Sex After Pregnancy: AKA My Postpartum Booty Call

Posted on October 10, 2011 by

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postpartum-sex after pregnancy

So tired. How 'bout tomorrow night, honey?

Guest Post By Andrea Chisholm

I will never forget the sloppy red crayon heart drawn around the date of my six-week postpartum visit. Did he really think I was looking forward to “medical clearance”  for the bedroom? Wasn’t he there in the delivery room? Hadn’t he witnessed the destruction? Why hadn’t he given any of my other pregnancy related visits this much attention? Try as I may, at the time and in the years since, to find the romance and tenderness in the gesture, the image still provokes an eye roll and an anxious flutter in my gut.

Up until that appointment I could hide behind the, “Not tonight dear, Doctor’s Orders!” For me, that appointment marked the start of the excuses. The problem was, I just wasn’t interested in sex. The crayon heart sent a very different expectation.

After my first child’s birth, my libido had ditched me for almost a year! That was a lot of excuses and yes, as much as I hate to admit it, some well placed dutiful “keep the peace” sacrifice.

At the time, I didn’t understand the science behind my behavior. I knew there must be some Momma Gorilla instinct not to leave baby unprotected while gallivanting around answering booty calls, but my evolved brain overrode that with feelings of guilt and inadequacy.

What I did know is that my libido would return with time and that I was not  alone in my conflict. As an OB/GYN, I spend a lot of time on the other end of those dreaded six-week postpartum visits. I’ve sat in front of countless women who despite difficult pregnancies,long labors with “blow out” vaginal deliveries, and countless sleepless nights talk about their lack of desire and how they feel bad for their “poor husbands who have been so patient.” Resisting a feminist rant, I acknowledge that this is a very serious issue for a lot of couples. It is an emotionally raw time which can lead to resentment, infidelity, and sometimes the end of a relationship. I talk biology, offering my Momma Gorilla analogy. And thanks to the book The Female Brain by Louann Brizendine, M.D., I can add more science to my reassurances.

As it turns out, our brains are hard wired not to NEED sex postpartum! Says Brizendine in The Female Brain:

“….like all woman who are in skin to skin contact with babies and breast feeding (she) has a brain that’s marinating in oxytocin and dopamine making her feel loved, deeply bonded, and physically and emotionally satisfied. It’s no wonder that she has no need for sexual contact. Many of the positive feelings she usually gets from sexual intercourse are evoked, several times daily, by meeting the basic physical needs of her young children.”

Here’s what I now tell my distraught new mothers:

“Knowledge brings freedom. In this case, knowledge brings freedom from self doubt and blame. Embrace your mammal instinct but don’t be ruled by it. When you understand why your initial reaction is to avoid intimacy postpartum, then you can use your reasoning brain to make decisions.  Educate your partner, engage them in your struggle, and teach them why they need to be both more patient and persistent.”

Date night anyone?

(Image: Spamily)