You’ve gone for your 6-week postpartum visit and gotten the go-ahead to start having sex again. Your spouse is eager to resume sex and wants to engage but you’re not feeling it. Does this sound familiar? You're not alone.
This makes you not only feel guilty but you might also be concerned that there’s something wrong with you, that somehow you’ve lost your sex drive. The best advice is for you to listen to your body. Just because you’ve been given the clearance to have sex doesn’t mean that you are emotionally or even physically ready. Childbirth is a traumatic event for a woman’s body. Even if it was the picture perfect delivery without any unplanned medical intervention, your whole body is going through major changes. Exhaustion, interrupted sleep, the constant pressure of caring for a newborn, breastfeeding . . . all impact our energy level and interest in having sex. I find that many new moms are not ready to really engage in sex until at least 3 months postpartum.
Understand where your partner’s need is coming from. A new baby often disrupts the relationship with your partner, even causing many men to feel jealous, albeit usually on an unconscious level. Demanding sex is a way for a man to reclaim the primary relationship with you. If you’re not ready for sex consider other ways in which you can make him feel special and connected with you on a romantic, as opposed to parental level. For example, ask him to give you a massage that can be sensual, but not necessarily sexual.
Communicate your needs with your partner. Clear communication about what’s going on in your body and how you’re feeling will help maintain trust in the relationship. Showing empathy to your partner will help reassure him that he has not lost you to mommyland. Encourage him to make sure his own needs are met through his own self-loving practice. He needs touch and to know he’s still desired and perhaps you’re not ready to give that to him. For many men, just being given that permission, regardless of whether or not they follow through, will give them the reassurance that they need.
When to Seek Help
I suggest that women who are still not interested in having sex after 3 months consider working with a sex coach or sex therapist. There could be many reasons that are blocking you from wanting sex, including:
- Trauma or wounding from childbirth (the unexpected emergency C-section or feeling loss of control during a turbulent delivery). All of these cause trauma to our body and psyche that might not heal on its own.
- Physical wounding and scar tissue — Episiotomies often cause scar tissue that can make penetration painful. The body begins associating sex with pain rather than pleasure.
- Fear of getting pregnant again
- Body issues and not feeling sexy: Body shame around weight gain and stretch marks is very common for new moms
- Inability to separate the parental relationship from the romantic relationship
- Underlying relationship issues
Xanet Pailet is an expert with NewboRN Solutions, which has over 75 highly vetted providers for families all in one stop. She's a somatic sex educator, intimacy coach, tantra teacher, and sexological body worker who has worked in the health care field for over 25 years. She works with individuals and couples using a variety of modalities to help them explore different paths of pleasure within the body, increase their sexual energy, and help heal emotional and sexual wounds.