After giving birth, some women can’t wait to reach the six-week mark, which is typically when doctors will give clearance for vaginal intercourse after delivery. Others watch the date come and go while practically shuddering at the thought of being intimate with a partner. Both reactions are perfectly normal.
“It’s completely normal for both women and men’s libido to hit a rock-bottom low during the first six to nine months following the birth of your baby,” said Los Angeles-based OB/GYN, Dr. Sheryl Ross to WebMD.
Here are some of the reasons sex can feel more like a chore after having a baby and how you can get back on track.
One of the most common reasons that intimacy suffers after a couple welcomes a baby is that both parties are utterly exhausted. Caring for a helpless newborn all day and all night can deplete you of all forms of energy. When you finally do get some quiet time to yourself, you want to spend it sleeping — not having sex.
This is one of those things that will improve with time. As the baby gets older, sleep will generally begin to improve. However, leaving the baby in the care of a trusted relative for a night of uninterrupted sleep can also help.
Parenthood is stressful for a multitude of reasons. As previously stated, parents typically get less sleep than they did before welcoming a baby, which can be a major source of stress in itself. However, when you compile the added expense of having a child and the increased workload associated with caring for a newborn, it can be a true romance killer. Studies have shown that too much stress can kill sex drive. Worse, the increased stress can also result in tension between the couple, which can lead to bickering, making partners even less likely to want to have sex.
To manage stress levels, virtual or in-person couples therapy sessions can help. It may also be helpful for partners to take turns allowing the other to spend time alone to decompress and regroup.
If you’re one of the many moms who co-sleep or bedshare with your baby, then you know that this can also be a barrier to intimacy. However, as MadameNoire writer Toya Sharee points out, it doesn’t have to be this way. As Toya explains, all you need is to be a little creative and adjust your expectations a bit.
Though not often discussed, breastfeeding can also be a libido killer. This is at least partially due to hormone fluctuations.
“Many women’s sex drives change not only after baby, but while breastfeeding too—and for a multitude of reasons,” Dr. Heather Bartos, a Texas-based OB/GYN told The Bump. While there’s not an immediate fix to this problem as you can’t really alter your hormone levels, moms can take solace in knowing that the issue should begin to subside once the baby begins eating solids.
“Generally, as baby eats more and more solid food—starting at around 4 to 6 months—and the breastfeeding/food ratio changes, your hormones will slowly get back to normal, and so will your sex drive,” Bartos explained.