40 Women On Their Post-Baby Sex Lives

The doctor tells you to wait six weeks. Then what? We asked mothers to be brutally honest about post-partem sex. Here’s what they told us.

Squiggly Line
Becoming a parent alters your sex life, sometimes just for a bit, sometimes for a helluva long time. This is true for pretty much everyone, no matter how you like to get off. And during this period of WTF-just-happened-to-my-body-and-sex-as-I-knew-it, it's comforting to know you're not the only one working to redefine intimacy. Here, moms talking candidly about sex (or lack thereof) after baby.
“I thought I would feel like myself again sexually once I got the six-week check-up, and when I didn’t I thought I would never be the same again — which scared me. I later realized that patience was everything; I would find myself again, it just took time and recovery. Sex was different until breastfeeding was over.” — Tasha, 36 
Advertisement
“Sex after baby was uneven. I was definitely 'in the mood,' but unsure about my new body and tired as hell. The lowest point was falling asleep while giving a handjob.” — Jaeda, 40 
“I was apprehensive but also unbelievably excited to engage with my partner again. But when it finally came down to the deed, it felt all wrong. It was like everything was rearranged in the worst way possible. Later I realized there was so much more behind the emotions that I was experiencing. I simply didn't feel like myself. Did I work through it? Yes, for the most part. My partner reminded me that it wasn't only about engaging in the act itself but being comfortable with all aspects of myself — mind, body and soul. He was absolutely right.” — Ann Marie, 44
"I have a 10-month-old daughter (our first and likely only child), and I haven’t had sex with my husband since I was probably about six-months pregnant. It took several years of IVF and finally egg donation before we were able to have our girl. I wouldn’t change a thing because we're so in love with our daughter and she was worth every hardship, but the years of my hormones being out of whack from the fertility medication, the weight gain and the aging process — or maybe the fact that our journey for a child took place in a Petri dish — mean my desire for sex and even masturbation has been pretty much zapped. Thankfully I have an incredibly supportive and patient husband... but hopefully the desire returns soon for both our sakes!" — Theresa, 41
Advertisement
“I couldn’t wait to get back into it. But I was also young, so that might be why.” — Bernisha, 36
“Before having a child we had a lot of variety in our sex life. Now there’s a lot of emphasis on more tender, sweet sex. We’ve gone totally basic and vanilla. It’s like, ‘Just be really nice to me.’”Maria, 37 
“While my body isn’t in the shape I like (realistically, when has it ever been?), I think the mental freedom of knowing how powerful my body is has led to seeing sex differently. Which of course has lead to better sex physically. I was never the woman whose biological clock ticked loudly. And now that I have a child, I’m not placing undue pressure on myself or my partner to help me reproduce.” — Tanya, 40 
“Awkward and nerve wrecking. I found it hard to relax and actually let myself 'enjoy' for the first year or so after our baby was born. It felt mechanical. I found my breasts to be a bit funny during sex while I was nursing my babies (both until about 16 months). My poor hubby didn't know what to do with the things for fear milk would squirt out. My first born is almost four years old, and I now feel in control of my body and pleasure again. I do truthfully enjoy sex and can have lovely orgasms by myself! But this took time and patience.” — Emily, 35
“There is definitely a lot less of it. I know with my girlfriends there is this feeling that a lot of the joy is stripped out of sex during the act of getting pregnant. You’re doing it at this exact time and it’s very perfunctory. Getting back to that place of sexy carefree-ness is not easy. And then for me there was the added part of having a painful delivery with so many stitches. Things were so fucked up down there to the point that I was terrified about having sex. I didn’t even want to use tampons, let alone…” — Alanna, 36
Advertisement
“It took me three months, and LOTS of lube. Sex since having my son isn’t the same. I’m more tired now and my son is a little cockblocker. He seems to sense when his dad wants some and tries to find ways to put a monkey wrench in his plans. There’s the time he walked in on us (facepalm), probably thought we were wrestling and tried to jump in the bed! Or he will take forever to fall asleep and then we’re too tired to do anything. We have much less sex since becoming parents.” — Akilah, 39 
“Sex? Never heard of it.” — Naomi, 40 
“The first orgasm after a baby was kinda shitty and I felt broken because of the numbness around my c-section scar. I cried a lot.” — Felicidad, 35
“My husband still looks at me with lust in his eyes when I'm so utterly tired and feel like I’ve just been wrung through the wash… and that is so goddamn sexy. Thank god for him or my confidence would be at the lowest ever. I do wish there was more room for spontaneous sex — it’s hard to get it on when you've got a toddler following you around all the time, everywhere. Like, seriously everywhere (I never poop alone).” — Gail, 42 
“Once the six- to eight-week rest is lifted, it’s amazing!” — Trixie, 44
“We have a very broad definition of sex in our house that doesn’t necessarily involve p and v. We actually did this class called Planning For Your Post-Partum, so we talked about sex and our hopes and assumptions. My partner was saying how he wanted to have sex afterwards — I think he wanted to make me understand that I was still desirable and all that, which is great, but I’m tired. We have done things three times and my baby is a month old, so I’m pretty proud of that. The other day he gave me one of those electric Kegels trainers that is like playing a video game with your vagina. It was really cute and his heart was in the right place — he went shopping at a feminist sex store, and I’m sure they told him this was a good idea. I tried not to look at it like a husband in the 1950s buying his wife a vacuum for her birthday.” — Lindsey, 40 
Advertisement
“Physical challenges aside, it’s the mental and emotional changes that are drastic. Now I find my mind straying and wondering, 'Is the baby okay?' while I’m supposed to be getting it in, so, it’s awkward. Speaking of awkward… the first time my breast milk unexpectedly squirted him in the face. Oops.” — Camille, 37
“Three words: Pelvic. Floor. Physiotherapy. Thank me later.” — Kim, 33
“When they tell you at six weeks that you’re healed, it’s a lie. Sure, the stitches may have fallen out and things are back where they’re supposed to be, but it sure doesn’t feel the way it’s supposed to. Sex was really uncomfortable at first... like, worse-than-the-first-time uncomfortable. If you had a tear, like I did, there’s so much pressure on that area. Part of my tear was internal so it took us a few tries to even get it all the way in. But! I will say this: persevere. It’s upsetting and sometimes scary when you experience that kind of pain during sex. But slow and steady wins the race, as they say.” — Abbey, 26
“It took a while to even work up the desire for sex. With breastfeeding, so much of my day was spent being touched. The last thing I wanted was for my husband to touch me. I was touched out.” — Brenda, 35
“Take it slow. Communication helps.” — Aprill, 36
“I think sex for me now consists of: Please don't touch my former baby feeders because ew, and please don’t let me get pregnant again.” — Cassandra, 28 
Advertisement
“My vagina went back to normal after three months, although putting effort into arousing my partner when I was exhausted… not always feasible. My sex drive then dipped when I went through postpartum depression. And I remember when I was breastfeeding that it was odd to have my husband play with my breasts.” — Meghan, 36
“First time after baby: BEST ORGASM EVER. Holy shit.” — Dese'Rae, 36
“To be honest, I have not thought about sex. There’s a hormonal dip that I think must happen — from what I understand it has to do with breastfeeding and not producing estrogen. Sometimes I feel bad — like, for the sake of my relationship, I should just do it. But then there are all the mental gymnastics and psyching myself up, and I just can’t deal with it right now.” — Rachel, 38
“My sex drive plummeted. I never even thought about sex while I was breastfeeding, but as soon as I weaned it went right back up.” — Kayla, 24
“All I ever heard was terrible warnings or jokes about childbirth ruining vaginas and stretching them out. I had several stitches and a lot of swelling; even after the six-week rest period, I found sex painful for several months, and the swelling meant it was anything but roomy. While everything was healing and my breasts were sensitive and full of milk, the sexual activities and ways of connecting with my partner changed, and it made us get creative. I had PPD and PPA and there were times I was not into anything sexual. But there were other times that I felt in overdrive. I just tried to ride it out and know that it was all temporary. Now the biggest factors are time and exhaustion. So it's gotta be a real good time for it to be worth sacrificing precious sleep! But even that's been a net positive. We might not have as many opportunities, but we make it count when we can, and it's lead to more communication, effort, and ultimately a more satisfying experience.” — Chelsea, 29 
Advertisement
“We had these grand ideas about going out for date nights, but the reality is that we don’t have our parents close by to help, baby sitters are $20 an hour and all of a sudden you’re spending $200. We literally schedule it now. We’ll look at the week ahead and figure out what night we both have time. And then you hope you’re both in the mood and not too tired. We haven’t gotten to the point where I put it on the iCal, but I can see that happening.” — Kate, 36 
“We schedule in time with each other the way you schedule dentist appointments. It’s kind of necessary, but the reality is that scheduling things isn’t sexy.” — Katie, 36
“How did sex change? It became non-existent. But you know, we’re older too. We met when we were 41. We were hot and heavy, and then I got pregnant.” — Melissa, 44 
“There is very little sex drive right now. I’m not even that interested in masturbating. I don’t know — maybe this sounds bad, but I’m okay with it. I’m a very practical person and I guess I just feel like this is how things are now.” — Marie, 39 
“I mean, your sex life definitely changes after kids, but my husband and I have been pretty lucky. I think it all goes back to the fact that I went back to work as a lawyer three months after my son was born. It was a murder trial and it was round the clock, so my husband really had to figure out how to be the primary parent. That’s not what tends to happen when one person stays home for a year. I don’t want to sound judgmental. I think everyone should do what they want and what works for them, but I do think there’s something to maintaining a balance around childcare that means your relationship and then ultimately your sex life doesn’t take the same kind of hit.” — Indira, 39
Advertisement
“The thing is that after you give birth you’re just giving, giving, giving. It’s like your body doesn’t feel like your own and that’s not very empowering. People would say, ‘Oh my god, I felt like a goddess’ when they’re breastfeeding. I’m like, ‘No, I feel like a cow.’ For me, feeling sexy is about feeling independent. At the moment, I feel more like a fridge.” — Ash, 35 
“My ex and I broke up. Lots of things had been causing problems for a long time, but you know, when I became a parent it was just like, ‘Nope — this is not okay.’ I don’t want to talk shit about my ex, that’s something I’m really conscious of, but there was behavior that I was willing to accept for myself that I wasn’t about to accept for my kids. There is such a huge responsibility to be a model of good relationships for your children.” — Maggie, 35 
“I was definitely less interested in sex for a while. The baby is always touching you or needing something from you, so that’s the last thing you want from your partner. I wanted to want to have sex, so sometimes I would just do it. It definitely got better once I stopped breastfeeding, once daycare started. Scheduling it in is the least sexy thing, but I totally get it now. My husband and I will go out and spend time together outside of the parent realm and it’s like, oh right — I really like you. You’re interesting, and I’m attracted to you.” — Abby, 36 
Advertisement
“My already-big boobs are enormous and, like, down to my ankles. That definitely factors into my sex life. Like, ‘Oh my god — I have to wear a bra!’” — Lindsay, 40
“Once you have a baby there are no more secrets. I had a home birth and my husband was right there in the centre of the action. He has seen things he can’t unsee. I used to worry about using the bathroom when he was in there, now I’m like — whatever. On the other hand, there is a depth that wasn’t there before. It’s less about sexiness, more about intimacy.” — Katy, 34
“I’m better at saying no than I ever was before. I used to feel a little bit bad when I said no to sex. Now I have zero problem telling him to go away. Not tonight!” — Nat, 34
“We’re are at the point where we realize that if there is any chance of sex, we have to be in bed at, like, 7:30. That sounds crazy, but both of us are so tired and if it’s later, it just doesn’t happen. My husband wears one of those sleep rings and he has it set to go into “wind down” mode at 6:30.” — Kelly, 38
“Our toddler is going through a phase where he won’t sleep on his own, so he’s with my husband and I’m with the baby. Obviously that’s not leaving a lot of opportunities for sex. I hope that will change as the kids get older. We have every intention of kicking them out eventually, but right now sleep is a lot more important than sex, and if we want to sleep, it’s with kids in the bed.” — Aleks, 34 
“The mom thing kid of changes how you view yourself in terms of being a sexual being. It’s not that I don’t care about sex or that I don’t enjoy it, but it’s definitely not the most important thing. I’m older, I’ve been with my partner for a long time. There’s a bit of been there, done that.” — Holly, 38

More from Sex & Relationships

R29 Original Series