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A Low Sex Drive After Birth Isn’t The End Of The World

By Anne Katz, RN, PhD

A Low Sex Drive After Birth Isn’t The End Of The World

Congratulations! You have a new baby and you’re home and happy in the bliss of new parenthood. The days and weeks go by in a blur of joy and exhaustion. And then one day it hits you – you haven’t had sex in a really long time! Your partner is getting “that” look in his eyes but sex is the furthest thought from your mind.

You probably noticed that your interest and participation in sex declined in the last months of your pregnancy. And this lack of interest typically persists after birth. The good news is that most women resume sexual activity by the time that their baby is 6 months old.

Resuming sex

Events during your baby’s birth can affect how soon you’re ready for sex – including intercourse specifically. Did you have an episiotomy or tear? Did you leak urine or feces during birth? These are usually associated with a delay in sexual activity. If you had a cesarean birth, you’ll likely be ready for intercourse sooner than a woman who had a vaginal birth.

There are some other important factors affecting sexual activity that have nothing to do with your baby’s birth. Breastfeeding, especially if it is frequent, decreases the amount of circulating hormones and may cause vaginal dryness and discomfort during sex. The exhaustion of interrupted sleep also puts a damper on sexual interest.

You may not even feel sexy right now – your body is still recovering from the 40-week marathon of creating and birthing a baby. Tension in your relationship can also affect things: differences in child-rearing attitudes as well as different levels of sexual interest can change your satisfaction with your relationship.

Give yourselves 6 months

The first six months after the birth of a baby are a time of adaptation and new rhythms for you and your partner, even if you have other children. Don’t expect life to fall back like it was before the baby came. If you’re still pregnant, talk to your spouse now about the types of changes you’ll both be dealing with post-birth.

Most books about pregnancy and childbirth have a chapter about sex but most of us don’t read it! Revisit these books when you have a quiet moment between feeding and doing the laundry. Then, try and connect with your partner in a sensual way (not sexual): have a quiet evening together with candles and soft music and perhaps begin by massaging each other. Take sex off the agenda and just reconnect. And cut yourself some slack: getting pregnant probably took some time and getting back into the swing of a mutually satisfying sex life will take even more time.

I promise you that by the time they’re teenagers your sex life will be just fine!

Dr. Anne Katz, RN, PhD, counsels women and men in her clinical practice at CancerCare Manitoba about how sex changes throughout our lives, especially when illness changes our bodies and how they function. She writes the “Sex Matters” column for Health4Women.org and is an expert contributor to Healthy Mom & Baby.


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