“There’s a huge amount of adjustment after giving birth – physically, psychologically, and socially” Sarah Welsh, gynaecologist and co-founder of sexual and intimate wellness brand Hanx, tells GLAMOUR. “All of which all have a huge effect on your sex drive (or lack thereof).”
Above all, Welsh stresses that any change in libido after having a child is completely normal, no matter how upsetting it may feel.
Why does our sex drive change after having a baby?
“Feeding your baby, changing nappies, washing clothes, and not to mention a severe lack of sleep aren’t exactly the best ways to get you in the mood,” Welsh says. “New mothers often feel that they hardly get the chance to have a minute themselves, never mind quality time with their partner.
“You might find that your overwhelming instinctive desire is to care for your new baby, not procreate. This lowered libido essentially serves a biological purpose to make sure you’re prioritising your new baby, not the making of another one.”
It doesn’t just stop there, though. It’s important to realise that you’re getting to know (and love) your new body, which can come with complications.
“It’s also common to feel self-conscious about your post-partum body, not just because you might be sore around the vulva and vagina after delivery. This can have a real impact on your sex drive post-partum,” Welsh says. “Remember, you’ve grown a baby, carried them inside you and delivered them to the world. That’s incredible!”
And on top of it all… there’s the hormones to consider when it comes to sex after childbirth. “After delivery, your oestrogen and progesterone levels drop, and this can lead to vaginal dryness, which makes penetrative sex uncomfortable,” Welsh explains.
“Also, if you’re breastfeeding, you’ll be secreting another hormone called prolactin, which stimulates milk production but can also have a negative effect on your libido.”
Here are some tips to improving your sex drive, and getting to know your post-partum body’s sexual needs.
1. Talk to your partner
“TV, film and books tend to represent new fathers feeling frustrated that sex is off the menu for the foreseeable – and that’s not always the case,” Welsh says. “You may be surprised that you both prefer the thought of getting in some zzz’s over having sex right now, and that’s fine.
“Problems arise when you don’t communicate properly, or when you are misaligned and not understanding of each other’s needs.”
2. Experiment with touch
“Get back to basics,” Welsh suggests. “If the thought of full-on penetrative sex is a bit intimidating, start with cuddles, kisses, soft touch, back scratches and just being close.
“These are all things that create intimacy and can slowly build up to sex when you’re both ready.”
3. Take the time together
“It may be tricky logistically when you’re tethered to a tiny, screaming human but solo time (without baby or family or other people) is invaluable, even for a 10-minute walk or a cuppa on a balcony,” Welsh says. “Date night may feel a bit ambitious, but if you can sneak one in, even better!