Sex, hugs and breastfeeding

I often hear new moms share stories about their sex lives. Usually it’s discussed with a sense of light humor, maybe a hand tossed up into the air as if to say “stop right there, honey” and a clear desire that there ain’t going be any nookie tonight!

Recently on a popular mommy blog the author commented on how motherhood had tanked her sex life. How she had no desire and would be perfectly happy to continue her life celibate. I had a strong reaction to reading that I realized. “Celibate?” I thought immediately, “how sad.”

I think this is a subject that many women don’t want to discuss necessarily because frankly, sex is so the last thing on our minds at the end of the day. There are many realities that make intimacy and sex a challenge for sure [fill in blank … tired, busy, stress, messy, been spit up on, nursed on, baby/toddler body fluids and boogers on you, touched out, ownership of our bodies, hormonal imbalance, pain and tenderness, etc, etc, etc]

I don’t have an answer for you if you’re struggling with this issue. What I can say though is that it seems to me important to address this issue. Not at 2 months post partum, maybe not at 6 months post partum … but by 12 months? I think it’s important to explore what’s going on.

I’ve seen many a women shrug away the needs of her/our partners with a hand of “you’ve no idea what’s been going on with my body so don’t bother me now”. Don’t get me wrong – I TOTALLY get it and have BTDT lather, rinse, repeat with all three of my kids. My husband is an angel for putting up with my ebb and flow of desire.

I think I’m reacting to this blog piece because I’ve come around now to a place of loving and wanting to be flirty and intimate with my husband in a way that resembles our early years pre-children. I wanted to shout out to this blogger that it does evolve and find its way again – but that it does take effort and dialog.

This experience of not wanting sex post partum seems so universal, so common among our new mommy friends.  Should we just look at it as normal then? Live with it and move through our days ignoring the need for intimacy in our lives?  Ignore the fact that we used to love it?  I don’t think so.  Common, yes. Normal, it doesn’t have to be. Time to start talking.  It might be a hormonal issue (so check in with your OB or midwife). It is almost certainly a fatigue issue. You’re exhausted most of the time!  And yes, it’s very much a “if another human comes near me to slobber, touch, pat, pull, tug, suck, snot, kiss, smooch or fondle me I am GOING TO SCREAM” issue.

I get it. But a wise woman (my midwife) said to me “if you don’t use, it you lose it”.

Did you know that hugging for 20 seconds releases oxytocin? Sometimes the best way to return to intimacy with your partner is just a gentle, prolonged hug.  And this is important –  a hug without any expectations of anything *more* after it. I know for me I was resistant to hugging because I was so afraid it would trigger a glimmer of desire in my husband and he’d spring one (pardon the expression) and then I’d reject his advances.  Which would then create a feeling of guilt and unhappiness that I got him all excited when what I really just wanted was a hug. So what’s a girl to do? Avoid the initial hug seemed the right answer.

Hugging is a good place to start though. With clear expectations about any intimacy the will (or won’t) evolve.  But HUG!

I don’t mean to make light of any of your individual issues surrounding difficulty wanting to ever have sex again. I guess I just want you to know you’re not alone. And that it can get better. My experience has been that it only gets better if you don’t ignore it as an issue. It can not be the elephant in the room. Our partners have needs too. They love us still, the same as they did before the baby. Aren’t we lucky to have partners who see the beauty in us, see emerging Divine Goddess of a woman and mother we’ve become? Isn’t it great that we can take care of our children and still be an attractive & sexy woman to our partners?

We can be both if we want – mother and sexy. So, make time to hug.  Just start with hugging.  And talking.  And maybe a rose or two on Valentine’s Day.

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With Love,

Deirdre 

(as modified from a FB post)

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