I heard stories and warnings about other people's sex lives after having a baby, and I either didn't believe the hype, was convinced it didn't apply to me, or didn't hear stories similar to what I was going through. Once my midwife told me I was cleared for sex, I was still not prepared for what followed.
Shocker #1: I felt incredibly unsexy. I know moms get a bad rap for losing their sexiness, but I thought for sure that wasn't going to happen to me. I vowed to be in connection with my femininity, divine self, and all that jazz. I imagined myself glowing and enjoying having my body back. Instead I felt lumpy, had low energy, and experienced the lowest libido ever. There was a moment when I was blaming it on the weight I gained, but when I spoke to my mom friends about it, I discovered even my skinniest and most beautiful friends didn't have the urge either.
My Solution: I had to realize that I wasn't going to be turned on by my husband until I was turned on by myself. And it wasn't about looking a certain way, it was about feeling a certain way. I slowly started doing things for me—showering every day, buying prettier pajamas, going for walks, having my mom watch the baby so I could have lunch with a girlfriend, stretching, and most importantly, saying nice things to myself.
Shocker #2: Sex hurts, a lot and for a long time. I was one of the lucky ones who didn't have any tears as a result of my birth, but well into the fifth month postpartum, it was still painful to engage in intercourse. When I asked my friends who recently had babies, this is the number-one thing about sex after baby that shocked them. One of them shared, "I worried during my whole pregnancy about being too loose after, but I had a tear, and they sewed me up and now I'm really tight. Sex is excruciating."
My Solution: You can see a special physical therapist to help you stretch things out. If it is only mildly painful, make sure to always use lubricant or coconut oil. Not that you have a lot of time, but foreplay helps. I also know that when you stop breastfeeding, a lot of your natural lubricant comes back. Side note: I also wonder if OB/GYNs could do something a little different. A friend of mine was at a dinner party last week and a friend-of-a-friend who is an OB said casually that she does the "husband stitch" without being asked. What!? This is infuriating on so many levels. I am sure many doctors do not prescribe this method, but the fact that the "husband stitch" is even a thing makes me really nervous.
Shocker #3: I felt a lot of pressure. Once I was "cleared" by my midwife for sex, I felt like every day that went by, I was going deeper and deeper into the "washed up mom" category. I started getting worried about who I was as a woman and a wife, and what was going to happen to our relationship. Were we going to be one of those couples? Was he going to leave me? I mean, highly dramatic stuff, which certainly was not helping my chances of being relaxed enough to be intimate. What's crazy is that I am not a "dutiful" wife and here I was putting all this pressure on myself.
My Solution: I talked about it. I told my husband how I was feeling and the drama I was creating in my head. I finally told him, "I have no idea how long I'm going to want to wait, but I am nowhere near ready. It could be months." And he was fine. We devised ways to feel physically close and connected in other ways and our relationship did not suffer. Of course the lack of pressure and the knowledge that our relationship was safe made me feel a lot more ease around intimacy, and it did not take months for me to feel comfortable.
Shocker #4: When are you supposed to have sex!? Between feeding, changing and entertaining a child, running a company, trying to feed myself, forming complete sentences, and trying to have dinner with my husband at least once a week, all of my free time (7ish hours at night) goes toward sleep. Let's say the stars align, and you and your partner are both awake with little to do and the baby is asleep (I think this has happened once in the past 9 months), having a baby in the next room is a total buzz kill!
My Solution: Don't sweat it and keep talking. There are so many made-up rules about how often couples should have sex. It's all BS and in your head. Take some time to think about what is best for YOU and ask your partner the same. Also, try to talk about it often. I'll say something like, "I know it's been a while, but I want you to know that I do want to have sex and I am attracted to you, but it's just hard to find the right moment." If you can schedule a night away, just remember what it feels like to be two adults, and this will make a world of a difference.
I'd love to know about your biggest sex shockers and your solutions to feeling good in this area, so share in the comments below! And if you need any more support, feel free to visit me at SarahJenks.com.
Sarah Jenks struggled with her weight for years until she stopped "waiting on the weight," and finally did all the things that she had put on hold: going for her ideal job and flirting with her dream guy. Her happy lifestyle resulted in Live More Weigh Less, where she helps other women have engaging, meaningful lives full of great adventure. Follow her on Twitter @sarahejenks and Instagram.