And then even if everything goes totally as planned, no stitches needed, and you’re able to walk out of that hospital room, your body is still different than it was before you were pregnant. It takes a long time for your uterus to shrink back down to its pre-baby size. Your pelvic floor muscles and ligaments are stretched out. You may have diastasis recti, where your abdominal muscles partially or fully separate, or potentially even pelvic floor issues that could use some attention. And then regardless of how you gave birth, you’ll likely be wearing jumbo pads (or even diapers of your own) for quite a while, because you’ll continue bleeding for weeks.
Then if you’re breastfeeding, that means your estrogen levels will be particularly low, which can interfere with sex drive, and inhibit your natural lubrication. Not to mention—breastfeeding can be extremely uncomfortable at first for some people. There’s nothing sexy about blistered nipples.
And then there’s the fact that you’re keeping a newborn baby alive, likely feeding it every three hours around the clock…for weeks, or months. Extreme sleep deprivation can be a libido killer too.
Meanwhile, you’re undoubtedly experiencing a bit of an emotional roller coaster, thanks to the hormones that come with pregnancy and childbirth and postpartum. And if you’re dealing with postpartum depression or anxiety, those can also—obviously—get in the way of wanting to be physically intimate with your partner.
And on top of it all, your body is new to you, and doesn’t feel or look the same as it did before you had a baby. You might feel uncomfortable in your skin, physically or emotionally. And if you have a partner, you’re simultaneously trying to navigate new frontiers in your relationship. Learning to become a parent is a very intense experience. There isn’t a manual for this!
All that is to say that if you had a baby four months ago and you’re ready and eager to have sex again with your partner, that’s amazing, and good for you, and get it on, by all means. But if you’re in a different headspace, or not quite ready, or even not quite sure what pleasure even feels like for you anymore, that’s also fine. Something that Garbes and I discuss in the podcast is how, after baby, you might have to reacquaint yourself with your own body. You might need to learn what pleasure feels like. And what you like now post-baby might be different than what you liked pre-baby. And it’s a process. And that’s okay.
We cover a ton of ground in this episode, which I personally found extremely fun and helpful to produce and narrate. I hope that our conversations help Traci feel better about herself, about her relationship with her husband, and about her future sex life. And I hope if you’re a new parent, or about to be, that it can be helpful and affirming to you too.
Angela Garbes is a journalist and author of Like a Mother. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, The Cut, New York, Bon Appetit, and has been featured on WHYY’s Fresh Air. You can follow her on Instagram @AngelaGarbes and subscribe to her newsletter.
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