Some may call me crazy, while others may believe I am completely brave. The truth is, I am one of those women who had two (soon to be three) children back-to-back (fewer than 18 months apart). Consequently, I am well-versed in the complexity of rebuilding one’s libido post-baby! Without a doubt, the hormonal and physical changes certainly take a toll! I’ve learned it all boils down to being proactive about healing, health, and self-care.
Throughout our lives, we, as women, experience a lot of physical and hormonal changes. Each woman’s unique experience with these changes is highly impacted by genetics and overall health. Research proves that after a woman has a child, by vaginal birth or a cesarian (c-section), common complications can occur. One of the main complications women experience post-baby is a lack of sexual desire, also referred to as lowered libido.
Why wait up to six weeks?
Although the majority of OB-GYN’s suggest that women wait four-six weeks before attempting to engage in any penetrative sexual activity, that does not necessarily mean they are ready to take on the challenge. Let’s be honest, your vagina just went into overdrive by bringing a tiny human into the world. Of course, you want to have sex. Who doesn’t? However, rushing this critical time dedicated to your healing can be detrimental to your health if not handled with care.
During this time, your cervix will shrink back down to its normal size. If you experienced tearing while giving birth, your stitches will need to be completely dissolved before having sex. This is also necessary if you had a c-section.
What’s happening with my hormones?
Now let’s look at how your hormones and emotions impact this four-six week timeframe. During pregnancy, we produce more of a hormone called estrogen. In fact, we produce more estrogen during one pregnancy than through our entire lives when not pregnant. This hormone contributes to our vaginas’ lubrication. Research shows that pregnant women have reported feeling much wetter during pregnancy than before being pregnant. Once your bundle of joy arrives, the production of estrogen decreases, which may cause you to feel dryer than normal. Factors, such as breastfeeding and medications, may impact this as well.
So, the magic question is, “How do I rebuild my libido after pregnancy?” That’s why you’re here, isn’t it? There is not a one-size-fits-all answer to this question. In fact, it would not make any sense to say, “You should do exactly x, y, and z…. and boom you’re ready to rejoin the get laid club.” However, here’s a helpful general list of tips* that you can customize to your personal situation.
*Double check with your healthcare team to ensure you are staying aligned with your post-partum routine and overall health precautions.
Practice self-care daily
There is no font size big enough to iterate how important this is. Between adjusting to your new body and getting into a routine with your new baby, we often forget about ourselves. Self-care is one of those things that is unique and flexible. Whatever is going to make you happy during your alone time is what you should pursue. Are you the kind of person that enjoys reading in a peaceful environment? Grab a book and cozy up for a reading session. Or if you are someone who enjoys taking walks outside to get fresh air, once you feel physically ready, take some time to reconnect with nature.
Have honest and open conversations
Your partner is adjusting to this new life with you. Lean on them for support. Express how you are feeling, both emotionally and physically. Prior to approaching your partner, take a few moments to relax. If you have some built up frustration, remember the two of you are in this together. Conversation topics that you may find useful are:
- How are you feeling physically?
- What are you feeling emotionally?
- Once you are fully ready, how often are you comfortable with having sex?
Give your partner some insight into any reservations about getting back to intimacy after giving birth. Be sure to talk about the details in depth. If so, what are they? Are there ways the two of you can circumvent those anxieties? Lastly, what ways, other than penetration, are you comfortable with doing to be stimulated?
Have these conversations to set clear and realistic expectations concerning sex. Also, make sure you are and stay comfortable with sex.
Try non-penetrative forms of sex
If you are feeling hot and heavy, but a little weary about jumping right back into intercourse, explore non-penetrative forms of sex. In today’s day and age, arousal and pleasure are no longer mundane or limited to a small box. There are many options that are worth exploring. You may discover a new pleasure point that you had no idea even existed with:
- Extended forms of foreplay
- Oral favors
- Experimenting with sex toys
Want more info? Check out this great blog.
If one of your concerns is vaginal dryness, invest in a quality water-based lubricant, this can be used on a day-to-day basis.
As mentioned, giving birth is beautiful, yet unique experience for every woman. As time passes, you will learn that each moment of this journey is invaluable in its own way. Like most things in life, there are obstacles you must overcome but nothing is too difficult for you to conquer. Remember to be kind, patient, and realistic with yourself. The focus should be on regaining your energy, strength and wellness. Moving too fast can delay all those critical milestones.