“Even a soft, gentle return into the world of sex can feel scary when you are a new mom… When you decide to try having sex again, give yourself permission to take your time and only do what feels pleasurable to you.” — Sarah J. Swofford, MPH, From Ouch to Ahhh…The New Mom’s Guide to Sex After Baby
How beautiful is that quote? I love the sense of you’re-not-aloneness it inspires. It’s okay if you’re scared, it assures, and you know what? Your pleasure matters, whenever you’re ready and willing to dip back in.
Motherhood isn’t something I can speak about from personal experience, which is one of many reasons I was thrilled to interview Sarah, a sex educator, author and mom, on Girl Boner® Radio recently. Her voice and message are so important for parents, and her new book is fueled by both personal and professional experience. Here are some of the most powerful takeaways from our chat.
Having a baby can bring major changes to your sex life.
While some women seem to resume their usual sex life post-baby, many face physical and emotional challenges—which may be brought on by hormonal changes, mindset shifts, cultural ideals, exhaustion and more.
Sarah hadn’t thought sex would be an issue after having her first child. “I really assumed everything would go right back in a couple of weeks, pick up to the way it was before,” she said. Instead, she ended up feeling as though she’d never desire sex again.
“It was a huge blow to my self-esteem,” she added. “My partner and I were really not prepared for it, and we didn’t really have the tools to talk about it in healthy ways that acknowledged each of our situation.”
Many available resources are partner-centered.
When Sarah sought resources to address her challenges, she namely found superficial, partner-focused tips, such as wearing stilettos or lingerie—not information for a “brand new mom who’s nursing and exhausted and truly feels that her sexual identity has been turned on end.”
Her book, From Ouch! To Ahhh…The New Mom’s Guide to Sex After Baby, is the resource she wished she’d had back then. And it’s fabulous!
While there are commonalities, each woman’s experience is unique.
In preparation for her book, Sarah interviewed women for about a year about their sex life as parents, and was surprised by the results.
“I think I had expected, or maybe hoped, everyone’s experiences would be similar to or validate my own,” she said, “but what I found is that there’s a spectrum of experiences.”
Some women really do bounce back sexually, she discovered. Other couples never fully regain the same intimacy they’d had before children. Other women become less inhibited as moms, feeling more inclined to try new things and voice their desires. Sarah even spoke to women who experienced their first orgasms after childbearing.
The challenges are manageable.
No matter where you fall on the sexual spectrum post-baby, your bedroom life can improve. In fact, it may even be better than ever over time.
Sarah encourages open sexual communication, prioritizing self-care and taking time to evaluate what you want your sex life to be (even if you’re not feeling it currently) and what feeds your eroticism as helpful tools.
“Become an expert on your own sensuality, then share that with your partner,” she said. “Encourage them to become and expert about you, and vice versa.”
For more wonderful insight from Sarah, listen to our chat on iTunes, Stitcher Radio or below. You’ll also hear Dr. Megan Fleming’s thoughts on mismatched libido and scheduling sex, and a brave writer‘s advice on staying sexually safe. (Such a gift!)
If you’re a mom, how has having kids affected your sex life? What most struck you about the episode? I love hearing from you!
Psst! If you haven’t yet checked out the Beauty of a Woman BlogFest V, do so through 5/9 for inspiring fun and chances to win a sweet prize.