Postpartum

Postpartum Body Image and Why New Mom Bodies are Complicated

Forming a Healthy Postpartum Body Image

You look in the mirror and everything about your postpartum body looks different.

Boobs.

Butt.

Belly.

You walk and sit and lie in bed and it feels different. Things aren’t put together the way they were before.

Maybe you laugh about this or cry about this. Maybe you feel peace or you feel shame. You’re not sure how you’re “supposed to” feel and what your body is “supposed to” be like after having your child.

The is no RIGHT Postpartum Body

The truth is, there’s no “right” way but there are so many things to consider when we are forming and growing our body image after having a baby. If you identify as a woman, chances are your body has held a lot of meaning for you throughout your life. Our bodies are tied to our perceived worth.

We have been told to measure our value based on how much our body does (or does not) align with women in magazines, in movies and now even on social media. We have measured our social acceptance by how easily we can fit into a group based on the way we look. It is taught to us from a young age that our desirability as a woman, our sexuality and attraction, are dependent on if we look like “that woman.” Without a doubt this impacts our confidence as we form beliefs about ourselves and who we are and what we can do.

Related: Where do we learn about postpartum?

how to address body image after you have a baby

Should You “Bounce Back” Right After Baby?

Now, after having a baby, so much is different. Unfortunately, it’s easier to access messages that tell us “how to bounce back” or “how to lose the baby weight fast” than it is to learn about the changes that have happened in our bodies and the ways to nurture and heal them with intention and grace.

When it comes to our body image after giving birth, we are responsible for what we let in and out of our body and minds. 

Related: Committing to Authenticity

Inside Thoughts About Postpartum Body Image

Ask yourself the following questions
What self-criticizing thoughts do I have?
When do I have them?
How are they trigged?
What happens because of that thought?

It’s not realistic to expect ourselves to never have self-critical thoughts. Sure, it would be nice, but realistically we have to remember we are conditioned to criticize ourselves.

The goal here is to figure out when and where these thoughts are triggered and then to have a plan of action to shut them down so the thought does not have a domino effect.

Example: When I undress to get into the shower, I see my saggy breasts. Then I look all over my body and feel worthless because I should have lost the baby weight by now. I continue to look at all the areas of my body that I feel insecure about and that makes me feel like my partner shouldn’t be attracted to me. It makes me feel like other women are doing it better and I don’t want to go out in public because I’m ashamed.

The Domino Effect of Body Image

Maybe this isn’t your exact situation, but take time to identify what yours is. Now, how do we interrupt this thought pattern? In the example above we can stop at the breasts. When I undress to get into the shower, I see my saggy breasts. Sure, I wish they were perkier, but I remember that they changed because my body grew my baby. Remember that the body changes very naturally in response to pregnancy, birth, and postpartum and that it takes time for all of that to heal. I am thankful for what my body has done and I recognize that every mom heals differently- it looks different for each of us. I would never want a friend to criticize her own body and I won’t criticize mine.

Related: 5 tips for communicating with your partner

Outside Input Impacting Postpartum Body Image

Ask yourself the following questions:

What influences my understanding of my postpartum body?
Did I ever learn about all the changes that have happened inside of me?
What social messages are making me feel insecure about myself?

In Postpartum Together small groups I’ve learned that many women gain a healthier body image after understanding what happens to the body to prepare for birth, give birth, and recover from birth. There are many layers of changes and yet not many places to learn about them.

On top of that, our social media and other spaces are filled with invitations and messages centered around losing the baby weight- often led by those who don’t have a clear understanding of how to safely do that after baby. (Accountability or workout groups led by someone who is not trained in pre and postnatal care are not your friends after giving birth.) The ball is in your court to learn about the changes and to be selective about what messages you allow as input. It’s more than okay to unfollow an account, to stop watching a show, to throw away a magazine, etc.

taking control of your postpartum body image

Postpartum Body Image Goes Deeper: The Past

Postpartum is a wonderful time to heal your body image. It’s a time when it is doing so for ourselves, but also because our children will learn from us. When we start to heal body image, we must start by looking back.

Ask yourself:
How were you raised to think about your body?
How did your mother or other women talk about their bodies in front of you?
What was your experience in adolescence with a changing body?
What insecurities and thought patterns do you remember?

Many women identify patterns from their upbringing. Perhaps your mother was always dieting or talking about how her clothes looked. It could be that puberty was uncomfortable and you never found a safe space to talk about it. Maybe you grew up seeing a certain type of woman on TV and it led you to be self-critical. To more forward, we have to look back enough to see where our thoughts and beliefs were formed so that we can rewrite them. If this feels like a lot to do on your own, that is very understandable. A space like Postpartum Together may be beneficial for you, or it may be a topic to discuss with a therapist.

RELATED: How to find a Therapist

How Body Image Impacts Other Things

When thinking about healing your body image, realize it goes beyond the self-talk you experience about your body.
Body image impacts the risks we take with meeting new people and going new places.
It impacts how we feel confident in ourselves which can impact things like work.
Body image has a big impact on our relationships too. We talk about this a lot in the Back in the Sack eCourse, but here are a few things for you to consider when it comes to body image after baby and how it impacts your marriage/relationship.

What role has your body played in your relationship?
Have you held a lot of value in being “sexy”?
Does your partner comment on your changed body?
Have you had an honest conversation about how you’re feeling about your body?

Layers of Postpartum Body Image

There are many layers to body image in all part of our lives, but even moreso after having a baby. It’s okay to have complex feelings about this. Know that taking the time to address and heal your body image right now will have an impact on your life forever. You can set an example for your kids, improve communication with your partner, gain confidence, and take pride in your changing body, but it takes work.

Related: Sex After Baby, Am I Ready?

woman looking in mirror.jpg

Connect with Other Moms and Get Empowering Coaching for a Healthy Postpartum Body Image

We want you to have a season of growth and healing of your body image as a new mom. We invite you to find the next Health Body Image After Baby small group. In this group we address the things that impact our body image, how our postpartum body changes, and how to develop a healthier relationship with our bodies after baby. Find the info on our new mom group page.

marriage, Postpartum

Setting Healthy Boundaries After Having Your Baby

How to Set Boundaries After Baby for You and Your Family

Often I hear from clients and moms on social media that after their baby was born, they felt out of control. People wanted to visit. There were so many opinions. There was so little sleep and time to connect as a new family.

Whether you’re the kind who wants space after baby or wants visitors waiting at the door, it’s important to be on the same page with your partner and support people and to have boundaries in place that help you have what you need (because believe it or not, momma, YOU and YOUR NEEDS are really important). struggling to set boundaries with family after having my baby

Boundaries are How We Communicate Our Values to the World

Have you ever felt mean or even “bitchy” for needing and setting boundaries? Especially as women, we are often raised to be people pleasers. And yet, this is exhausting and doesn’t take our needs and desires into consideration. It is important to be a kind and giving person, but in order to truly do that, you need to establish boundaries.

Finding our values

When we set boundaries, we are challenged to identify and communicate our values. We must look at what we have the time, energy, space, resources for and what we do not. Boundaries communicate what we believe as a family and how our values reflect that. Setting boundaries leaves less room for confusion and resentment. Boundaries Can be Hard to Set For many, setting boundaries is very difficult. It can create a pit in the stomach and a fear of offending someone else.

Confidence in boundaries

While asking for and accepting help is vital for new families, so is having boundaries around what is helpful and what is not. While boundaries may feel uncomfortable at first, they can help you avoid even more discomfort doing the road. Without boundaries, you may have difficult and tense conversations and interactions in the heat of the moment. Without boundaries, you will likely experience your own resentment and feelings that interfere with your needs and emotions.

Related: How to find a therapist

Set Boundaries After Baby Inside and Outside of the Home

Inside the Home

When it comes to setting boundaries as a new family, you want to consider what you need inside your home and outside of your home. Boundaries inside the home include boundaries with your partner, with your time and with who comes in and out of the home.

These boundaries directly impact your “safe space.” For new moms this might mean setting boundaries that ensure that you have time to sleep and not host visitors. This might mean that anyone who wants to see the baby can also help with something around the house. This might mean being on the same page with your partner about the time you each need to yourself. It also includes setting boundaries around how you make decisions for things like sleeping and eating for your baby.

Outside of the Home

When it comes to setting boundaries outside of the home, this may be where you are willing to take baby. This could be deciding when you’re ready to attend a big family function or what kind of social events you want to be apart of. This means learning to say “no” to things that aren’t fully in line with your values so that you can say “yes” to the things most important to you.

In the current midst of COVID-19, setting boundaries both inside and outside of the home include being on the same page with your partner about the kind of restrictions you want in place as far as visitors, leaving the home, childcare, work, etc. Boundaries may mean that you are finding creative ways for family to get to know your baby. Boundaries may mean that you are doing things like grocery delivery to avoid the stores. There is no “right way” to approach this, except for being on the same page after conversation and research. (We will look at how to do this below.)

Related: Postpartum During COVID

Deciding on And Holding to Boundaries

1. Prioritize: Decide what is most important for you- for your time, your energy, your presence. Think about what you can let go of and what you feel firmly about.

2. Communicate: Use verbal and non-verbal tools for communicating with your partner and/or support team.

3. Examine Mind and Body: Know the implications of boundaries- what feels mentally taxing? What takes an emotional toll? Approach your boundaries out of these root needs/effects. Adjust as needed.

4. Define Circles: You likely have different levels of intimacy with different circles in your life. Define these circles and who is in each of them. Who is part of decision making? Who gets more intimate parts of your family?

5. Define Activities: What activities are you comfortable with? Specifically with COVID, what approach does your family take and why? How can you communicate these to others outside of your home?

6. Listen, Learn, Respond: Set an intention for listening without emotional charge. Learn from those you trust. Respond with firm kindness.

How to Prioritize Your Family Boundaries

making boundaries for your family with values
  • List top 5 values of your family and put them somewhere you both/all can see

  • Check with these values when you need to make a decision

  • In a new situation, schedule a “meeting” and commit to both doing prior research so you can make educated decisions together

  • Unite in your front of communicating boundaries as a team

RELATED: Marriage, Teamwork and New Parenthood

How to Communicate Boundaries After Baby with Your Partner

communicating with your partner about boundaries
  • Shared google document

  • Shared calendar

  • Physical whiteboard/journal

  • Weekly meeting (different from date night)

  • Deciding what you each can and cannot negotiate on

If boundaries feel like a big and difficult topic, you are not alone. We aren’t always taught to set healthy boundaries for ourselves and it’s not often we are given tools and tips for communicating our needs. It’s my hope that some of these points and tips resonate with you, normalize your experience, and give you the tools you need for boundaries that feel empowering for you.

Help with Setting Boundaries After Baby

If you want to set health boundaries and you are currently expecting, check out our next Postpartum Planning Small Group. If you are a new mom and want help setting boundaries after baby, check out one of our New to the Mom Crew or After the 4th Trimester small groups. There is a small group to support you in all your needs!

We talk about boundaries as a conversation to have with your partner during pregnancy in the Creating Your Postpartum Plan eCourse. This comprehensive eCourse helps you to prepare for postpartum by working through the changes you may face and how you want to lay the foundation for your family. You get a 10 page download to complete your own personalized plan while working through the instructional videos. In this course we talk a lot about boundaries because it can be hard to anticipate what your needs will be and what the reaction from others will be, but by proactively working with your partner and support team, you can ensure that you find and use your voice and set healthy boundaries.

Postpartum

Sex After Birth: When & How to Approach Postpartum Sex

How do you know when you’re ready to have sex after birth?

husband wants to have sex but i just had a baby and i’m not sure if i’m ready

Do you need to be ready to have sex again 6 weeks after giving birth? If you get an “all clear” from your doctor or midwife at your checkup, does that mean you should feel ready for sex again?

A lot of women find themselves confused and feeling isolated when it comes to the conversation of sex after baby. Who can you talk to about sex when you’re a new mom? Can you bring it up at playgroup or with your friends? Women feel like they should be ready, even if they aren’t. This leaves new moms wondering if they’ve done something wrong, if their body is “broken” or if they are disappointing their partner.

The pressure to be ready for sex after birth can come from many places.

  1. Many providers mark the 6-week check up with an “all clear” to return to sex and exercise.

    While some providers take time to discuss all the changes a woman has experienced after having a baby, many women have felt rushed in these appointments and deduced to being sexual and fit again. This conversation of “your vagina is healed, you can have sex and exercise” creates a layer of pressure for a mom to be ready for intercourse.

  2. Pressure can come from a society that prioritizes sex in many ways

    There is an underlying assumption that a new mom “owes” sex to her partner because the partner has waited until mom is physically able again.

  3. Some women feel pressure from partners who don’t understand all the changes of new motherhood.

    A partner may feel like an “all clear” from a doctor is the green light everyone needs. When women are taught so little about their natural changes in postpartum, partners have even less understanding. This can be confusing and cause resentment in couples.

RELATED: Is this Weird for Everybody? Postpartum Sex

mom is not sure what to expect having sex after giving birth.

So What Does It Mean to be “Ready” for Sex Again?

A woman needs more than healed stitches to be ready for sex. It is a mental, emotional AND physical experience and transition. Some women are ready to get “back in the sack” right away, but for many women this is complicated and takes more time than the prescribed “all clear.”

Physically Ready

Being physically ready for sex includes healed birth sites- whether that is vaginal or cesarean (or both). This is usually what your medical provider is checking for you and giving an “all clear” for at a follow up appointment. Your pelvic floor undergoes a lot of changes and sometimes damage through birth and delivery. Many countries have pelvic floor physical therapy as standard care. In America, this is often something the new mom must seek-out. Pelvic floor physical therapy can be extremely beneficial if you’re struggling with incontinence, a “bearing down” weight on your pelvis and/or if sex is painful at any point. Many women (including myself) find sex to be significantly better after pelvic floor rehab. Breastfeeding can create a different feeling in your breast. If your breasts have been players in sexual experiences previously, you may need to address the change in sensation, feeling or even breast pain as you adapt to breastfeeding. Breastfeeding can also cause more vaginal dryness meaning- lots of lube is needed!

RELATED: Do I need to Exercise My Pelvic Floor?

Mentally Ready

Motherhood, especially early motherhood, takes a lot from you mentally. Your day is filled with figuring out how to take care of baby, set new schedules, making appointments, figuring out naps and feedings, etc. On top of this, your hormones are continuing to shift and many women are met with some mental health struggles in postpartum.

It is just as important for a new mom to be mentally ready for sex as it is for her to be physically ready.

When you are thinking about engaging sex again, consider what mental roadblocks you are facing. Is it hard to find time to think about anything sexual and therefore, get in the mood? Are you facing anxiety, depression or another struggle impacting your libido and mood? Is your changed body creating self-talk that is impacting your confidence?

Once you are able to identify these mental roadblocks, they are important conversations to have with yourself, a trusted friend and your partner. Working through these things not only has a positive impact on your sex life, but your life and motherhood overall.

feel like i’m not ready for sex after birth but my husband really wants it

Emotionally Ready

If we feel depleted, it can be hard for us to connect. If we feel resentment or like our needs aren’t being met, we can shut down. Being emotionally prepared for sex can mean having our cup filled and feeling safe and accepted. This could be seeking self-acceptance, acceptance from our partner, etc.

If you are feeling depleted and/or disconnected, prioritize intimacy that is not necessarily sexual, but creates space for you to be seen and feel connected. This could be intentional conversations with your partner, foreplay, body acceptance practices and self-talk, etc.

RELATED: Postpartum Emotions

Words from the Postpartum Together Community

When I asked my online community what they would like to say to a mom who is thinking about sex again after baby, here is what they had to say. May these words help you remember you’re never alone, motherhood and relationships are messy, and there’s no one “right” way or timeline for you.

  • Listen to your body and take the time you need (before and during)

  • Talk to your spouse about your insecurities and what they can do to help

  • Use lots of lube

  • Stop if you’re in pain or uncomfortable

  • Start by taking a shower and appreciating this new you

  • It’s okay to not be ready. Your body is a priority.

  • Don’t feel bad if you need to stop

  • Don’t force anything

  • Sometimes your mind is your biggest enemy. If you feel ready, try. If it’s not comfortable, stop.

  • Lots of foreplay

  • It can be scary and overwhelming

  • Talk about it. A Lot. Take it slow. Try and relax.

  • You create your own timeline

  • Your husband doesn’t care that things are in different places- he loves all of you, not parts of you.

  • Go for it if you’re ready. It can help you return to parts of yourself that you have forgotten in motherhood.

  • Speak up about what feels good and what needs to be different

  • Decide to make it more about you and have fun

  • It’s okay if you don’t want to have intercourse but do find other ways to connect with your partner

  • You are still sexy

  • Just because there is societal pressure doesn’t mean you’re ready

  • Everyone’s experience is different and that is okay

Related: Setting Boundaries After Baby

Everyone’s experience is different. 

That is okay. Your experience is valid. 

There are ways to move into intimacy and sex, but there are not timelines or guidelines you need to abide by.

Having sex after birth is different for everyone, but there are a number of things you can evaluate to help you know if you are ready, what your needs are, and how to communicate that with your partner.

FREE DOWNLOAD:
6 Questions to Help You Get Back in the Sack

(Click to download)

sex after baby hurts, i don’t know if i’m ready for sex after birth, postpartum mom wants more time before sex again
marriage, Postpartum

Marriage After Baby: 5 Communication Tips to Save Your Relationship

5 TIPS FOR COMMUNICATING POSTPARTUM TO YOUR PARTNER

Postpartum is a huge transition. Our partner doesn’t understand all we are going through. It’s not surprising that marriage after baby and communication needed can be difficult in those early days (and beyond!)

The truth is they are also undergoing a huge transition AND we can use a few intentional tools to shed light on the things we are experiencing and needing as moms. By being purposeful about communicating your postpartum experience to your partner, you can improve the postpartum relationship and be a team in postpartum recovery.

When we talk about postpartum, people often assume it can be boiled down to postpartum sex, postpartum depression, and your postpartum body. Yes, these are factors, but there are MANY MORE. Helping our partners to understand the wide array of transitions we are experiencing, AND normalizing the reality that postpartum is more than just 6-12 weeks, we can have less misunderstandings and resentment and more of a team approach to this new way of family.

RELATED: Back in the Sack: Postpartum Sex

marriage changes after baby

WE CAN ALL AGREE THAT:

  • In postpartum, a lot of changes from the start and continues to change for weeks, months and years beyond.

  • Limited time together as a couple can cause added stress.

  • Shifting the focus on the baby means less focus on one another.

  • Sleep deprivation is hard on everyone involved.

You can tell your partner, in a moment of frustration, that he (sub she if applicable) doesn’t understand. He probably already knows this, though, and your reminder doesn’t help. Read on for things to try instead to help your marriage after baby.

1. Marriage After Baby: Pass Along What is Helpful to You

Do you find yourself following social media accounts or reading blogs to help you understand your own postpartum experience?
Do you have a go-to place that you learn and normalize with other women?
Have you googled a scenario and found information on a specific webpage?

Forward this to your partner. Share with him the accounts, pages, or books that have been most helpful to you.

Give him some insight into your thinking by passing along some outside insight.

sharing the mental load of parenthood through communication

(Important: This does not mean YOU do all the reading and work and pass along the cliff notes. Marriage after baby is STILL a 2-way street. You do NOT need to create more work for yourself. You simply pass it along and let him know that this information would be helpful for him to know and improve mutual understanding.)

Topics that you may want to pass along to your partner include:
Breastfeeding/pumping: Choosing to or not to and the implications of that
Birth Trauma
Hormone changes
The mental load of motherhood
Deciding to return to work or not return to work
Keeping a family schedule
Society pressures women face that men usually do not (body back, milk production, always joy)

2. Marriage After Baby: Change Criticism into Questions

This goes for both partners- so this is something to discuss and keep coming back to. In the heat of moments, it’s easy to throw around criticisms. I’m not immune to this, but training the brain for this mental shift can save a lot of heartache and the temptation of escalated emotions. When I want to criticize my husband, I try to remember to turn it into a question. Sure, I might think he’s totally sucking at something… but let me give him the benefit of an explanation and his perspective.

Usually, this insight allows us to connect. I ask the same of him- what he might see as an explosive wife might be a postpartum mom who feels lost in her escalated emotions that she doesn’t understand but is surely tied to a huge hormonal shift. Asking questions gives us both the chance to understand. Partners who understand postpartum more become not only better parenting partners, but better advocates in the workplace, communities, and beyond.

3. Marriage After Baby: Use a Code Word/Phrase

Sometimes we know that what we are going to say isn’t what we want to say. Sometimes a question or comment can provoke us to say it anyway… here enters the need for a code word or phrase. Having a keyword or phrase allows you to say “Not right now” to your partner and create a barrier. Give yourself the time to be in your emotions without reacting to them… and then plan a time to talk when you feel more rational and at peace.

4. Marriage After Baby: Share Lists and Resources

Trying to juggle doctor appointments, baby meds, grocery needs, and the ongoing to-do list? Let me tell you right now- you do not have the mental capacity for this. You do not need to carry that alone and your partner most likely doesn’t expect you to. Using a few resources to share the load can help everyone breathe a little more.

  • Utilize a family calendar. Whether this is digital or physical (check out this family whiteboard or this JUMBO calendar)

  • Share a digital grocery list that makes it easy to add when needed or know what to pick up when someone has a chance to stop at the store. We use Anylist

  • Have a priority-based to do list. Personally, one of my biggest triggers is my husband saying “What can I do to help?” Don’t get me wrong, the gesture is great but I don’t want to have to mentally think through what’s a priority. By using tiered lists, either of us can easily see what’s most important when spare time arises. We use Todoist

shared family calendar for mental workload of motherhood

5. Marriage After Baby: Be Mindful of Your Language

The way WE talk about our postpartum frames the way we encourage others to talk about our postpartum. If we want a cultural and societal shift, it has to start in our homes and this starts with how we talk to our partners. Take out the word “babysitting” when it is truly shared childcare. Take out phrases like “help me out by doing the dishes” and replace with “we need the dishes done.” Instead of saying “I’m just feeling crazy right now” say something like “I’m feeling overwhelmed with my emotions and I am not my best self.”

If we want the narrative, the societal expectations and norms to shift… we have to make these small shifts ourselves. Partners who understand postpartum more become not only better parenting partners, but better advocates in the workplace, communities and beyond.
So now I know what you’re thinking- this shit takes work. I know. I tried to find loopholes and couldn’t… but I leave you with these tips in hopes that you can feel more understood and supported in your postpartum- specifically from your partner. A supported mom is an empowered mom and empowered moms change the world.

Date Night Planner for Marriage After Baby

Wondering how to take the work out of reconnecting with your partner? I have you covered. Grab this Free Date Night Planner so when you have the time, you can use it to really connect!

marriage, motherhood

Working Together with Your Partner After Baby

5 WAYS TO BE ON THE SAME TEAM

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SOMETIMES MY HUSBAND DRIVES ME NUTS.

No one in their right mind will tell you that parenting is a breeze. On top of that, we know that doing this new, messy, and overwhelming journey while trying to keep clear and positive communication with a partner can be… well… challenging and can leave you fighting with your husband over parenting styles or feeling alone. There are, though, ways to remember you’re on the same team in parenting and improve marriage and parenting communication and collaboration.

At work, you know that operating cohesively takes a plan and intention. Some things are emotional, some are logistical. The mix of both is needed and parenting isn’t any different. These 5 communication tips just might help you increase understanding, decrease assumptions, be efficient and purposeful and enjoy your time together as a family more. (As always on this page- every family and dynamic is different and I don’t believe in “flawless how-tos” so know that some of these will apply to you, some might not, and you might have other ideas to add!)

RELATED: Back in the Sack: Sex and Intimacy

always mad at my husband since we had a baby
  1. LISTS, LISTS AND MORE LISTS

Keeping tabs on what needs to be done can be key. In our home, we have tier 1, tier 2, and tier 3.
Tier 1: Non-negotiables. Worth losing sleep for.
Tier 2: It would benefit our life if we did these things. Choose them over most other options in “free” time
Tier 3: This would be really nice, but doesn’t come before sleep or other means of sanity seeking.

Lists can take the form of digital or tangible, but don’t leave them to mental. That never turns out well. Call it a “to-do” list or give it a name that feels fun to you.

Here are a few suggestions:
Anylist: Keep a running grocery list. If someone is out and can stop, they know what is needed. Share the list and you can both add to it anytime you notice you’er running low on something or have a new recipe in mind. This takes out the “Remember, I asked you to pick up ____?” Nope.

Trello: This app is often used for business, but is very relevant to sharing the tasks that need done in the family. You can create shareable boards and “cards” on each board. Make the boards your “tiers” and the cards the tasks that need completed. You can move them when completed.

Google Doc: You know how sometimes you start a heavy conversation at an inopportune time because you don’t want to forget about it or miss your chance? Doesn’t usually pan out well, does it? Share a running Google Doc where you can write the conversation topics you want to address when you have the time. (Make sure to schedule this time weekly/nightly/what works for you!) When you get a chance to talk, pull up the document and get the conversation going when you’re not in the heat of the moment.

Whiteboard on the fridge: No app here. Classic, simple, easy.

2. MAKE EXPECTATIONS CLEAR

We have a tendency to believe that other people know what we are thinking. Usually, we don’t marry mind-readers so this doesn’t work out well.  Clear expectations can be key. Sometimes it means saying what you think should be abel to be left unsaid. Over-communicate for clarity and understanding. You’re going to want to set up expectations at different times, too, as they are always evolving. Perhaps you walk through the house and address anything you can think of in each room. Take notes if needed (that Google shared document again!) Have clear lines that divide you and your responsibilities and have shared things that can be picked up in a spare moment. Schedule your “you” time too so you know it is a priority and a time that the other can’t expect you to be diving into the to-do lists or picking up extra responsibilities.

RELATED: Postpartum Together Small Groups (We get real about ways to make partnership work!)

3. ROOT DOWN AND REMEMBER

Take time to root down in your values as a couple.
Create a vision board together.
Return to your 1 year, 5 year, 10 year goals and plans.
Revisit what made you start this journey together.
Have conversations that are filled with dreams AND take time to acknowledge together the goals you have accomplished and the dreams you’re fulfilling.

Remember- you are in a season. Some days it feels like a lifetime, but this season is not forever. Roles, expectations, needs- they will continue to change. Marriage in each season brings challenges, but sticking together helps ease through them.

how to share the mental load in parenting

4. LET YOUR PARTNER HAVE HIS/HER OWN WAY OF PARENTING.

Have you ever found yourself subtlety (or not so subtlety) telling your partner that you’d do it this way  or ___ isn’t good for the baby/child? Do you find yourself leaving too descriptive of an agenda when you’re leaving the house? Might you be a helicopter partner? Chill out a bit. Your partner is a parent too and he/she has made it this far- let them parent and parent their own way. (This doesn’t apply if you have reason to not trust your partner, in which case, that’s a bigger conversation than we’re having here.)

5. DATE YOUR PARTNER

Have date nights with the rule of NOT talking home logistics, parenting, etc. You are parents, but you are still partners and individuals and you need time to talk about the things that brought you together and keep you building your life together. This is a great time to revisit those goals and dreams. Watch comedy and laugh. Share what you’ve been doing or reading outside of parenting. Do a hobby together. I KNOW I KNOW it’s really hard to get a date (sitters, bedtimes, finances, etc.). It doesn’t even have to be out, you can check out these great ideas (I seriously NEED those pretzels!) for some at-home date nights ideas for when the kids are sleeping (That happens now and then, right?)

So remember- in the midst of this all- you are a TEAM. Communicating and collaborating takes intention. It takes time in the moments you feel like you don’t have a second to spare. It takes listening and speaking truthfully. But you- you can do it. You’ve got this. It won’t always be pretty (let me just normalize that because I KNOW it’s true) but you’ve got this.

Need to make it easier? Download this quick and easy Date Night Planner so that when the moment comes, you can get right to a date you enjoy!

communicating with your husband after having a baby

You’re on the same team: Team grow the kids, keep the house livable, have personal growth and fulfillment, and love one another.

The seasons change and so do you. Communicate. Collaborate. Celebrate. Do these things together as often as possible.

Tell me- how do you and your partner stay on the same team?


working from home with your partner

Related: Sex After Baby

marriage, Postpartum

Sex After Baby

IS SEX AFTER BABY WEIRD FOR EVERYONE?

There’s a reason SEX is one of the main topics discussed in the group coaching program I run, Postpartum Together, Sex is affected by every transition we face in postpartum AND it flows into all the areas.

This site may contain affiliate links to products. This means, at no additional cost to you, I may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

how long do people wait to have sex after baby

SEXY TIME JUST GOT AWKWARD

Oh hey momma- There aren’t many things that are more awkward than sex after having a baby.

You are a few weeks (or months) out from having the baby. FINALLY the house is quiet with no cries of hunger or a dirty diaper. “This is our chance” you tell your significant other. You get to the bedroom and you start to undress the mombod you’ve acquired. Maybe this feels invigorating, but for many women, this comes with a lot of overwhelming feelings. In general, marriage with young kids can be hard!

Whether you had a vaginal delivery, a cesarean, or your baby came out your ears, your baby-making area is not the same as it was just days, weeks or months prior. To be fair- your mind and emotions are not the same as they were either. You have undergone what is arguably the biggest transition possible for a woman. So here you are trying to re-engage in intimacy with your partner- you know, the kind of intimacy that created this little human being- and yet it often doesn’t feel like a smooth transition. A lot of women feel alone in this which brings shame and guilt. Women feel like they have something “wrong” with them. The reality, more women feel like this than we often believe and momma friend- you aren’t alone. In my virtual postpartum coaching group, Postpartum Together, a number of women have shared this being one of the most difficult transitions not just physically, but emotionally and mentally too.

It’s weird. It’s messy. Oftentimes it’s painful.

BIRTH, SEX AND HORMONES

Pregnancy and childbirth is extremely hormonal. These hormones can have an effect on both your mental/emotional sex drive. They can alter your physical libido, natural lubrication and body preparation for sex. Perinatal mood disorders (postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, postpartum psychosis, PTSD) can also play a huge role in reluctancy, disinterest, and even fear of engaging in sex. Physically, the body has changed and sex can be painful. However, sex should not always be painful. If you are continuing to experience pain, get yourself to a physical therapist! While it’s not regularly talked about, pelvic floor PT is often necessary for moms post-birth and from experience, I can tell you it’s worth it!

When surveyed, a large number of women shared that on the first attempt at post-baby sex, they cried.
A large number shared that, on the first attempt, it just didn’t happen.

To bring some light and normalization, I recently took to the trusty Instagram to survey this hot topic. You’ll read what other moms say prohibit them from engaging in sex, how they described sex after baby, and some tips and ideas for making it happen and enjoying it again.

RELATED: Back in the Sack, Free Postpartum Sex Guide

postpartum sex pinterest-min.png

WHAT’S KEEPING WOMEN FROM ENGAGING IN SEX AFTER A BABY?

When polled, women of different ages, backgrounds, number of children, etc. responded with a number of related factors that play into sex:

-Not feeling it
-Postpartum anxiety which seeped into my sex life
-Sex came last to everything we had to do in caring for a newborn
-I was tired and didn’t feel like it
-Trauma from birth
-Stitches- even after I mentally knew they were healed, it was a weird thing
-Exhausted
-Having a baby always close by
-Not feeling sexy
-Feeling touched out
-Fear of pain
-Time
-Feeling like an exhausted dairy cow (breastfeeding!)
-Not confident in my appearance
-Being over stimulated
-Turning off mom brain and focusing
-Stretch marks
-Leaky boobs
-I’ve already given all of myself
Time, pain and anxiety were the three most common responses. Are these relatable to you? Let me know in the comments which reason resonates (or if it’s something else!)

THERE’S NO TIME FOR SEX:

Time: It’s no secret that babies take a lot of time. They are fully dependent, they lack sleep consistency, and any wrench in the schedule can take days to repair. This leaves parents feeling tired and with little “free” time for all the things they hope to accomplish.

PAINFUL POSTPARTUM SEX

Pain: Both vaginal and cesarean births come with changes to our bodies that take time to heal. After going through something as big (and sometimes traumatic) as birthing a child, the fear of returning or lingering pain is a reality for many women. Keep reading below for some insight from a professional on sexual pain.

RELATED: Fourth Trimester Restore (eCourse for pelvic floor and core rehab) Mention Chelsea at checkout

ANXIOUS ABOUT HAVING SEX AGAIN

Anxiety: Whether it’s a diagnosed case of postpartum anxiety or the specific areas of anxiety related to this new stage, anxiety can but a halt in our desires and effort for sex. In our survey anxiety was most frequently linked to body image and care for the baby. A woman who feels insecure in her body feels anxious about reengaging intimacy with a new look and feel. A woman who is continually worried about the well-being of her baby has a hard time getting her mind in the mode to be intimate.

SO WHEN WOMEN GET TO THE SPACE OF ENGAGING IN SEX AFTER HAVING A BABY, HOW DO THEY DESCRIBE IT?

-Painful
-Very rare
-The same
-Slow
-A process requiring patience and realistic expectations
-Limited
-Non-existent
-Tender
-Uncomfortable
-Interesting
-A nice thought, but not a reality
-The last thing on my mind
-Unexpectedly painful
-Not happening
-Well needed bonding time
-Horrible
-The best
-An afterthought
-Weird
-Exhausting and leaky
-Took 10 months
-Cringey
-Better
-Extra stitch
-Daunting
-Last thing on my mind (which causes some marriage rifts)
-Slow-going
-Painful
-Not on the radar
-Nerve wracking
-Boring
-Amazing

As you read, a large majority of these descriptors link back to the fears and reluctances we read above. If postpartum sex isn’t as glorious as you would like it to be, there seem to be a number of women who are in the same boat. For some women, though, sex is better than ever after a baby.

IDEAS TO HELP GET BACK TO INTIMACY (WHEN YOU’RE FEELING GROSS/ANXIOUS/TIRED/PAIN):

The majority of women surveyed feel like their sex life has taken a hit post- baby for a number of reasons. These are important things to talk with your partner about (Click for a free Date Night Planner download!)

When we normalize the struggle, and share some possible ideas for improvement, we all win! Here’s what the community has to say:

-Watch comedy/stand up- laugh together to connect and loosen up
-Don’t force it- go for it on a day you feel more human
-Take a shower
-Wear your baby out all day or get a sitter
-Look in each other’s eyes and touch face
-Massages, hanging out in bed, cuddling
-Remove the expectation of sex happening and just be intimate
-Give yourself 5 minutes to self to mentally prepare/pray
-Have honest conversations with your partner about what you feel comfortable with
-Buy yourself something that feels sexy
-Wash your face, (or other 5 min hacks)
-Shower together
-Get a spray tan
-Text throughout the day to start the conversation
-Put it on the calendar to think about it and plan
-Ask each other about what to say/do during day to prepare for it and then practice what it is they share will get them in the mood
-Steamy text messages
-Back rub
-Pinches on the butt/playful during the day
-Long hug
-Essential oils

Download your Back in the Sack Guide to help you work through sex after baby and getting back into the sack with your partner.

postpartum sex tips

One momma who indicated that sex has gotten better post-baby shared: “Wait until you’re ready. It took me probably 5 tries to be okay with having sex again. I was so scared and it hurt like hell. The first time, I stopped him and cried and he just held me. But by having a partner to communicate openly with (and lots of lube!) practice can make perfect again. Plus- foreplay throughout the days in between. We are always playfully grabbing at each other, dragging out that goodbye/goodnight kiss a little longer and sending flirty texts. I find myself wanting him SO much more and when it comes to the nights it’s more raw, passionate and wild now. Plus, I feel closer to him than ever before. There’s something about my husband witnessing and helping with labor and delivery, all the postpartum healing both emotionally and physically that brought us closer together.”

Jessica, of The REALentless Mother writes about this in her book. “I always enjoyed sex with my husband but before kids, I was extremely self-conscious about how I looked, the sounds I made, even what my face looked like. I worried about it all! As a result, I spent more time in my own head than I did enjoying the intimate moments with my husband. After having 2 kids under two, I went on a challenging yet incredible journey to find balance and enjoy my life again. I share this transformation in my latest book The REALentless Mother. On this journey one of the things I discovered was the less I cared about what others thought of me, the happier I was. This shift has had a massive impact on all areas of my life, but our sex life is one unexpected bonus. I feel free to ask for what I want, try new things, and put myself out there like never before. Since this personal transformation, I have surprised my husband with a risqué photo shoot, bought naughty board games (my absolute favorite new date night activity), and had the confidence to wear sexy new things to bed. After having two kids in two years, my body is not what it used to be, but I have never felt sexier in my own skin. Embrace and love who you are, Mama. Confidence is irresistible.”

POSTPARTUM SEX AND BODY IMAGE

Stop following “fitspiration” moms. Some of these people are paid to lose the baby weight. Some have genetics that are prone to quick loss. Some of them are dealing with medical/body issues you can’t see from the outside. There tends to be a big societal emphasis on postpartum women to “bounce” back or lose the “baby weight” but you still have a baby- you still have a body that is working through the baby process and this is not a time to give yourself a timeline and strict rules. The stress of it isn’t worth it. If someone is pressuring you, bye Felicia.

PAINFUL POSTPARTUM SEX

You might wonder if it was something you did or didn’t do during pregnancy and birth. In addition, painful sex can feel isolating and put unwanted strain on marriage. Yet, you are not alone. In fact, there are a number of women that report painful sex or pain in their pelvis after birth. In many European countries, physical therapy after baby is standard. Physical Therapy can do a number of things for your pelvic floor and body after having a baby, if you are able- check into it for yourself!

One reason for pain after birth can actually happen when the pelvic floor muscles become too tight. This can happen for a number of reasons, including birth trauma, past history of sexual abuse, and over use or improper use of pelvic floor strengthening exercises.

So, what is a girl to do? The ability to relax the pelvic floor is the goal when it comes to painful sex and pelvic pain. Michele of Mindful Mama Method gives these tips for releasing the pelvic floor.

GETTING BACK TO ROMANCE AFTER BABY

sex after baby not excited

1. Remember that you’re not the only one feeling the way you do, even if it feels like it.
2.Communicate with your partner. Maybe try one of these at-home date night ideas!
3. Love yourself fiercely!
4. Let your S.O read this too, so they can get an understanding of other mommas. Share with a momma friend (or future momma) to reminder her that we’re all in this together!
5. Let me know in the comments what I missed!

Are you a postpartum mom (or soon to be one?) If you would benefit from more support and community in your postpartum period (and who wouldn’t?), maybe Postpartum Together is for you. This is my virtual group coaching program committed to educating, normalizing and empowering your postpartum in the safety of a small group coaching experience.

marriage

Marriage Feels Harder with Kids

This is not always a Fairytale

fairytale+marriage-min.jpeg

Providing free content is a priority at Postpartum Together. This page may contain affiliate links which means, at no additional cost to you, we may receive a commission for your purchase. Don’t worry, we only promote things we believe in because we love you!

ONCE UPON A TIME….

You fall madly in love.
You get married.
You plan your futures.
You have kids.
Your family is now complete and lives happily ever after.

That’s how the storyline is supposed to go, right? That’s what we are fed in books and movies. This is the fairytale that we learn as young children and hold on to, at least to some extent, as we grow older.

There are 4 distinct times that I know I considering leaving my marriage. Once when I was nearing the end of my first pregnancy. Once when Emerson was just a couple of months old.. Once when I was 39 weeks pregnant with Sage. Once when she was 2 months old.

See a pattern here?

Let me cut to the chase- kids can make marriage really tough.

RELATED: Communication Tips for Postpartum Partners

NOT QUITE A FAIRYTALE.

Before kids I always heard about how “Seeing your husband as a dad will make you fall more in love with him!” Yeah, I mean, that’s true, but you know what’s also true? Adding kids to the family makes you doubt yourself, your partner, your relationship and more.

Sleep deprivation.
Hormone shifts.
Identify crisis.
Being entrusted to keep tiny humans alive without an owner’s manual…

new dad with onesie

These things take a toll on you. And when it takes a toll on both you and your partner, chances are your communication isn’t as graceful, your nights aren’t as snuggly (or intimate) and even your well-intentioned actions aren’t as happily received.

Before kids, I would have described our marriage as a collaborative dream and adventure partnership. Currently I would describe it as a business transaction with a little flirting in the back office on a good day.

There’s so much shit to get done. These tiny humans, they double the amount of work-mentally, physically and emotionally- exponentially. We have to be extra vigilant about the calendar, the food prep, the laundry… we are constantly working on feedings, bathings, or cleaning up from one of the two. Our brains- they’re trying to remember what time the baby woke up and what day the next doctor’s appointment is. Other than that, they feel fried.

When we both feel “off” you can hear us comparing who got LESS sleep, who spent more time cleaning, who the toddler ran all the energy out of, etc. While momma is feeling touched out and insecure in her new body, dad is feeling completely unnoticed and undervalued.

RELATED: Relationships After Baby (eCourse)

HARD? YES. NORMAL? PROBABLY.

Chances are in this stage, you don’t hate your partner, you just feel distant. You feel unseen while also feeling out of energy to see your partner. You’re pouring into the lives of little humans who NEED you to survive and it causes you to put less energy into your partner who can (most likely) survive on his/her own. The little extra things you used to do, they are probably not in the forefront of your mind right now. You probably aren’t spending as much time out of the house and with your friends, so you feel even more isolated and irritable.

Do I hate my husband? No. Will this last forever? Probably not. Are these days and nights hard? Hell yes. Are you going to make it through? You are. We are all engaging something totally new together and we need one another to make it work but we don’t even know how to take the next step sometimes. Parenting is hard. Marriage is hard. Marriage while parenting is really hard.

I’m not a therapist. I’m no marriage expert. I don’t have anything extravagant to offer. What I can offer you is this- when you feel like marriage gets hard with kids, you’re not alone. When it feels overwhelming and you can’t believe you thought the thoughts you said you’d never think… you’re not alone. When it’s the middle of the night and you’re crying wondering why you feel so alone in a room with your best friend, you’re heard. When you feel guilty because marriage and parenthood are supposed to be the two best things in your life and yet you don’t feel blissful… I got you, friend. There’s more of us than we know because these are feelings we often fly under the radar. I’m team “preserve marriage, invest in marriage and enjoy marriage,” but I’m also team “marriage is really hard and we need more safe spaces to talk about that.”

free date night planner

Looking to make date nights easier? Take out the awkward “What should we do? Conversation with this Free Date Night Planner.