My sex drive has been really low since I had my baby. Is that normal?

Answer by Melinda Gallagher, MA, LMHC

Yes, it is. After having a baby, most women experience a decrease in sexual desire for several reasons. First of all, you are undergoing major hormonal shifts and are probably very tired from caring for a newborn. Your body also needs to heal. And depending on the circumstances of your delivery, the healing process can take weeks or months. During that time, many women find it difficult to even consider having sexual intercourse.

After all, you are already devoting your body to taking care of a newborn. From breastfeeding to rocking a fussy baby, it can be so physically intimate and emotionally demanding that you may not want to be touched any more than you already are. You may be in physical pain, or you may feel claustrophobic. You may also just feel protective of your body. These are all normal reactions.

For a good stretch of time postpartum, it is unrealistic and counterproductive to expect that your sex drive will be what it was pre-pregnancy (even if it used to be very high). It doesn't mean that your sexuality is gone forever; it just means you have other priorities right now.

The good news is that once you have completely recovered from birth and delivery, your desire for intimacy, your sexual pleasure, and your ability to enjoy orgasms can return (sometimes stronger than ever). One of the first steps is to realize that taking care of your sexuality can be a part of your general postpartum self-care. In the beginning, those priorities might be to make sure you are eating well and sleeping when you can. When you are ready, taking care of yourself can include looking out for your own sexual pleasure.

Start by working toward a positive relationship with your post-pregnancy body. Spend some time alone to check in with how your body is healing. You and your body have been through a lot. And although it might feel intimidating to acknowledge these changes, becoming comfortable with your post-baby body will help you feel confident about it.

Another stumbling block for new moms can be accepting that sexuality is a part of your identity as a mom. But it is! It's what got you here! And remember that motherhood is physical and powerful. Appreciate your newfound strength, and let that enhance your self-esteem and revitalize your sexuality.

Once you have done a little work to embrace your new body, it's time to try it out. Start by masturbating. Masturbation is probably the most efficient way to release your mind from all your other thoughts, be in the moment, and, of course, have an orgasm. It's also a great way to show yourself a little compassion.

After you have reconnected with your body successfully on your own, it's likely that you will be more open to reconnecting with your partner as well. You can even show your partner what's working for you. And when you are together, make your pleasure a priority. In fact, it might be a good idea to put your needs first for now.

And through all of this, remember to be patient with yourself. It's ok if you need more time to feel ready. Like everything else in your brave new world, adjusting to your new role and your new body takes time and effort. But with a little work, you can feel better than ever about your sexuality.

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