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Sex after having babies can be daunting and feel like another thing on the to-do list. Why can't it be like it was when we were in our twenties? If you're feeling like this, you are not alone, mama! We spent some time with Comprehensive Sexuality Educator Ashley Robertson to help us debunk and give some tips on this taboo topic. (You can watch our live interview at the bottom of this article.)
We hear from moms all the time that they don't want to be touched at the end of the day. They've had babies and kids hanging on them all day and are just touched out by the end of the day. This doesn't have to be anything to be ashamed of or something to make you wonder what's wrong with you. It's hard to prepare for, it's hard to go through and you may not be equipped with tools to get through it. You're a busy mom and there are people who are professionally trained to help you get through this.
Being the goal-oriented moms that we are, when we are being sexual with our partner, we typically have an end goal in mind. If we can get away from this mindset of accomplishment, we can take the pressure off our partner and ourselves. Instead of sex being another thing that requires work, it should be more along the lines of "all I want this to be is quality time" or "all I need is eye contact".
One activity you can do with your partner is for both of you to create your own pleasure list. You can then compare with your partner and see where the alignment happens. At any given time, if your partner is feeling giving and wants to serve you, they can go to the top of your list. If you are feeling giving, you can go to the top of their list and see what is most pleasurable for them. This list may change from time to time. It's totally normal for the top of your list to be a foot rub or a bubble bath. It's important to shift your focus to feeling connected and "being" with your partner.
It's also important to remember that these things don't have to happen just at night after bedtime. You can be doing these things or thinking about them through the day to better get you in the mood at night. You can also create rituals for yourself, like starting the day with an intentional effort to be in tune with your partner when he gets home, or sending a flirty text, or putting on a sexy pair of underwear. Whatever thing that is meaningful to you can be in your ritual, that way you can save your mind and your body for when you can be together again. There are many ways to make it happen, we just have to move away from the idea that sex is goal-oriented to instead being a moment of peace and connectivity with your partner.
You may feel ashamed about the fact that your drive may not be what it used to be or that you are not connecting your partner like you used to before kids. Just know this is totally normal, mama! If we think about our bodies biologically, after you have procreated, your body's drive has decreased because it has "done the thing" your drive was supposed to do. There are also chemical and hormonal changes that your body undergoes after having a baby, especially if you're breastfeeding.
If you're feeling insecure about having this conversation with your spouse, you are also totally normal! All of the romantic comedies we watch say that the other person just magically knows what you want. You're working against the societal norm that's setting you up to fail. This is why the idea of making a list with your partner may be a good option for you. We as moms need to advocate for our own pleasure and getting our needs met, especially since we live for everyone else and meeting their needs.
Now let's talk about the baseball and pizza method. We have all been familiar with the baseball method since high school. It's the idea that you are moving along bases and performing riskier sexual behaviors. Typically, the guy is progressing and the girl is receiving and there is always a "winner" and a "loser". That idea is what has been rooted in sex education for decades and really isn't a healthy way to view sexual activity.
Al Vernacchio gives us a much better way to think about the progression of sexual activity in his TED Talk. This advocates for a new philosophy and compares it to eating pizza. Think about it. What's the first thing you ask everyone when you order pizza? "What kind of pizza do you want?" This is what we want for our sex life. Instead of this assumption that sex is always a progression of certain activities, this may not be exactly what a postpartum mom wants. Instead, moms may want to hear "what do you want" or "what do you feel like today". There are so many ways to make pizza and this goes for your sex life too. Your partner may not understand your needs as a postpartum mom so explain this to them. It should be a collaborative, mutually beneficial and mutually pleasurable act.
It may feel heavy to get through this. It all starts with your self worth, mama. We know you can get into motherhood and not recognize yourself in the mirror. It's normal to wonder where you went and how to get you back. The simplest thing of putting on a pair of underwear that YOU like or shopping for YOURSELF can be super empowering - so try it! It empowers your senses to be validated. You can try things outside of your normal daily routine. Smell is an important sense that you tend to forget about. If you have a special soap that smells invigorating to you, save that soap for the time when you want to feel sexy. Having an arsenal of tools that you've specifically selected for your senses and your preferences is a good way of making small choices that add up to something and switches the way your brain works. This is called behavior modification, which is psychologically based. If you do something repetitively enough, your body prepares itself for the action. For example, if every time you put on these special panties, you wear this certain perfume and put on this eyeliner, then you follow it with behaviors of connecting with your partner.
The bottom line is: focus on YOU, mama! If you find yourself wanting to dive deeper into this topic with a professional, we cannot recommend getting in touch with Ashley enough!
Ashley Robertson teaches comprehensive sex education virtually, in person and travels through the Midwest to teach workshops. She is trained to facilitate the Our Whole Lives curriculum. You can get in touch with her on her website.
You can watch our live conversation below!