You just had your six-week postpartum visit, and your OB or midwife cleared you for sex! Now what?

As birth and postpartum doulas, we know the six-week mark doesn’t magically act as an aphrodisiac. Between hormones, baby feeding, feeling “touched out,” exhaustion and overall parenting a newborn, it can feel extremely challenging to find space to get intimate with yourself or a partner.

But, it’s important to remember that sex and intimacy are two different things. Sex is a physical experience, and intimacy is the emotional connection you share with yourself or someone close to you. They can be so closely linked or stand-alone.

Here are our seven favorite ways to cultivate intimacy postpartum.

1. Self-pleasure

The first relationship to address is the one with yourself. Whether this is a stepping stone to intimacy with a partner or the climax of your postpartum intimacy experience, self-pleasure is a safe and rewarding place. Exploring what feels good physically and emotionally is key to understanding your new body and mind. We highly suggest trying a good lubricant and sexy toy to maximize the experience.

2. Rituals

Postpartum can feel like a time vortex where hours run into days and days into weeks. Often the early hours of morning turn into dusk, and we’re not sure what, if anything, happened in between. By introducing rituals into the day, we can make time markers and create space to invite intimacy.

For example, what about scheduling a few moments of breathwork each day? Start by simply bringing attention to your breath for a few minutes. Send some deep breaths to wherever you’re looking to ignite. By practicing Breathwork we intentionally send deep and mindful breaths to places in our body we want to “ignite.” Doing so can ignite feelings of arousal or pleasure and give us a moment of peace- which, in turn, helps us feel relaxed and ready for intimacy!

3. Into-me-i-see

Intimacy, or Into-me-i-see, phrased as a question, into-me-i-see____? allows you to check-in with yourself to asses your needs and wants in the present moment.

Do you need physical touch? A nourishing meal? Alone time? A nap?

This is a chance for you to fill in the blank and ask for what you want from yourself or a partner. Being able to articulate your needs can make you feel seen and heard, both essential steps to building a healthy relationship, and in turn, intimacy.

4. Outercourse

Maybe your vulva is not ready for a play date yet, but your libido is looking for a meet-up. Have you considered making out? Cuddling? Mutual masturbation? Here’s another opportunity to throw in some lube.

5. Intimate experiences

Connecting with a partner in a new space can help hit the reset button. A short walk outside, practicing your babywearing and going out on a dinner date, or taking a hot shower or bath alone or together may be just what you need to get in the mood for an intimate moment.

6. Movement

Move your lower body! Dance, do yoga, stretch, swim. Increasing blood circulation while getting out of your mind and into your body can help stimulate feelings of excitement and arousal.

7. Do nothing

Sex and intimacy may not be of interest to you at this time—and that is completely normal and fine! A postpartum doula may be just the ticket for some self-care. It’s possible that after feeling supported and cared for by someone other than your partner or family, you can feel energized, balanced, or simply, better rested. When you can stand in your power and confidently say, “I’m not ready to be intimate right now,” you can be sure you’re taking care of your self in an honest and authentic way.

Trust your body and heart to know when they are ready for sex and intimacy.

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