Let's Talk About Sex: Postpartum Edition
Updated: Nov 1, 2022
Photo by Mathew Henry
When I was twelve months postpartum I had completely lost touch with my sexual desire. I felt touched out and tired — you know, the kind of tired that reaches deep into your bones. So much of my focus around my sexuality became about figuring how I could muster up the energy and interest to connect with my partner. I found myself weighed down by the responsibility of caretaking my partner’s needs at a time when I wasn’t in touch with my own. My partner could tell I wasn’t interested, and had the courage to ask me what I needed to reconnect. I finally realized that what I needed more than anything was to reconnect with myself.
This meant taking the time to explore my sexuality within myself. In order to reawaken my sexuality, I needed to connect to my own desires rather than trying to figure out how to please my partner. This looked like getting in touch with my own erotic energy and developing a self-love practice. I asked myself the following questions daily: “What turns me on?” Through this process I discovered new parts of my sexuality beginning to emerge. I realized that in this stage of life as a new mother, I needed to focus on putting my life preserver on first.
What I’ve learned from my own journey is that when it comes to having good sex postpartum what we need most is to slow down and start over. Go back to the basics and rediscover who we are in this moment of our lives. I realized that just because I liked certain sexual positions in the past didn’t mean that they were still top of my list. Finding my voice in the bedroom was the most liberating experience in this new chapter of my life. Culturally, there can be this idea of getting back to how things used to be, but the truth is that birth changes us. It’s important to approach our sexuality from a fresh and unbiased place. The more we can approach our sexuality from a place of curiosity and newness, the more capable we become of connecting in an authentic way.
Postpartum sexuality is about rediscovering who we are as sexual beings. Birth changes us in every way- including our sexuality.
Through my journey of self exploration I discovered that I was an entirely different person than who I was before giving birth. My desires and preferences in the bedroom had completely shifted since becoming a mom. In reconnecting with myself sexually I needed to create space for a new version of myself to emerge.
After a lifetime of learning myself as a sexual being, I felt like I was starting over. I suddenly felt like a teenager again, awkward and timid about expressing myself. I was worried that my partner and I would no longer be aligned in our interests if I spoke my truth. But as time passed, and my inner guidance grew stronger, it became clear that the only path forward was to open up with my partner and speak my truth. One thing I needed to say out loud was that the way that I wanted sex to be initiated had completely changed. It felt so vulnerable to share this with my partner because I was afraid that these new discoveries would mean that we were no longer compatible.
The truth is that communication is the best lubrication when it comes to sex. Now, I know this might be the cheesiest shit you’ve heard all day, but I preach it because it’s the truth. I promise that your partner will not be able to read your mind.
The only way for us to deepen our intimacy is to ask for what we want and need in the bedroom.
Let’s normalize talking about sex, especially with long-term partners. With all of the images we’ve seen in the media of what sex is “supposed” to look like, we can set ourselves up with the unrealistic expectation that sex should always be unscripted. That our sexual partners should know our wants and desires without ever giving them a clue. This conditioning sets us all up for failure.
So to all of the mamas out there who are feeling touched out and turned off — know that you are not alone. Being vulnerable isn’t easy. Faced with the fears of rejection and the belief that you owe something to your partner in the bedroom, it’s natural to disconnect from your own desires. This is an invitation to reconnect with yourself. To slow down and become acquainted with this newest version of you. You are deserving of a pleasurable and fulfilling sex life.
Tips I learned from my postpartum journey:
It can be really important in this stage of life as new parents to focus on tending to your own sexuality first. If your partner’s desires are feeling intrusive that could be a sign that you are needing to tend to your own emotional and physical needs.
Three signs that you may be ready to tend to your own sexual energy:
You feel like your partner wants more sex than you.
The very thought of having sex feels exhausting or repulsive.
You feel overwhelmed or turned off by your partner’s sexual advances.
In putting your desires and needs first you may discover that your desire to connect with your partner will grow.
One of my favorite practices for reconnecting with sex postpartum is to explore what it looks like to have sex without penetration. This practice is beneficial at any stage postpartum. By taking penetrative sex off of the table it opens up an entire world of connecting in new and interesting ways. There is so much conditioning around sex being synonymous with penetration that I like to deconstruct these beliefs and begin to think outside the box. It takes work to move past the ideas that we have about sex and really connect with our desires. It takes a lot of courage to give voice to what you truly want and not just fall into routines of the past.