As new parents, few of us expect to have the same kind of sex lives we did before the baby. After all, when you consider how much sleep new parents lose, it's totally understandable if you'd rather use your bed for rest than romance.
In the first few weeks after having a baby, having sex is probably the farthest thing from a mama's mind. You're exhausted and, even if you weren't, your body is still recovering. How long a mother waits before having sex again is totally personal. But contrary to the old cliches, becoming a parent doesn't mean sex is totally banned from the bedroom.
In fact, a new survey by Peanut reveals nearly 73% of new moms enjoy postpartum sex, and almost a quarter of the women surveyed say the quality of their postpartum sex is actually better after having a baby.
The survey of 1,000 women, ages 22-37, found that "being tired" is the number one reason why new mamas aren't having more sex, and that 61% of moms would like to be having more sex (maybe after they get more sleep), and that contrary to popular belief, having kids doesn't kill your sex life.
A quarter of the moms surveyed are having sex once a week and almost 30% are getting it 2-3 times a week. Nearly 9% are having sex more than three times a week.
For some, three times a week sounds perfect. For others, this might sound like way too much. The survey also found 12.8% of moms have sex once a month, and 13.3% have it even less often, and that's totally okay.
The frequency of a new mom's sex life depends on so many things, not the least of which is her personal preference. So don't feel bad if you're not having sex as often as the women surveyed. For some moms, it does take longer to feel like having sex again, and some are more eager than others to experience sexual intimacy again.
According to Peanut, 37.7% of new moms had sex within three months of having a baby, and 52% "had sex as soon as doc gave the all clear."
That doesn't mean it's easy. More than 61% of moms surveyed said they were "afraid or nervous their first time postpartum." About 72% of those moms clarified that they were afraid of pain and 24.4% said they felt self-conscious, according to Peanut.
Pain and postpartum sex
For some women, pain isn't actually an issue once they get past the nerves, but research suggests about 17–36% report painful sex at six months postpartum (and sadly, only about 15% report brining this up with their healthcare provider).
According to a 2013 post by OB-GYN Dr. Jen Gunter, there are three common reasons for pain during postpartum sex:
- Low estrogen levels in the vagina
- Problems with a scar (especially relevant if you've had any tearing) or
- Muscle spasms due to a post-delivery tightening of the pelvic floor.
Gunter says some vaginal estrogen or pelvic floor physical therapy can help women who experience pain during postpartum sex, and encourages mamas to head to the doctor if they have any pain.
"The bottom line is sex shouldn't be painful," Gunter wrote on her blog. "If sex hurts your body is telling you there's a problem of some kind. If you're told that it's normal for sex to hurt and you're more than 6-8 weeks out from your delivery, then another opinion may be in order."
Talk to your partner and yourself
If you're in the camp that's not worried about pain but you are feeling self-conscious for other reasons, take some advice from fellow mama and life coach Kate Mason.
"The thing to remember is that sex after kids will be different," Mason previously wrote for Motherly. "And that is okay. Just like your body, your relationships, and your priorities, things shift when you have a baby. Accepting your new sex life is the first step."
She recommends having honest conversations about sex with your partner (about the timeline of the return to a sex life and how frequently you want it after that) and affirming conversations with yourself.
"I had to retrain my line of thinking. I had to tell myself, that yes, I was still sexy. And yes, my husband still finds me attractive. And yes, he still wants to do sexy, adult things to me. He was great at affirming these thoughts for me but it wasn't until I believed it myself that our sex life was reignited. Once I accepted my new body, my new role in the world, and my newfound strengths, I felt sexy. Like, really sexy. And that opened the door for a new phase in our sex life," Mason wrote, adding that her sex life after parenthood is different, but also hot.It's okay if you feel nervous, mama. It's okay if you want to wait. It's okay if you'd rather sleep. But it's good to know that you will have sex again. And, according to what your fellow postpartum mothers are reporting, it's likely to be good sex, too.