Q: I recently gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. The doctor has since given us the green light for sex, but I can’t ever seem to get in the mood. Between taking care of the baby and breastfeeding, I feel exhausted and at odds with my own body. I feel like a “mommy” — not like a sexy woman — and I know my partner is feeling frustrated, especially because we didn’t have sex during most of my pregnancy due to my low desire. How can we get our sexual connection back?
A: It’s not uncommon for new moms to struggle with desire as they become acquainted with life as a mom. For nine months, your body was home to your child, and even now, it still serves as your baby’s source of food and comfort. Suddenly your breasts offer more than just sexy décolletage, they also serve as nutrition! No wonder you can’t help but view your body and your sex life differently, and it’s also certainly no wonder that it’s hard to go from mommy mode into vixen mode.
Essentially, you will need to relearn your body and your sexual desires all over again, but this doesn’t have to be a bad thing. In fact, you might find that your sex life gets even better! One of the best things you can do is start fantasizing and reconnecting with your sexuality once again. Read an erotic book to help reawaken those sexual desires, or talk to your partner about some of your hidden fantasies. If you aren’t ready for intercourse yet, perhaps self-stimulation can help you get back in touch with what feels good. Best of all, self-stimulation can help you increase circulation to your genitals and help you ease back into your sexuality and your desires.
It’s also important to make time for yourself outside of your role as a new mom. Your baby needs so much of you right now, but you won’t be able to be there 100 percent if you aren’t also taking time to take care of yourself. Have the grandparents babysit so you can take a nap or hit the nail salon with your girlfriends, or slowly start to ease exercise back into your life with yoga classes (but don’t begin any exercise regimen without first getting approval from your doctor).
You and your partner also need to find time to reconnect as lovers. You might not be the only one who is having a hard time switching from parent to lover, as a new dad also sometimes feels intimidated or anxious about having sex with his partner after childbirth. It’s important to communicate and take things slow, and it’s okay to talk about your fears as you get acclimated to each other in the bedroom once again. Make time for date night and make sure to talk about things other than the new baby: Although it will be difficult to resist, it will help you reconnect as lovers if you talk about “adult” topics — whether it’s sex, love, politics, whatever! Remember why you connected in the first place and make that couple time a priority — it’s not selfish, it’s your way of ensuring that your marriage stays strong and healthy, which is a wonderful gift not only for you, but also for your baby.
— Dr. Laura Berman