If you’ve spent any time on Netflix recently, chances are you’ve come across Workin’ Moms, a Canadian sitcom centered around motherhood. It has gained quite the following for its honest portrayal of life as a mom; candidly presenting postpartum depression, breastfeeding struggles and – most relevant to our post today – sex. In one of the first episodes, we see the following interaction between one of the show’s main characters, Frankie and a sex toy store clerk:
CLERK: Can I help you find something?
FRANKIE: Yeah, my libido.[Chuckles] [Coughs] Uh, I just had a baby, and I mean, I got kinda depressed and you know like, postpartum or whatever, and…I'm like,[knocking on her abdomen]knock, knock, are you even in there? [Clears throat] My sex drive, I mean.
Even with Workin’ Moms trying their best to normalize the situation, if you’re a new mom, watching this scene play out may spark some anxiety. Behind the piles of laundry and a desperate wish for a long, hot bath, one of your racing thoughts might be: what will sex be like now? If you’re having these concerns, just know that each experience is normal, healthy, and personal – if it’s working for you and your partner, then you’re probably doing it right.
Your body’s state
Much like Frankie from Workin’ Moms, your hormones might be leading you into a bit of a dry spell. Postnatal hormone changes, breastfeeding aches and a general uneasiness in your new mom body might make the thought of sex a little far-fetched. For women who experience difficulties with libido after pregnancy, the thought of getting touched by your partner might make your skin crawl. You feel like a human wet wipe perpetually covered in spit-up and baby poop, light-years away from the sexy nights in with wine and freshly waxed legs. And while you might not be ripping each other’s clothes off like you did at 22, there are always other options to remain intimate with your partner. Non-penetrative sex is great for intimacy if it’s vaginal pain that is giving you a problem. Sometimes the kind of physical intimacy required isn’t sex, and that’s okay! Hugs, back rubs and even playing with each other’s hair can be great ways to reconnect with your changed body and your partnership.Giving your partner attention and getting attention yourself is importantas your relationship and life adjusts to a new human being in the picture. Just by showing physical affection (like a gentle massage) allows you both to relax together.
Your mind’s state
On the other hand, sometimes it’s not a mental battle; youdo feel attracted to your partner, youdo want to jump their bones. But what if you’re not as tight as you used to be? What if it doesn’t feel the same? Whether your partner was in the delivery room with you or not, you both know what happened to your vagina: you pushed a human baby out of it. Chances are, things are going to be a little different down there and that can be scary. People aren’t exaggerating when they talk about seeing a gaping hole when they look between their legs after giving birth – which is why most moms suggest not taking a mirror to your downstairs bits right away. The good news is that most women find their bodies return to a normal-ish state within 4-6 weeks, especially with the help of pelvic floor exercises like Kegels.
So, if you’re feeling ready physically and emotionally, how soon can you get down to it? Like the healing timeline, most doctors recommend waiting 4-6 weeks or until your postpartum check-up, so that they can assess how well any tears orstitches have healed. If you didn’t tear or have any other vaginal-related complications, your doctor might give you the go-ahead sooner, like Myriam from Moncton, N.B. The Huffington Post recently put together an article normalizing the array of postnatal sexual experiences and quoted Myriam about her quick jump back in the saddle: “I didn’t rip or receive sutures, so my doc [sic] told me anytime I felt like having sex again, I was good to go. So two weeks later … I decided it was time to get things going.” While she did experience pain, this mom thanked the Romans for olive oil (a caution here – while lube is truly the nectar of the gods, opt for a water-based one if using condoms).
At the end of the day, it’s communication and honesty that make any sexual relationship flourish. So when you feel the time is right (and you’ve gotten the OK from your doctor), remember to pack some patience… and a good quality lube!
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