Congrats on bringing life into this world! Sex may not be high on your list of priorities at the moment but after some time that could change. Once you’ve given your body time to recover (4 to 6 weeks is recommended; longer if you needed surgery), check in with yourself and your partner about reinvigorating the intimacy that gave you your beautiful bundle of joy in the first place. Remember, there is no set timeline. Every pregnancy, birth and postpartum journey is different. It only makes sense that returning to sex is too. Start slowly and approach things as you begin to feel more comfortable in this new body.
The postpartum experience presents its challenges: lack of sleep, postpartum depression, chestfeeding, weight gain. All of these factors and more should be taken into account by your provider. They all play a role in your sex drive and mental health. Being able to spot them early and communicate what you’re feeling to your OBGYN is key.
A postpartum body experiences many hormonal peaks and valleys. The elevated levels of estrogen and progesterone that skyrocket during pregnancy drastically lower once the baby is delivered. This big dip aids in milk production but causes postpartum hair loss (around the two to three month post-baby mark) and adds to the baby blues. Prolactin spikes as lactation ramps up which also suppresses estrogen. Cortisol levels plummet adding to any postpartum sadness that one might be feeling.
All of this can contribute to a low sex drive. The oxytocin a new mother used to receive from a pre-pregnancy orgasm is now being released as the attachment to her baby grows. The time spent breastfeeding can also make it hard to distinguish the role breasts play as a source of nourishment and pleasure. As hormones fluctuate the vagina is affected. Our provider, Jackie Martin, explains that “when a woman is breast feeding, their prolactin levels are elevated to help with milk production which then causes their estradiol levels to be low so the vagina sometimes feels like that of a menopausal woman.” Vaginal irritation and dryness make sex far less pleasurable. This is where our providers would recommend the innovative and comfort-forward Überlube.
When you do begin to seek out sex again (and don’t worry you will!) you might find that your body has undergone a big change and your go-to pleasure centers may have shifted when they made space for a baby. If you are physically and emotionally ready, learning what feels good to the new you is exciting. It took 10 months to create a new life. Feeling and being sexual doesn’t need to happen overnight. Grant yourself grace to build up to the elusive Big O.
Some of that grace may extend to seeing a pelvic floor specialist or working with a therapist if your experience calls for it. Especially if pain during sex is persistent or if your mood and outlook have fallen. If pain is a concern, this is a good a time as any to remind anyone reading that sex doesn’t have to be penetrative. Mutual masturbation can feel just as intimate as missionary. Communication and reinforcements can make space for exploration. These award-winning toys from Dame are made for couples and solo play alike.
The good news is treatments are available and you will enjoy sex again. According to this survey, you might even enjoy it more than you did pre-baby.