This year we took a poll in our Tubby Todd Mamas Facebook Group about what topics they might be interested in reading about here on the blog and one category in particular got a lottttt of votes—so we reached out to our Wellness Expert Mama Natalie Clay Coaching for some tips on, you guessed it, navigating sex after childbirth. Not feeling like bringing sexy back during those postpartum months? Guess what, that's ok! Read below for some helpful advice on how you and your partner can sort through BOTH of your needs after bringing Baby home:
Be patient with yourself and your spouse. Everyone needs time to adjust to a new schedule, new bodies, new emotions and new identities.
It’s the happiest time of your life, the day you bring that new baby home from the hospital. Everyone is on cloud nine. You never knew you could feel so much love for a human being. But it’s also one of the most emotional and challenging times for many women as well.
Your body is trying to recover from the birth, your hormones are all over the place, your emotions are high and the sleeplessness isn’t helping any of it. Your post-baby body feels anything but sexy and you’re just relieved the doctor gave you an excuse to not have sex for at least the next 6weeks. You’re having a hard time imagining you’ll be ready even then.
Your husband is excited for that 6-week check-up and wants to connect with you in this way. You’re not so sure. Your breasts are tender from nursing and your body still doesn’t feel like your own and sex is the last thing on your mind. This is the point where many couples begin feeling an intense amount of resentment, guilt and rejection with regards to intimacy in their marriages. This dynamic, left unchecked, can begin to create distance and resentment, even about topics that have nothing to do with sex. This is also what I want to help you avoid today with 3 things to keep in mind as you navigate sex after childbirth.
1. Nobody Is Entitled to Anything in a Marriage
Unfortunately, many people believe that a husband and wife are somehow entitled to certain things from one another. Sex is one of those things.
This is not true.
Even in a marriage, both of you are entitled to your agency. Whether or not you choose to have sex with another person, even your spouse, is a big part of that. As soon as we believe we are obligated or entitled to be intimate, we shift the dynamic from one of connection to one of resentment or guilt. Neither of these will create the connection we desire.
If you want sex and your spouse doesn’t, remember it’s not a rejection of you. It’s about something going on for them and it’s normal to go through periods of time where we don’t feel connected to our bodies or our own sexuality.
If it’s your spouse who wants sex and you don’t, pressuring yourself into it is not going to help. Be accepting of yourself where you are. Try communicating openly with your spouse about your lack of desire, and remind them it’s about you and not a rejection of them. Nobody owes anybody anything. From this place you are more likely to stir up desire again, eventually.
2. You and Your Spouse Are Both Responsible for Your Own Emotions
Many of my clients tell me they just give in and have sex because they don’t want to deal with a grumpy spouse. Then they tell me that they feel resentful because he gets grumpy if they don’t say yes. I tell them that they have it backwards. They are trying to manipulate their spouses’ emotions by agreeing to sex and they are blaming him for their emotions. This doesn’t create the kinds of marriages any of us want to have.
Instead try this. Try on the idea that your spouse is the one who is in charge of his own happiness. He can be grumpy if he wants and that’s not for you to solve. If you choose to say yes to sex, even though you don’t want to, that’s ok too, but keep the ownership for your feelings. You can choose to have sex and feel grateful to yourself for showing up for your spouse. Or you can choose it and feel resentful, but that’s on you. Your spouse is not creating any of that for you.
Once you begin owning your own emotions and stop delegating them, you develop the ability to also allow your spouse to own his or hers. This doesn’t mean you don’t care. It doesn’t mean you turn your back on them. It means you respond with, “I love you so much and I’m sorry you’re disappointed but I want to tell you the truth and be genuinely present with you when I am ready instead of pretending.”
3. Change Always Feels Uncomfortable but It Doesn’t Last Long
Bringing a new baby into your home and your family is a major life change. It’s going to disrupt things. Even though it’s usually a welcomed change, it will create discomfort in many areas of your life. This is normal. If you had a sex life full of challenges before the baby, this addition will probably add another layer of complication. If your sex life was great before, it’s likely still thrown off as so many other things change.
Be patient with yourself and your spouse. Everyone needs time to adjust to a new schedule, new bodies, new emotions and new identities. Eventually, everyone will settle into the changes and find new things that work.
Make your marriage a priority during this time. Make connecting with your own body, your sexuality and your spouse a priority. It’s easy to be distracted by the needs of a baby and neglect your marriage. That may seem easiest in the short term, but it will likely not be what you want in the long term. Patience, curiosity, openness and compassion for both yourself and your spouse will help you adjust and grow closer to one another as a result.
See more posts from our Expert Mama series HERE.