Ask a Sex Therapist: Is It Normal To Not Want To Have Sex After Pregnancy?

by Cay L. Crow

Mother in striped shirt breast feeds twins

Sex Life In The Early Days Of Motherhood

Dear Cay,

I am a 34-year-old woman with two sons, ages 2 ½ and 7 months. I am still breastfeeding the baby. My concern is that I have not felt sexual towards my husband since the baby was born. I feel guilty for my husband’s sake. He is extremely understanding of my busy “mommy” life. He never pressures me into sex (although sometimes he tries!) but I feel like I’m not being the “good wife.”. I just don’t feel sexual. I never feel the urge. My breasts are a food source, not sexual objects! Is this normal because of my still-hormonal state? Should I just give in to sex every once in a while for his sake? I love my husband; he is a good daddy and provider. Before kids, we had sex 1-2 times a week.

Anonymous

Talk to Your Husband About How You Feel About Sex

Dear Anonymous,

Congratulations on your lovely family! Those kids take more sacrifice of the self than just about anything else in your life.

What you are experiencing is perfectly normal. All your energy is going into nurturing those two kiddos. You probably don’t have time to shower most days much less have sex! But please don’t get caught in the “guilt trap” – the cycle of feeling bad then giving in to sex. There is another way to handle the situation but it will require honesty on your part. Tell your husband how you are feeling. Make sure he understands that your lack of interest in sexual contact has nothing to do with your lack of interest in him. Sexual intercourse takes energy and presence which is hard to come by at the end of a day spent with little ones. For many women, sex also requires feeling attractive and alluring; this is rather difficult with barf in your hair and Disney songs playing in your brain.

In terms of “giving in” every once in a while, the very language you are using suggests a power struggle over sex. It is important that you and your husband change that. You are not withholding something from him intentionally. And I suspect your husband, like most men, would prefer a partner who can be a present and enthusiastic participant in sex, not a partner who is going through the motions. Just having a conversation with him can change the dynamic. Something like, “I want to be interested in having sex but this is how I feel.”

One reason you don’t want to get caught in the guilt trap is that you are basically training yourself and your husband to only have sex when you feel guilty and he feels desperate; this is not positive conditioning. Instead, take a more proactive stance. The two of you sit down and figure out how you can have some adult time together. Breastfeeding raises prolactin and oxytocin levels in a woman’s body increasing the bond with her baby. But this hormonal shift can leave a woman feeling emotionally and physically satiated to the point that she is not interested in sex or touch. Time away from the kids can help. Have this “date night” once a week or once every two weeks. Get a babysitter or have grandma take the kids for a few hours. You will need to pump breast milk for this time away from the baby. Pump as much as you can so your husband can be involved in the feeding of the baby.

This couple of time is not necessarily about making love but about connecting. If you don’t want to have intercourse then consider other activities such as making out or manual stimulation. Perhaps he can stimulate himself with your involvement. You both may need to learn about your post-partum body and its new sensations. Perhaps you don’t want him touching your breasts right now. If anything, you and your husband can spoon and cuddle; this alone can increase feelings of intimacy.

If your lack of sexual desire continues for 6 months to a year after the completion of breastfeeding, it may be wise to have your hormones checked.

CAY L. CROW, LPC, AASECT-CERTIFIED SEX THERAPIST

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