Wow. You’ve just had a baby. And when I say just, I mean that you had a baby within the last year or so (feel free to stretch this out to 18 months).
Whether this is your first cherub or your fifth, I know there is sage wisdom that you just can’t hear too many times. But this isn't your run of the mill advice about breastfeeding or immunisations. No, no, no. This is all about helping you to navigate your way through intimacy and what you can expect in and out of the bedroom in those precious first 12 months (plus some).
The first 6-8 weeks
You probably won’t want anything in the realm of sexy. The fourth trimester can be gooey oxytocin-overwhelm or it can be pure survival mode. Regardless of how you gave birth, if you feel the desire, take it with care. You’ll be bleeding for a while, especially if you had a vaginal delivery (I bled until 8 weeks first time and 5 weeks second time) and there can be stitches, scars, wounds and general acknowledgment of your body’s immense power is needed in high doses right now. Express your desires with your partner using affection, playful touch and simulating sex (a gentle clothes-on hump never goes astray).
8 weeks to 4 months
This is a more common postpartum period to first attempt penetrative intercourse (note my word: attempt). It’s OK to try sex and not have it result in full penetration. Sometimes the body just isn’t ready and that is what it needs at that point in time – more recuperation and recovery.
If you are breastfeeding, feel into whether or not you want your boobs incorporated in sexual touch. Let your partner know straight up if they are a no-go zone. Some women enjoy it and the feeling of fullness enhances sensation and some women shrink from it. I was a shrinker (not that I love labels). It wasn’t about shame – my boobs looked awesome! But they were being fed from 7+ times a day and I simply wanted to keep their intention clear. Honestly, they were touched out and I kept a crop top or bra on during sexual play.
Breastfeeding itself was a very powerful experience, especially with my second as I had a stronger response in my uterus that flowed down into my vagina as I fed. The gentle rhythmic contractions were really pleasurable and each time, I gave them an internal nod as if to say ‘thank you for reminding me I am sexual. Thank you for reminding me I am erotic’. It wasn’t the action that was erotic; it was purely a physiological response that felt…good. During this phase, I found my energy levels to still be relatively low but I was waking up and switching back on.
4 – 9 months
Less breastfeeding, more recovery, more movement, more normalcy and routine will work well to boost (nudge?) your libido in this period. If you haven’t already, ensure you start exercising to keep your energy levels up and your body in balance.
Maybe your period has returned, maybe it hasn’t. If it has, start syncing your sex life with it (being mindful of the times where you have nice little hormonal peaks that make you more receptive and responsive to sex). Be aware that you could be super fertile after your bebe (I became pregnant by accident – work that one out!) so choose your contraception methods. My faves are non-hormonal based like monitoring when I am fertile (I’m more vigilant now) and using condoms. Don't believe the myth about breastfeeding protecting you - you can fall pregnant whilst breastfeeding so still choose a contraception method.
9 months and beyond
If you feel like your libido hasn’t returned in any way, shape or form, that’s still in the realm of normal. You are still going through various forms of hormonal upheaval and some women that breastfeed through to the toddler years find that it isn’t until breastfeeding has completely ceased that they start feeling a little more fire towards their partners. All normal, all common. BUT if the following are happening, it could be a sign of other issues in your relationship that need to be addressed so that your libido can return…
+constant fighting/arguing/bickering. Tensions are high
+ignoring each other aka the silent treatment or stonewalling
+not spending any quality time together – by choice or through circumstance
+a complete absence of love and affection
In the meantime, if the foundation of your relationship is loving and mature and you’re kind of stuck – here are some truths…
+You can be sexual and a mother
+Your baby does not know what sex is and will never remember your sounds of pleasure – don’t let fear of them hearing you hold you back
+Having sex benefits your family because your relationship is being nurtured
+Take your time returning to the level of sexual touch that is right for you. Keep your partner informed of where your comfort and discomfort is (such as when intercourse feels like a ‘no’ in your body). So much conflict can be sourced into what hasn't been said. Simply keeping them in the loop can make a massive difference rather than saying nothing and having a disagreement erupt later.
Need more? On Saturday 2nd September, Go Mum Group Fitness will be hosting me at YogaSol for an afternoon of Reclaiming Intimacy as a mama. Go HERE to get a ticket and get wised up on what works for mamas who are struggling to navigate this confusing time.