family member and still spending time with your partner. Add to that the stress of breastfeeding and physical recovery, and you can see why sex might not be at the top of your to-do list.
While some women feel their libido return within weeks or months postpartum, it can take longer for others. If your sex drive continues to drop for more than six months, you may be suffering from Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD). It’s important to discuss this with your doctor and get checked out.
The hormonal changes that occur while you’re pregnant can make your vaginal muscles more sensitive after birth, and this can affect how much pleasure you get from sex. It’s also common to experience a low libido if you’re breastfeeding, which requires a lot of attention and can be uncomfortable.
The good news is, most women find that their sex drive returns eventually after baby. In the meantime, try to focus on other forms of physical intimacy with your partner. Hugging, cuddling, and kissing are all great ways to feel close to one another without having to think about sex.
3. You’re adjusting to your new body.
As you work through your hormonal cascade and struggle to figure out what your new normal looks like, the reality of your body may feel foreign. This can take a toll on how you see yourself, especially when it comes to sex.
Specialist gynaecologist Pav Nanayakkara, from Jean Hailes for Women’s Health, says that it’s very common for interest in sex to take months—or even years—to return after pregnancy. “People have expectations that they should bounce back to what they were before, but that’s not always the case.”
When you are devoting all of your energy to feeding, changing, and rocking a fussy baby, sexual intimacy can feel less important than it used to. In addition, breastfeeding can cause a release of the love hormone oxytocin, which can make sex less interesting.
But, while it may be harder to find the motivation for physical intimacy, don’t let this affect your relationship with your partner. It’s a good idea to communicate openly about how you’re feeling and talk about your future plans together.
Despite the barriers to intimacy, with time and patience (and plenty of cuddles), most people get their libido back after giving birth. Be kind to yourself, be patient with your partner, and remember that your new priorities are completely normal. It’s not easy to balance parenting with a resumption of intimate activities, but it’s worth it in the end.
4. You’re feeling insecure.
The end of pregnancy and childbirth can be a time of anxiety for new moms. Having a low libido could add to those feelings.
Women often blame themselves for a lack of interest in sex after having a baby. But if you’re honest with your partner, he or she will probably understand and be more supportive.
For some women, the low libido can be a sign of postpartum depression or other emotional problems that need to be addressed. If you’re concerned, talk to your GP or health visitor.
Another reason for a lowered libido is hormonal changes. While you’re pregnant, your hormone levels are high and then drop to pre-menopausal levels after birth. This change can cause vaginal dryness and lower libido, particularly if you’re breastfeeding.
If you and your partner both have a lower interest in sex, it might help to think about other ways to build intimacy. Spending quality time together doing other activities like talking, cooking, playing games or going for walks can be a great way to reconnect with each other and find some fun. Also, remember that your libido will return for most women within 1-3 months after having a baby. For some, it may take longer. Be patient and keep communicating with your partner about how you’re both feeling. And don’t forget to use a little bit of lube!