I remember for my first shot at sex after having baby. I wore a gross, scratchy, white nursing bra (so I wouldn't leak all over). I didn't want him anywhere near my boobs. Keeping them locked up with lots of those paper-y nursing pads (yes, I wore a nursing bra for probably the first 5 months postpartum) was my way to communicate to him they were not open for business. I honestly think he didn't care, because it had been six weeks and since episodes of intimacy were few and far between, he would take whatever he could get! He saw my body as beautiful and sex-worthy, where I saw it as a saggy, stretch-mark-ridden version of my prior body that I was not ready to embrace. In hindsight, I think I was probably at my most beautiful back in those postpartum days, but I sadly didn't see it at the time. And because I couldn't see myself as desirable, it was hard to get in the "mood" for sex. It took a long time to regain my "mojo" and make friends with my body again. And if I'm being honest, I am still (at 51) trying to be kinder to myself….a work in progress ;)
If you recently had a baby, Valentine's Day 2020 may look just a wee bit different than V-Day 2019. Money might be tighter. Time may be harder to come by. General fatigue may be your new normal. Not to mention how the many, many changes to your body may not leave you feeling extremely sexy. The thought of getting showered, dressed up and leaving baby may either be VERY exhilarating or it may make you feel exhausted just thinking about it. Having sex may be the last thing on your mind; maybe it's too early, and that is OK. Women who breastfeed can sometimes feel "touched out" at the end of the day, and just want a few hours to themselves (and a luxurious nap). Seasons for sex come and go, so please don’t judge yourself harshly if you're not "snapping back" to your old self. Give it time, and focus on intimacy with your partner, in whatever form that takes. We get so immersed in motherhood that we can forget we are also women, with needs and desires independent of our children. And our partners may just miss us, and have trouble saying so. They may miss having sex with us, or an uninterrupted conversation that is NOT about what color baby's poop is, or just simply going out to dinner or sharing a concert experience together. So please, ladies, if you've got even a little energy left, plan something nice with your partner that helps them remember when it was just the two of you….the fun you had, the inside jokes, the way you looked at each other. A little does go a long way.
And if you're in the mood….here are some tips to consider:
1.) Nurse or pump (and feed baby) right before sex so you don't have to worry about having your milk let-down or being uncomfortably full (or baby waking up).
2.) Lube is definitely your friend. When nursing, the hormones your ovaries normally kick out are lessened, which can lead to vaginal dryness and a lack of cervical mucus. This dryness usually improves over time.
3.) Some men are turned off by a leaking breast, and some find it kind of arousing. Both can be normal. No need to feel your partner is a weirdo either way. How men (and women) view the female breast is a function of their culture and upbringing, and this is hard to dismiss away. Cultural attitudes about whether the breasts are a way to feed infants versus a sexual organ versus a tool to sell more cars, beer, or (fill in the blank) are difficult to reprogram sometimes. It is a new way for both of you to look at your breasts, so talk about it honestly and openly, without judgement, giving yourself a lot of grace and understanding about being a product of your upbringing and culture.
4.) Some women may experience a pleasurable sensation when breastfeeding, and are horrified and confused by this. Please listen when I say "You are NOT abusing your child" and "Hormones and other NORMAL processes are in play here, that do not point to anything you are doing 'wrong'". When a mother nurses, oxytocin (that love and bonding hormone) is released in response to the nipple stimulation, and this hormone contracts your uterus (similar to what happens when you have an orgasm). The breasts and nipples have always been a part of your sexuality and sexual development, and they are just responding to their biology when they are given attention: they enlarge before menstruation, during pregnancy, before orgasm, and during lactation. They are just responding to the way they are programmed to respond to keep the species proliferating! It's all good. Different, and strange at times, as anything new can be….but all good. And I promise, it gets better and less awkward as time goes on. Stick with sex AND breastfeeding. Both can co-exist in your beautiful, multi-dimensional new life.
Happy Valentine's Day!