Postpartum

Postpartum Sex Drive: Impact on Libido and How to Get Your Sex Drive Back After Giving Birth

Postpartum Sex Drive: Libido & Lube After Giving Birth

Transcript:
L is for lube and libido, you guys, I couldn’t separate the two, we had to go into them both. Libido is sex drive and we are talking about postpartum sex drive. 

Lube and libido, both things that have a huge impact on our sex and intimacy after baby, and we’re going to break down, what happens to our libido after we have a baby, what kind of lube might be right for you, and how we can kind of get into this sexual intimacy space again, without feeling like shit.
And without just trying to get it done.
Because believe me,I know that some of us have had these experiences where we’re just trying to get it over with. And actually, I want your intimacy to be fulfilling and exciting and good for you, even as a new mom.

What Is Libido and Does It Change After Giving Birth?

Things that impact sex drive, libido in new moms

First, what is libido? And how is it impacted in the lives of new moms?
So libido is this term used to describe the sex drive or desire that one has. It might be a high libido it might be a low libido. A high sex drive, or we’re ready we’re raring to go, or low sex drive- no, I’m not interested.

Your libido can be impacted by internal and external factors. This means the hormones that are inside speak to your body, your body talks to itself and interacts with other parts, and so our hormones can tell us if our sex drive is elevated or not.

Sleep, Hormones and Libido After Birth

Other things like stress, lack of sleep, and other circumstances can impact this postpartum sex drive or libido. Specifically, when it comes to new moms, libido can be impacted by hormone levels, which we know in postpartum are all over. They’re like riding this roller coaster for a number of reasons.

But our hormones are changing, they’re going up, they’re or going down, they’re regulating in different areas. And so for some women, this might mean an escalated libido, maybe you are feeling it more than you ever did. Or, more often than not, this can be decreased levels of postpartum sex drive and libido.

Breastfeeding Impact on Sex Drive

Second, but not totally unrelated, is breastfeeding. So if you are nursing, or perhaps you’re pumping, the breastfeeding can impact libido because of the way that breastfeeding requires hormone levels to fluctuate and to change. And so what it takes to produce the prolactin that we need for lactating can also have a negative impact on our libido, it can make it much harder for us to have that desire.
RELATED: Boob Problems After Birth 

Touched out and Postpartum Sex Drive

Along the same lines is this touch out. When you are breastfeeding or you are holding your baby or snuggling, you’re doing skin to skin you have someone really dependent on you, you can very easily become touched out, you’re done. You don’t want this physical intimacy, you want your body to be left alone. This is another common factor I hear.

Feeling Too Overwhelmed and Exhausted for Sex

Another thing that can impact libido is mental overwhelm. And linked to that is exhaustion. So if you are so overwhelmed, you have so many things running through your brain, you have no time to give your brain the space to de-stress and to enter a place of even thinking about having a sex drive and having intimacy. Along with that is the exhaustion. We can’t get mental clarity, we can’t be proactive, we can’t have a lot of the things that it requires to get into that libido, sex drive space, when we have mental overwhelm and exhaustion.

Postpartum Depression and Postpartum Sex Drive

Postpartum depression, again, we’re talking about hormones. We’re talking about this kind of mental and emotional shift. Postpartum depression is often linked to low libido. Unfortunately, a lot of the medications (but not all of them) that we use to treat postpartum depression, these different SSRIs can have a side effect of lowering your libido as well. And so this is something to discuss with your medical provider.
Related: Postpartum Resources

How to Deal with Low Libido After Giving Birth

1. First, I encourage you to take away the pressure to make it to a certain ending point. Okay, so when you’re re-entering intimacy with your partner, when there’s this pressure to get to this certain place, such as an orgasm, then we have this kind of mental overwhelm. With this pressure we feel guilty. There’s a lot of interacting factors here. So take off that pressure as you’re getting back into intimacy.

Don’t focus on the ending point, but focus on the experience.Not the destination, the journey and work on how you can reinvigorate that intimacy.

RELATED: Sex After Baby, Am I Ready?

2. It’s important to know that it can take a lot more time and energy for you to warm up. This means more foreplay, which may be physical foreplay, but this might also be this mental and emotional connection that you’re requiring from your partner. If you’re feeling extremely overwhelmed, you’re going to need this communication and connection point with your partner. So that you can get into a place of knowing things are taking care of, I can take this space, I can enter a space of even thinking about intimacy and trying to reinvigorate my libido.
So let your partner know what you need.

Maybe it’s some sexy text throughout the day, maybe it is taking care of the kitchen and making sure that’s all cleaned up so that you don’t have to think about it and you can enter this intimate space. Maybe it is some physical kind of foreplay. Think about what it requires for you to warm up and give your libido a chance to even be activated.

Vaginal Dryness After Having a Baby

how to choose a good lube for postpartum sex

When you get to the place where you’re like, Okay, I found my sex drive and entering this space, I can start to get into it again, you might notice that you have a lot of dryness. So we’re going to talk also about lube and how this plays into everything.

So these hormone shifts of postpartum can also cause a lot of vaginal dryness. Breastfeeding can prolong this. I’m telling you lube, lube, lube, liberal amounts of lube when you are returning to intimacy after having a baby.

PSST: Want to know my two favorite natural lubes? Cocolube & Good Clean Love

Which Lube Will Work for You for Postpartum Sex?

For some of you that might be unusual. Maybe that wasn’t what you were used to before. Maybe you feel a little discouraged, like, Oh, do I even want this? Is my body telling me a different message? But know that vaginal dryness is very common. It won’t last forever, and lube can be your best friend.

So when we’re looking for lube, I’m actually encouraging you to be mindful of what kind of lube you’re using.
-Because it’s going in and on your vagina, which is kind of a delicate space and worth taking care of.
-Because some of them can actually not work well with you.

So one question you want to ask yourself is if this will pull any of the natural moisture out of your vagina, we don’t want this. These are the lubes with propylene glycol and glycerol. These two elements can actually extract the moisture from your vagina instead of adding extra to it.

Another question you want to ask yourself is if the lube you’re using is compatible with whatever your preferences are. So if you’re using condoms, is this a lube that is compatible with condoms? Is it something that you can use in the water? Is it toy friendly?

How to get over low sex drive after having a baby

Postpartum Sex Drive: Learn More & Talk to Other Moms

So for the taboo ABCs of postpartum for L we have chosen lube and libido because these are such important parts. And these are things that are so commonly experienced by women but not talked about. So don’t be afraid to bring this up with your medical provider with your friends with the postpartum together new mom groups because it is common to have a change in libido and it is also common to need some extra lube and there should be no shame about that.

Back in the Sack Postpartum Sex eCourse

Want to learn more about the changes in your body, mind, and emotions after a baby and how it can impact your intimacy?
Is your partner sexually frustrated and you’re unsure how to talk about postpartum sex and intimacy?
Do you want to communicate and connect better so that your sex life can improve?
Want ideas for ways to connect?

Check out Back in the Sack: A self-paced eCourse.
In this eCourse you’ll hear from a number of experts who share all about your body and brain after baby and how you can get back into the groove with confidence and connection (instead of resentment and fear).

Postpartum, Pumping

New Mom Question and Answers: Postpartum Depression, Pumping and Sex

Length of PPD, Painful Pumping, Sex Discomfort and More

This week’s New Mom Question and Answer covers pumping, sharing the load of baby care, painful sex, postpartum depression, communication and more. Read on.

New Mom Question 1: Pain while pumping, what do I do?

All right, you guys, I’m not a lactation consultant, but I was an exclusive pumper for 13 months. So I know a little bit about this. If you’re experiencing pain while pumping, there are a few things you want to look at.

My first thing that I encourage you to do is check your flange size. So the flange is the part on the outside of the pump that actually suctions on to your breast. Pumps come with a standard flange, but this might not be the right size for your breasts and your nipples. And so you want to check the flange size. You can look online for a flange check. And you may need to get a different size because if it is too big, it’s pulling too much, and it’s not working appropriately. If it’s too small, it’s going to be tight and cause some pain.

Photo from  MedelaPhoto from Medela


Potential Pumping Problems:

If that is not the solution. I want you to look into thrush, make sure that you’re not dealing with that. And also look in to mastitis, just make sure you’re not dealing with clogged ducks, and engorgement. And if you continue to have pain while pumping, try to identify where the pain is, is it deeper in your breast? Is it your nipple, and this is something you might want to talk specifically to a lactation consultant about if the flange doesn’t do the difference. And if there’s not, you know, an underlying issue like thrush and mastitis, one last thing you might want to look at is what kind of suction you’re using on your pump.

So if you are also nursing, you want this suction to mimic baby. I know how tempting it can be to up the suction, to try to decrease pumping times and I’ve been guilty of that too. But if you are having too high of a suction and too high the speed that could just be too uncomfortable for your breast

Related: Boob Problems After Birth

New Mom Question 2: Tips on Making Sex Less Painful, Especially When You are Nursing

I love that she brings up being a nursing mama because what this means is that often the hormones that are helping you to produce the breast milk are also decreasing your libido and decreasing the moisture that your vagina is able to make when you are getting in the mood or starting into sex. And so my number one tip y’all is more lube, lube lube lube, I’m going to put below the link for my favorite lube, Coco lube, and you want to be super liberal with your lube. And don’t feel any shame or weirdness about that, because your body is just not in a place to make as much as it did before.

Pelvic Floor Therapist

The second thing if you’re experiencing painful sex is to go to a pelvic floor therapist, this might be a physical therapist or an occupational therapist, often you can get a referral from your ob or midwife or just directly contact the therapist on your own. So some of these are insurance based, some of them are private pay, some of them are coming to your home, some of them are going to the office. But there’s so much that happens in that little region during pregnancy, birth and postpartum. And in many parts of the world, pelvic floor therapy is standard care. 

Rebuild the Pelvic Muscle

So it’s not weird at all, if you need to go and have someone help you to rebuild that structure in that muscle and tissue after giving birth.
If you want more information on this and just postpartum sex in general, I actually do interview a variety of people from a therapist, to a pelvic floor therapist to historians and doulas and more in my back in the sack, postpartum sex ecourse.

New Mom Question 3: Bleeding from C-Section Scar 3 Weeks After Birth

At postpartum together, we call c-sections belly birth, because you also gave birth, it just came out of your belly. Reminder/Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. I am a coach who focuses on the postpartum/new mom period. My advice is from research and anecdotal, but not from a medical degree.

What Bleeding is Normal?

So this momma is saying that at three weeks, she’s still having a small amount of bleeding. Now, I did check in with this mama a little bit more and it seems like it was fairly normal bleeding. When you look into this repair this recovery, it’s about four to six weeks when you want that bleeding to just substantially decrease or go away. This is usually the time where you have that postpartum checkup as well to check your C-section scar. But I say this also- if you feeling like something is out of place, if you’re feeling worried, it’s totally fine to check in with your provider. Send them a picture. Ask them if these things are normal. Never feel like you’re being a burden or that you shouldn’t be able to check in with your provider as you are healing.
Related: Belly birth scar massage

New Mom Question 4: Can Postpartum Depression go Off and On Through the First Year?

Yes, yes. And yes, you are postpartum which is not just depression, postpartum is the season after baby, you are a postpartum for a year-ish after baby. This means that your hormones, your neurological system, all these things can take a year or even up to 18 months to recover. We see that postpartum depression can onset up to a year postpartum because of the changes of hormones.

Read More: Baby Blues or PPD, How to Tell the Difference

You may have weaning hormones- hormones related to nursing. It is important to know that this you might see some highs, you may see some lows, you may feel like you are having this off and on postpartum depression through that first year.

Providers, Medication, Conversation around PPD

I say that to also say continue to check with your provider. If you are using medication, continue your usage of medication and don’t just like go cold turkey on that if you’re feeling good for a few days. If you’re seeing a therapist, continue to bring that to your therapist and know that you’re having ongoing changes. Postpartum depression is common, it is something that we don’t need to be ashamed of, we don’t need to leave it as taboo. And so if you are facing this, continue to talk to your provider, but know that you’re probably going to have some highs and some lows throughout that first year-ish.
Related: How to find a therapist

New Mom Question 5: How Can I Make Baby Responsibilities Shared Between a Stay at Home Mom and 40 Hour Work Week Partner?

This is a really tough one that goes into so many different layers of communication and scheduling and understanding what it actually takes to take care of a baby. So I encourage my clients who are also stay at home moms to think about that as your 40 hour a week job and then your partner has their outside of the home 40 hour a week job.

Block Scheduling

Now how do we look at the in-between and the other things that need to be done? This doesn’t mean that stay at home mom is also the default parent all night, all weekend and all the time. We don’t want to fall into that default mode. What I use with some of my clients and I actually do one-on-ones is block scheduling. This means that we aren’t just kind of wondering who’s on or hoping that the partner takes over. This means that we are being intentional and proactive about our time about who’s in charge; who’s kind of the default parent. This means that we can enjoy our time.

We can schedule in time to be together, we can really schedule in meaningful family time. But this means that we don’t have this default, where the stay at home mom is also the person who’s picking up the slack at 9pm, or the middle of the night or the weekends. Be really intentional about your communication, be really intentional about how you split that time outside of the 40 hour work week. And also honor the fact that being a stay at home mom is really freaking hard and we can count that as our work. But that doesn’t mean that our work is 80 or 120 hours a week. This means that we honor that time, we honor our partners’ other work time. And then we think about that in between and all the gaps that needs to be filled, and how we proactively fill that together.
Related: Communication after baby

Thank you guys for submitting your questions this week on Instagram you can always head over there to submit questions for the week.

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.

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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.