At first you were just emotionally and physically exhausted. And then you started faking being emotionally and physically exhausted. The truth is, ever since the baby was born, having sex with your partner is lower on the enjoyment list than changing a diaper explosion with the onesie still on. So you think there must be something wrong with your relationship and that you guys are totally doomed.
Good news. The reality is you’re like the rest of us just dealing with lots of change, hormonally, existentially, physically, and it can take a toll in various ways. In our series, “Is it Normal,” we’re here to remind you just how normal these seemingly dark feelings are in your new role as mother. So we invited Jean Fitzpatrick, a relationship therapist + New York-based psychotherapist to help answer your questions and guide you on a path that will no doubt be filled with these VERY real, very “normal” experiences, and how you can cope moving forward.
So if you can’t figure out how to get back to feeling sexy and sexual, Jean’s gonna break it down.
“Various aspects of new motherhood can serve as ‘brakes’ to your desire,” Jean says. “After pregnancy and birth you have a new relationship with your own body. You may need to rethink what makes you feel sexy and desirable.
“For example, instead of comparing your body to your pre-pregnancy self, accept that recovery takes time. Return to regular workouts as soon as your doctor recommends. Rather that pressure yourself to look a certain way, enjoy the process: the endorphins you release, and the muscle strength you’re gaining. Be proud of your amazing, life-giving body. You’ve grown a baby!
For some women, skin-to-skin contact with the baby is so relaxing — or so demanding — that they feel like a unit with the baby and may not feel a need or even desire for more physical closeness.
Team up with your partner to create new paths to intimacy. Shift your focus from having more sex to sparking no-pressure moments of desire. Make eye contact when you talk, text love notes, try massage, dance in the kitchen. Often couples focus on date night, hoping it will work magic, but there’s no substitute for brief, playful encounters from day to day.
Shift your focus from having more sex to sparking no-pressure moments of desire.
If you’re back at work, then balancing the demands of baby, household, and career may be leaving you stressed, depleted, or even resentful of your partner. If you’re overwhelmed with tasks, it’s time to set up a regular “business meetings” with your partner to be sure chores are shared equitably. Also consider how to use your resources to get additional help during this exhausting period.”