We hear you on this one!
First, cut yourself some slack! You’ve housed and birthed a human being (and yes, sex is what put you in that position to begin with, but still…). And if you’re breastfeeding, you may feel like your breasts’ purpose has changed from sexual to baby feeding vessels. OK, they kind of have, but they can be both (hear us out…).
For women especially, libido (a.k.a. sex drive) is part mental. If your head isn’t in the game, your body won’t be either. For example, one recent study suggests that for women, getting sexually aroused or “turned on” starts in the mind. As you start thinking about sex, what you’d like your partner to do, what you’d like to do to them…your body in turn becomes aroused.
(Cue a skidding car…) But let’s get real. You have young children. You might have older children. No matter how old your kids are, life with them brings stress—and plenty of it. And stress is one obstacle to a budding libido.
Decreasing your stress is important—for many reasons—but you don’t have to get rid of your kids to get rid of the stress (although some days…). There are many things you can do right now, including blasting your favorite music and dancing around like a mad woman (add a vacuum and microfiber cleaning cloths to your performance and you could be accused of multi-tasking and having a clean house…but I digress…), sipping on some green tea, and locking yourself in the bathroom with your earbuds in (so you can’t hear the pounding and “Moooommmy!” on the other side of the door) with some soothing music and just…breathe…
Joining stress is fear—as in fear of getting pregnant again. If you had a high-risk pregnancy, if this whole pregnancy and baby situation has just been plain stressful on every aspect of your life, or if you just hated being pregnant…the thought of doing the act that put you in that position in the first place can seem freaking scary, undesirable, and impossible to relax enough to enjoy it. There are many ways to address your fears and anxiety, so try them out.
Experts will also tell you that being physically and mentally exhausted is also detrimental to libido, so make sure you get a good night’s sleep.
OK, so right now you’re rolling your eyes or laughing your butt off, but as difficult as a good night’s sleep might be at this point in your life, it’s still important to do what you can to get one. Kids have bedtime routines. Adults need bedtime routines, too!
Start preparing your body an hour or so before you plan on hitting the hay. Lower the lights in your house—darkness is good, because it allows your body to produce melatonin, the hormone necessary to get and keep you asleep.
Get off your devices! Not only do they blast light in your face (read the previous tip), but they’re also stimulating. C’mon! Your brain needs a break! If you insist on being on a device, use the nighttime setting or blue light glasses to relieve the eyes from the type of light that keeps you up. Try to stay away from news stories, conversations, or movies that rev you up.
Use bedtime to show a little gratitude. Writing down what you’re thankful for in a journal at bedtime has several benefits, including falling asleep faster and staying asleep longer. This is a great exercise to start with your kiddos, too…even on those days when the baby wouldn’t stop crying, the kids wouldn’t stop fighting, the laundry and dish bombs went off in your house, and you were on your fourth day with no shower…there is still something to be thankful for.
Making sure you’re eating a well-rounded, balanced diet (and not just the “mom diet” of foraging off your kids’ plates…) goes a long way in helping boost your sex drive, too. Adding a little insurance with a vitamin supplement won’t hurt, either.
Exercise has also been shown to help improve a woman's libido. Of course, if you have an aversion to it, it might seem about as appealing as having sex right now. But exercise has also been shown to help you better deal with your stress, sleep better, and improve body image. Our tip: avoid exercising to burn calories and lose weight (seriously, it makes it more of a chore). Instead, do it for the other reasons, including healing your body after pregnancy and delivery, and staying strong enough to carry the infant carrier, diaper bag, 10 bags of groceries, and the pizza for tonight's dinner all at once...and still be able to open the door with your teeth.
Birth control and other medications, including antidepressants, can also send your libido to MIA status. I remember going on one form of birth control and thinking, “Wow, this is some amazing stuff! No worries about getting pregnant. I have no desire to have sex at all!”
Lastly, consider your beliefs about your body. Have they changed—for better or worse—since having a baby? Do you feel sexy? Do you feel desirable? How has your body changed? Do you now have stretch marks or varicose veins? Are your boobs leaking milk? Do you feel anything but a sex machine?
Pssst…it’s all normal!
Try having a conversation with your partner about how you're feeling regarding your body. Chances are, they'll help put your mind at ease.
Show your body—the one that houses, births, and feeds other human beings—some respect! Seriously! Stop hating on it and honor it by taking good care of it. Self-care is not selfish! Even super heroes need a little time to recharge—including a little action in the sack when you feel like getting back in the game.
*As always, we recommend seeing your healthcare provider if this really becomes an issue for you and your relationship.