A lowered libido in mothers certainly isn't a new concept, and it's comforting to know that other women share the same experience. But how do we explain this feeling to our partners without bruising egos?
I never thought I'd write about my sex life on the internet, but for the greater good of helping fellow moms who are in a similar situation, I'm going for it. I've learned that parenthood comes with many "I never thought I'd do that" moments (for example, peeing in my kids' potty in the back of our SUV, while wearing a nursing child). I've also learned that it can feel so comforting and validating to know when you aren't the only one experiencing something.
But there is also is a science behind a low libido postpartum (or even during pregnancy). It isn't your fault. It isn't my fault. It isn't the baby's fault.
Ok, well, it's kind of their fault because a large part of low libido in women postpartum is the fluctuation of hormones.
Once a mother has given birth, her hormones go into a tailspin. If she's nursing, those hormones are constantly fluctuating, and they will continue to do so for a month or two even after she stops nursing.
Another large part of lack of libido in postpartum women is postpartum depression. Some risk factors to postpartum depression are previous experiences with depression or anxiety, traumatic delivery, and family stressors. Feelings of hopelessness and no longer enjoying past activities are a few signs that we might be experiencing postpartum depression.
Even without postpartum depression, a woman's feelings about herself postpartum may ring her sex drive down a few notches. You may think she looks more beautiful than ever, but our bodies have changed- and that can be a hard thing to accept. We also aren't sleeping and are generally not feeling well about our overall look (especially with a lack of showers and clean laundry). The house may have gone to the pigsty as well, and a messy house can cause anxiety leaving us not to want to do anything remotely romantic.
And quite frankly, sex can feel painful postpartum. We just pushed a baby out of our vagina or had our stomachs cut open. The last thing we want sometimes is something else going back in. Painful sex, if happening six weeks or more postpartum, should be examined by a doctor.
When push comes to shove (see what we did there?), low libido in women postpartum doesn't mean we don't love you and it doesn't mean we don't want to have sex with you. It just means we are in a weird space- and believe us, we don't like it either. So in an attempt to offer solidarity to the other mamas experiencing low libido out there, I'm writing a letter to those awesome men in our lives who are feeling a little…"blue." 🙂
Dearest Husbands and Partners,
We've created these amazing little humans, who are basically our love in walking, talking form. So cool and awesome! We couldn't have done it without you! Thanks for the greatest gift ever- motherhood. You probably never expected your wife to find another love of her life…especially one who's shorter, balder, and drools a lot more than you. But when we gave birth and experienced the heart-bursting, breathtaking love that comes with sharing our body and looking into the eyes of that tiny person we created, it happened.
Our hearts have the ability to give boundless love and as our family grows, our love multiplies. It's true - you did have our total heart and soul when it was just us. But when that first baby took his first breath, his little soul crept into your body and took their portion back. Being someone's very life force - the person they depend on, feed from and cling to for dear life is very physical. Sure, we used to be up for fooling around all the time: morning, night, in silly places that later gave us a funny story to look back on. And we celebrated our love frequently and carefree. But things aren't exactly the same now.
Our bed is no longer just "ours," and we don't seem to have the time these days to lounge about lazily, taking our time to enjoy each other like we used to. Of course, bed-sharing doesn't mean we can't have an exciting sex life - I mean, who needs a bed? We know you're up for it anytime, any place. But are we? Some of us - yes! Bring it on - especially in the morning or afternoon. Some of us might find that we're in the mood late at night when little people are sleeping, toys are put away, and the house is cleaned up. And, just as normal, there are those of us who have reached our "touch threshold" for the day and have no interest in anything more than conversation and cuddles.
Please be sure to read this next sentence very carefully: This does NOT mean we don't love you and don't think you're the most handsome guy in town. In fact, we do have fleeting thoughts at random times during the day of kissing you (and sometimes even an erotic dream here and there). But by the time the chance arises to…make something else arise…we're ready to collapse, relax and not. be. touched. by. anyone.
We never thought we'd speak those words to you, darling husband. But a few kids and several years of breastfeeding later, the sentence was spoken. It sounded crushing and caused a lot of guilt (which is a frequent visitor to us), but not totally surprising. You don't have little people sharing your body. You couldn't possibly know the feeling of not wanting to be physical with the one you love. You say we prance around in our black yoga pants, looking hot and making you want us more. I assure you - it is not our intention to lead you on and make you crazy (but we guess it's good to know that it doesn't take much effort to impress you). We realize that our libido may be suppressed, but yours sure isn't.
This time in our lives won't last forever. Our children won't always need and want us moms in such a physical way. This is a season in our story, a fleeting moment in the grand scheme of our beautiful life. There will be years of dating, flirting and rolling around in the sheets- just the two of us- in our future. Our hormones will eventually level out and our libidos will someday rise to your level (watch out!). We totally appreciate your understanding and patience.
We were thinking- there might be some simple things we could try to keep our connection- maybe a weekly date night on the couch to watch a favorite tv show together? You could try that old yawning-arm-over-the-shoulder trick, and I could try relaxing and letting you put your arm around me. Maybe we could even try to make out sometime, like we used to in those early days of dating when we felt tingly butterflies encircling our stomachs (the ones we knew before baby kicks). We adore you, we respect you, and we are thrilled to share this incredible journey of parenthood with you. Hang in there, babe - those little people who have stolen our hearts will give a little back at a time and allow you to have their mom back someday.
With all our hearts (oh, minus the parts stolen by our offspring),
Your Loving Wives