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‘Guilt’, ‘obligation’, ‘duty’ all words used by women to describe their feelings towards sex after children. If they don’t whip you into a sexual frenzy then nothing will! Mamas reading this are going “mmm hmmm, no truer words have ever been spoken” or “OMG hide this blog from my partner so they don’t know the truth!”

But on the bright side not all women have negative sexual experiences and feelings in the first 12 months postpartum.

Around 80% of women report issues such as pain during intercourse, vaginal dryness and loss of libido in the first 3 months postpartum, which means 20% are living the dream!

The social construct we have created for mothers these days to “have it all” is just not attainable for the majority of women and forces poor mamas to put so much pressure on themselves to “have it all” that they usual just end up mentally and physically exhausted, and when it comes to sex they are partner-focused as opposed to pleasure focused.

Relationship changes (role changes, sex, intimacy) are significant challenges for women and their partners after childbirth. Research was conducted with a group of Melbourne mothers 3 years after the birth of their first child. The goal was to explore how women experienced and perceived changes to their sex life, sexuality and intimate relationships after birth.

So what insight did these mamas deign to share?

The most common reason for decreased frequency of sexual activity: extreme tiredness and exhaustion, especially in the early months.

How did they find lifestyle changes: dramatic and challenging. Most women spoke of lifestyle changes in terms of the losses they experienced since birth; loss of freedom, spontaneity, self-care time, time alone as a couple. There was also an increase in domestic responsibilities. Even those that pre-children had an equitable distribution of household duties found after children they tended to assume stereotypical roles, which the women resented.

What happened to their relationship intimacy: 3 different outcomes. Either intimacy and emotional connection decreased as a result of sexual problems, sex was used a tool to remain connected in the midst of change, or couples found new ways to express intimacy.

How did having children change their sexuality (the way you think or feel about yourself as a sexual being): negatively. Being a mother was described as “not sexy”. I mean what’s not sexy about having to take a moment to think about when you last showered…or even longer to remember when you last shaved your legs and washed your hair…What is interesting is that generally these mothers reported their partners didn’t see them any differently, it’s the way they see themselves that had changed.

How can you have a positive and intimate relationship after children?

  1. Talk, talk and talk some more. Communication, particularly in the early postpartum months, is key to getting through and setting up responsibilities, expectations and priorities.
  2. Schedule self-care time each week. You can’t be intimate with someone if you don’t feel sexy in yourself, and one step towards feeling sexy is feeling like yourself again. Maybe it’s feeling like who you were pre-children or maybe it’s feeling like a new and improved you. It doesn’t matter as long as you feel happy and confident in yourself.
  3. Spend time alone together with your partner. Schedule in regular date time, or if childcare is an issue, schedule a regular home date night. No one said dates need to be expensive or outside the home. Spend time together doing whatever it is you enjoy together. The expectation that this is the night for just you as a couple is often exciting! It also allows you to prioritise sleep vs intimacy (a big competition for mamas).

 

Stop trying to be everything for everyone and stop trying to live up to socially constructed images. We forget that media and social media posts are only a snapshot of a moment in time and behind it is likely hours of setup and perfecting. Life is not about time to setup and perfect, life is about all the moments with your loved ones and you are missing them if you are trying to “have it all”.

Only you can remove self-imposed pressures, and once you do you feel an enormous amount of freedom!

After more tips to increase your libido and improve your intimate relationship? Join the Mama’s Sensual Safari and learn everything you need to know to live a fabulous sex life, leaving all the pressure behind.

Author: Vanessa Tarfon