DOES YOUR SEX LIFE CHANGE AFTER BECOMING A PARENT?
... A POSTPARTUM MOTHER!
Having a baby completely changes your world… and that includes your sex life!
Here we talk with Katie, an amazing mother of two who agreed to open up about all things children, relationships, postpartum libido, and how her sex life evolved after having her babies.
Q: First off Katie, tell us a little about yourself.
A: I’m Katie, 37, mum of two – big sister who is three and little sister who is 6 months. I’m currently on maternity leave with my second baby. I’ve been married to my husband for 4 years and we've been together for nearly 10 years.
Q: Did you find your libido dropped after having either one of the girls?
A: I have breastfed both my girls and noticed a massive drop in my libido post-birth, which I think is mostly hormonal, but also life with kids can be exhausting – especially if they don’t sleep well. I also think that if you’re the primary caregiver for your child, you and your partner can quite often live different lives (especially in the early months), often getting up and going to bed at different times, doing very different activities during the day and so on, which isn’t necessarily the best for strengthening your relationship.
Q: Did the changes you were experiencing when it comes to sex drive affect your partner at all? If so, how did you find communicating about this with each other?
A: My husband is very patient and understanding, I can imagine he’s a bit disappointed that I’m not more interested in sex but he doesn’t pressure me. Personally, I find it more upsetting when I don’t feel like having sex, because pre-babies and during pregnancy I had a high libido.
We do talk about it occasionally, but I often feel guilty about not wanting to be intimate. I think it’s a balancing act after having kids to make sure your husband or partner still gets valuable attention from you.
Q: How long was it after having your children that you and Danny ‘got back in the sack’?
A: After my first daughter was born, we had sex 6 weeks after, and to be honest it was too soon. I was scared it would hurt as I had suffered damage during my first birth, and it did hurt a little. We waited a few more weeks before we tried again and, gradually, I got my confidence back.
With my second daughter I waited longer, and that made the first time a lot more enjoyable and less stressful.
Q: When did you start using contraception again (if at all?)
A: We used condoms after my first daughter. I think breastfeeding for an extended period meant that my periods didn’t come back for over a year, which may have acted as contraception, but as we got pregnant so quickly with my first we have been pretty careful since. I’m not a fan of the pill so we just used condoms.
After my second baby, I’m very conscious that I don’t want any more children, so I may look at alternative contraception going forward.
Q: Is the sex different now compared to before you had children?
A: To be honest, it feels slightly different anatomically – but not in a bad way! Pleasure-wise it’s still as good as it was before kids. I have asked my husband that question as I felt like he may have noticed a big change, but he assured me it still feels great.
Q: Due to all the hormones flying around your body after having a baby, a common symptom women experience is vaginal dryness - did you? If so, how did it make you feel?
A: Yes I did, I used lube for quite a few months during sex, after the births of both my girls.
Experiencing vaginal dryness does make you feel weird – it feels like you're not enjoying it as much. It’s uncomfortable and pretty off-putting, I would say.
Q: How has your relationship in general evolved after having the girls?
A: I think as parents of two young children, we’ve been pushed to breaking point, whether it’s through sleep deprivation or toddler tantrums. We’ve learnt not to take it out on each other and, if we do, we’ve learnt to not hold onto the hurt or anger. You have to learn to be less selfish and recognise that you are not going to have as much time for yourself or your partner. You have to make time.
Sexually, after my first, it took us a long time to have alone time together and not have to get up for a baby multiple times a night, but you do learn to adapt and take time for each other more often, or plan trips away to reconnect – and dream about when the kids will sleep later than you or can get their own breakfast!
Q: How do you keep yours and Danny’s relationship spontaneous? Or do you think being a parent has led to a decrease in random acts of intimacy?
A: I would say that unfortunately you do become less spontaneous in terms of sex life, because you have little people running around your house, demanding a lot from you both mentally and physically. Throw into the mix going back to work, nursery drop-offs and bedtime battles, there is little left of you for each other.
We both try to find small intimacies with each other, whether it’s a small fondle in the kitchen or a cuddle on the sofa, or complimenting each other. We still occasionally want to jump each other’s bones, but sheer exhaustion normally takes over and I just want to sleep more. I think I’m confident that the second time around I can see the road to getting my sex life back, as that happened around 18 months or so after my first was born, so I hopefully the same will happen with number two. I’m sure that in a few years we will have more time for each other and can invest more time in our sex lives. Plus, we can ship the kids off to the grandparents for the weekend!
Q: Last but not least, what top tip would you give to all the expectant mothers out there who may be worried about their relationship changing after having a baby?
A: Be kind to yourself. Your body has just been through the most amazing but also the most gruelling journey and only you know when you’re ready to have sex after that. Talk to your partner and discuss how you're feeling because, at the end of the day, it’s most likely they just want you to be happy and want to do it too! Don’t be disheartened if your libido doesn’t come back straight away, as it’s not forever and you will work out the new normal for you.
Thank you so much Katie for answering our questions - I’m sure it helped plenty of parents out there feel much less alone. And, as you can see from Katie’s answers, vaginal dryness is extremely common postpartum - and it’s nothing to feel ashamed about! We’ve written a whole article on vaginal dryness which breaks down exactly why you may be experiencing symptoms, in the hope it helps to normalise the topic for women everywhere! Read here.
Fancy sharing your sex story with us? Send us a DM on Instagram, we’d LOVE to hear from you.