Ask the Audience #4: Sex After Baby

From a reader:

My husband and I have been married for 4 years in March. Sex was pretty good at first. At least, I was comfortable with it emotionally/mentally. Although it was pretty painful for a month or 2 (we were both virgins), the pain went away and we had sex 3-4 times a week. I don't experience orgasm easy but we've figured out how to make that happen too. After we'd been married almost 2 years, I got pregnant. I had zero sex drive throughout the whole pregnancy and even now that our baby is 15 months old, I still don't have one. At least, I don't think I do? I'm so uncomfortable with the idea of it but I feel like its all in my head because I have sex dreams that make me horny or thoughts of wanting to dress up for my husband or buy a new toy, but then when I think about coming to the actual sex part, I get uncomfortable. I even avoid kissing my husband because of what it might lead to. For awhile after having my daughter I thought maybe my hormones just needed to get back to normal, but, now its been over a year and its still the same. I feel like now, I finally get more of a sex drive when I'm ovulating and we have sex a couple times then but once that time of the month is over, I have no desire again. So, I guess what I can't figure out is if this is a low libido that needs to be treated with a supplement or something... or if its emotional for some reason because I feel like I am in the mood but I can't get comfortable with the idea mentally?? I really want to get this figured out! Please help! :(


Babies are wonderful, fabulous, and rewarding additions to marriage. They bring warm cuddles, heart-melting coos, and change. Lots and lots of change. The dynamics of every marriage change, to some extent, after baby. Your hormones are all over the place and your self identity is confused. You are now someones mom. Life becomes a balancing act between your role as parents and your role as lovers. Unfortunately, the baby doesn't understand that you play two roles.

The problems you have listed (zero sex drive, uncomfortable with the idea of sex, avoiding sex and even avoiding kissing) are all very common issues after having a baby. You have been through a positive experience, but it's also been extremely traumatizing. Since a woman's vagina is used for intimacy as well as childbirth, many women relate sex with the pain of childbirth and the recovery period thereafter. Women often become confused. Breasts, that were once used in intimacy, are now used for sometimes painful breast feeding. How does a woman switch from
"my body is a nurturing tool used to create and provide life" to "I am a sexy, hot woman who wants to feel and offer pleasure?" Confusing.

So, what's to be done? Recognizing the problem is a great start, but we need to fix it. First, give yourself time to heal. You're allowed that. Next, I would suggest either determining for yourself or sitting down with your husband and saying something like, "You've probably noticed that our sex life hasn't been as rockin' hot as it used to be before the baby was born. But don't worry... I have a plan! I am going to initiate sex or some kind of sexual encounter everyday for as long as it takes until we are rolling around in the sheets more enthusiastically than we were on our honeymoon."

Lofty goal? Maybe. But it's effective. This goal puts the control back in your hands. Since you will be the one initiating sex, there will be no need to be afraid of him hitting on you. You will be choosing to kiss him. In your life right now, you have no control of your sleep schedule, your child, or your milk. But your sex life? You have control of that! With a new baby in the mix, you need to be bonded to your man now more than ever. Take charge and change your attitude. If you change your mindset, your body will follow.

Committing to initiate sex everyday is a great goal whether you are a new parent or not. Will you give it a try? It will change your life, I promise.

Do you have any suggestions for this new mom? What has worked for you?


  1. Oh I have sooooo been there. I totally get this. What I think really helped is talking with my husband. I mean real open honest communication. Yes, you feel completely vulnerable but honestly he loves you and he wants you to be happy, he wants what is best for you. So be honest. Say exactly how you're feeling. When I really need to be honest and open I find that writing a letter to Husband is much easier.

    Then the kicker is to let your husband help you find a fix for this. I think committing to initiate sex for 5 days in a row is a great first step...but I know that would have been to much for me right after my first baby was born. What I did was start reading marriage blogs and getting tips. I started thinking about sex, and then I prayed asking God to give me the desire. It didn't happen overnight...or even get better in a month.

    I can't say when it did get better but I will say that I now have 5 children and my oldest is 7. You can draw your own conclusion :)

  2. I took one of these every day after I quite nursing my second baby and it make a huge difference for me---maybe too good as I now find myself unexpectedly expecting my third.

    Worth a try, I think.

  3. I haven't had a baby yet, but I love the idea of committing to sex daily. It will avoid fighting and has to bring more love and tenderness to the relationship. Who's going to be grumpy when they just got laid?!

  4. @Jackie,

    Are you referring to some supplement you took everyday? I'd love to know what it was!

  5. @Jackie - so would I!

  6. The everyday challenge is great- we tried it last time you blogged about it. I loved it because besides getting closer to my husband, we could practice new things and add novelty to our routine. One week we focused on trying new positions, one week was all about oral sex- I used to not be able to relax and orgasm during it but now I can :) Practice, practice, practice :) The oral sex week REALLY taught me to relax and FEEL pleasure when I was receiving it. Maybe focusing on her pleasure for a while through oral sex could take away any anxiety related to pain and help her become more relaxed.

  7. What I have found out...after 20 years of marriage...is that when it comes to sex I am never sorry I did it. Even if I don't orgasm from time to time, I love my man and love pleasing him. So I guess my advice would be to take Gwen's advice even if you don't feel like it. Allow it to happen and while I don't advocate faking orgasm, it is OK to fake more enthusiasm about making love than you really feel. Go ahead and initiate, He will be thrilled and hopefully your encounters will be so rewarding that it won't be long until your enthusiasm is overflowing for real.

  8. I just can't do the everyday challenge. I tried. It's been 18 months since my baby. And I can't even stand the thought of kissing my husband, it's so repulsive, let alone sex. I've been very open and honest, talking about how we both feel. We've tried having sex a few times, just to see if I needed to "get back on the horse" so to speak. It didn't feel good, it was so completely neutral, and so disappointing. HELP?

  9. I agree with most of what has been said a lot of it is a mental issue. I've been there done this with 5 children ranging from ages 17 to 6. With each one it seem to get worst. I have a VERY patience husband. I even spoke with my doctor a number of times and kept insisting that something just wasn't right. I had blood work done and several other test with results all coming back that I was "normal" but my gut feeling was that there was something else that was physically off. So I suffered through it when the test results said that I was "normal" I just figured it was me and some how my fault. Not really getting better, I was convince that this was just how things were going to be from now on. Then about 5 years ago I met a lady who is now a very dear friend, she is an RN who works for a holistic DR. she did a test with a machine that is called "bio merdian" and come to find out my thyroid was very low (it still fell within the normal range with the test that my Dr. did before)this test is so precise and exact its unbelievable what I found out. Your thyroid will effect your libido dramatically there are other things that effect it as well. But for me it was my thyroid. There were some other thing that I took also but mostly we focused on my thyroid for the time being. I notice by leaps and bounds a huge improvement with in just a few days. My libido is better than before having kids,this can be hereditary. (apparently it was low before having kids. Pregnancy, child birth, and nursing just triggered it and made it worst. I hope this can help you in some way. Know that your not the only one who has or is going through this. Keep insisting and looking for answer until your satisfied with the results for you and not just what others are telling you is the "norm".

  10. #1 priority is open and honest communication (for the original poster). The worst thing you could do is leave your husband guessing why you haven't wanted to have sex with him, because he might be filling in the blanks with some ugly assumptions. He knows the baby is a big factor but, like you, probably didn't expect such a drastic change. It'll do his heart a lot of good to know that you want things to change.

    Also, if you don't feel like you can take on Gwen's recommendation, discuss the non-sexual touch. Tell him that you have some anxieties about sex that you don't understand yet, but you want to keep a strong physical connection. Schedule no sex cuddle time if needed - no wandering hands allowed. It might be frustrating for him, but depending on your man it's probably better than complete withdrawal. And hey, it might help reignite something in you!

    Good luck!

  11. As a mom who has been there, and recovered (at least recovered some) I think it was all mental for me. Less stress, less on the to-do list, more sleep = more sex. More stress, more to-do = less sex. To some extent you can control the stress and the way you handle it, and to some extent not.
    After my second set of twins, sex was not on my mind - ever. The top things on my mind were: Getting sleep, getting babies to sleep through the night, getting a shower, getting some time in with my big kids, and getting some time to myself! And to further exacerbate the issue - the sponge was off the market (which was our preferred BC). What I was missing was fitting my poor husband somewhere in that priority list. We got a wake up call from the good Lord himself (sorry no details) that made me realize how important this was to my husband - he never brought it up as a problem, but it was killing his self esteem and joy in life.
    Around that same time, our babies started sleeping reliably (finally!) And there were some other coincidental (or perhaps again created by divine intervention, you decide) life changes that took place and helped me shed some some of the stress and 'to-do' lists in life. Once I changed my mentality and had time to relax instead of constantly seeking to check off (or add another thing on!) to a mental to-do list, my libido came alive again. For a short while we were like newly-weds. Soon after some more stressors jumped on board our lives again - but hopefully I will do a better job now balancing my perceived stress and busy-bodyness with my husbands' needs! It has changed our life, in a very good way.

  12. For me this lasted 4 years! It really made a wedge in our marriage it wasn't until our last child that my hormones started getting back to normal...I realized how unhappy I was. I figured I had post pardum (sp???) with my first baby, I let it get way out of control because I didn't realize what was going on and either did the people around me. My "baby blues" were just that subtle, I cried I was tired and I didn't understand that I was depressed I still loved my baby and didn't want to leave her but I wanted nothing to do with my hubby the smell of him made me want to vomit! How sad right. So that is one more thing to check yourself on....are you happy? do things seems different all around you?

  13. I decided to try the every day challenge after some health problems. I decided every day seemed overwhelming, so I decided to initiate sex once every week. At first it was really hard and there were a few nights where I really didn't want to. But after a while something happened...I started wanting to! It got my sex drive back. We try to have sex once a week and our marriage has improved. I'm still working through it, but the challenge was the beginning. Ask yourself if you're willing to do something really hard for your marriage. You gave birth; you can do this!! Go for it!! Thoughts and prayers with you.

  14. It has been said that the longer a woman goes without sex, the more her sex drive goes away. The more she orgasms, the more frequently she will be in the mood for sex.

    I would suggest a few things to try:

    1. Don't start out with sex, but ask your husband for a good long, full-body massage. Tell him that he can't touch your breasts or vaginal area until you say so, but he can get very close. This may relax you enough and be enough of a tease to your senses that you may begin to get aroused, to the point that you may invite him to touch you sexually. This should last about 1/2 hour. Try this at least 4 times a week. You may even agree to return the favor. You may find that giving him a full body massage may start to awaken something in you.

    2. Get a good vibrator. Either let your hubby use it on you (not on your clitorus directly at first) or find some alone time to experiment with it on your own. You need to start having regular orgasms to bring back your sex drive. Set a goal to give yourself (solo, or with help) one orgasm a day for two weeks, then see how you feel.

    3. Spend some time each day thinking about your most sexual turn-ons. Past sexual encounters, things that you think you might want to try, anything that was very arousing to you in the past.

    4. Read a good book about sex. You will not only learn some fun and helpful tips, but it will start to turn up your sexual heat. Keep in mind that many of the sex advice books may not be totally in keeping with your religious beliefs (may refer to non-married sex, homosexual relations, etc.), but generally sex is sex. Skip sections that may offend you. Learn to focus on the tips and mechanics, with you and your husband in mind.

    You need to retrain your body to become sexual again. You owe it to yourself, and your marriage.

    Good luck!

  15. Great post and comments!

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