Need A Post-Baby Libido Boost? We’ve Got 10 Steps To Help
Written by Erin Feher
Photography by Photographed by Michelle Drewes
Hey baby. You might remember when that phrase meant something different to you and your partner. But diapers, sleep training (or not), and cleaning countless Cheerios off the floor has a way of flipping your perspective—and screwing with your sex life. But while you may no longer be pawing at each other under the dinner table, that doesn’t mean the days of steamy sex are behind you. We spoke to a handful of experts who gave us ten simple tips for reigniting the sexual spark in new parents.
Abandon the 6-Week Rule
A new study published this week shows that—surprise!—not all women are ready to have sex six weeks after giving birth, and that doctors and eager partners put too much stock in that 42-day countdown. “We found some women were ready before six weeks due to personal and partner desire, while other women expressed difficulties resuming sex, including pain and exhaustion from caring for a new baby,” says study leader Andrea DeMaria, an assistant professor in Purdue University’s College of Health and Human Sciences. So, toss that number out the window and do it when it feels right to you.
Ask Your Partner to Unload the Dishwasher
Better yet, communicate that you need more help around the house, period. “Studies have proven that the better couples are at divvying the load, the better their sex lives are. Good sex isn’t just happening in the bedroom, it’s beginning in the living room and with the unloading of the dishwasher,” says Kristin B. Hodson, a certified sex therapist and co-author of Real Intimacy: A Couple’s Guide to Healthy, Genuine Sexuality.
Don’t Have Sex
Dr. Lexx, a sex, marriage, and family therapist and founder of the Institute for Sexuality & Intimacy says the first thing she tells couples having intimacy issues is to take sex off the table. “It sounds counterintuitive, but I find it releases so much stress from the people I’m seeing. They have permission not to force anything and that is often a relief. Remember, intimacy does not have to be penetrative sexual intercourse and do not force it! That is a great way to build resentment. Instead, communicate and compromise. Also give yourself some time to heal and find other ways to connect if physical touch is hard right now. The pressure to please a partner can be overwhelming and start to feel obligatory. Instead, communicate what might be okay and leave the rest for now.”
Pretend You Don’t Have Kids
It’s not enough to force yourself out for a kid-free dinner with your partner if all you do it talk about the preschool holiday performance. Imbue a little role play into your lives and pretend you don’t have kids at all. Teaming up on the challenge (believe us, not bringing them up will definitely be a challenge) and being forced to focus on each other can make for a fun and flirty night out.
Make it Rain
Sometimes, decreased pleasure in the bedroom is simply an issue of physics. “One thing I look at is if women have enough lubrication to make sex pleasurable. Many women experience vaginal dryness during pregnancy, the postpartum period, and at various times throughout their life,” says sex therapist Kristin B. Hodson. “Supplements like sea buckthorn oil, which hydrates vaginal tissue, and body-friendly lubrication can really support female sexual health, pleasure, and everyday comfort.”
Sleep Before Sex
Exhaustion is real. Sex therapist Kristin B. Hodson says getting a good night’s sleep takes priority over a romp in the sack, especially for new parents. “A minimum of a four-hour uninterrupted chunk of sleep is critical for helping expand the idea of what sex is and when they can have it,” she says. “If you are a new parent, the last thing you are going to want to do at the end of a long day is have sex at 12:05 a.m. Exploring other times of the day where there might be more energy can be a big help.”
Get A Check Up
Low libidio can be a side effect of a more serious issue, such as pelvic floor dysfunction or postpartum depression. “The postpartum period can be up to 18 months, so a lack of desire could be part of untreated postpartum depression and anxiety. When postpartum depression gets treated, sexual health can improve as well,” says sex therapist Kristin B. Hodson.
Try Nature’s Viagra
There are a handful of supplements that can help get you in the mood. Rhodiola helps to relieve stress and adrenal fatigue (a hormonal imbalance caused by mental, physical, and emotional stress), while also boosting your two biggest pleasure seeking hormones: serotonin and dopamine. Rhodiola gives you a burst of energy and feels, so take it 30-minutes before hopping into bed. Evening Primrose Oil helps to even out progesterone and estrogen levels for increased circulation and dilation of the blood vessels to make your time together feel even more…ahem, explosive. And Magnesium can alleviate stress, fatigue, anxiety, or depression and can even boost your sex drive.
While hitting the gym is typically right below “have more sex” on that neverending to-do list burdening new parents, checking it off may just help in the bedroom as well. “Exercise gets blood flowing to all of your body parts, including your sex organs, which keeps them healthy, active, and lubricated,” says Antonia Hall, a psychologist, relationship expert, and author of The Ultimate Guide to a Multi-Orgasmic Life. “Studies have shown that people are most in the mood after exercise because your body is pumping out feel-good chemicals like endorphins while reducing the body’s stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol.”
Talk Dirty. Or Just Talk.
All the experts agreed, getting the issues out in to the open and even discussing them with a professional is the first step towards a more fulfilling sex life. “It’s important to address these concerns because they are common for couples to experience, yet too often people feel like they are alone in these feelings and changes. It can cause women to feel broken or relationships to feel like something is wrong when really changes in desire and libido across the lifespan are really normal! The best thing we can do for ourselves and in our relationships is increase communication and education so we feel empowered in these changes rather than alone, confused, and broken.”
For more on this topic, read about our first-person “Mom Talk” essay on postpartum sex.
Share this story