Simply put, being a mom is really tough. The second your bundle of joy arrives, everything changes, from your hormones and brain chemistry (yes, mommy brain is a real thing), learning to function on a complete lack of sleep, appreciating the 5 minutes you have to snack on your kiddo’s leftovers, and significantly, the upheaval of your sex life. Your body has been completely transformed, energy levels zapped, leaving sex sometimes feeling like a luxury of the past.
Not only is mom life tough, but your post-partum body can pose some very real challenges to reestablishing sexual activity. Challenges that are rarely discussed during pregnancy and often unexpected. There is birthing trauma- which can cause pain with sex or urinary leakage.. But also, and very importantly, there can be a prolonged low-estrogen state after pregnancy (especially if breastfeeding). This low estrogen state can lead to vaginal dryness, reduced arousal and orgasm, and really freaking painful sex.
Not only has your body been completely overhauled, but moms are tired! More often than not, it sounds much more appealing to face plant and drool into a pillow than engage in some sexy time with your partner after a long day of chasing a 1-year-old and, again, losing the battle of why 30 cheerios are not to be thrown on the floor. Even worse, you may be like many other parents out there who have failed to break the co-sleeping cycle making alone time in your bed and sex pretty much impossible.
Sexual intimacy in any relationship is just as important as communication, trust, etc. Feeling a physical connection with our partners results in greater relationship satisfaction, as well as better mental and physical health, and in turn, being a better parent.
The first step is knowledge. Knowledge about the very normal but very treatable changes that happen in our bodies after giving birth. Is your vagina dry? Ask your doctor for vaginal estrogen (I did- and it works- it is amazing). The second step is communication with your partner: aka- “I still find you very sexy- I am just exhausted…” your partner is probably exhausted too. Being open and honest about the challenge makes the issue something that can be acknowledged and worked on together- when it is right for you. The third step is advocacy. Be the advocate for your sex life. When you are ready, can you get a night off? Can a family member babysit? Can you take a quick trip or buy some new toys? A vibrator? During the wild and wonderful years with young children- sex may be something planned out and that’s ok (and potentially a new opportunity to make sex special).