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A Month Without Sex?! Advice for New Moms

Last week, I invited readers to submit their questions to me with the promise that I would answer in future posts. For the next few weeks, I’ll cover one topic each Monday. Today’s question was the first submitted, and perhaps the most time sensitive since the reader is pregnant and expecting “any day now.”

My husband and I (married since last May) have what I would consider a healthy sex life. We are expecting our first child any day now, and I’m worried about that month after the birth of our child. How do we keep the spark while we are both dead tired and unable to have intercourse? I have always had a fairly high sex drive, so because I know I’ll be able to satisfy my husband in other ways I’m quite worried mainly for myself. Any post-birth coping tips for that first month? It makes me sad to miss out on a month of sex before we even have our one year anniversary.

First, what a great attitude about your marital intimacy! Your husband likely feels lucky already. 

Mom kissing baby
Photo credit: Microsoft Word Clip Art

Second, congratulations! Psalm 127:3 says, “Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him.” I love my children with parts of me I didn’t know existed until they came into the world and stole my heart.

That said, children are also an interruption, a frustration, and a pain in the posterior at times. (Just ask God about His children.) They can seriously disrupt a couple’s sleep schedule and sex life.

And it starts on Day 1 when the hospital, for some inexplicable reason, sends you home with a small human being and no instruction manual. Here you are, wiped out from childbirth, with nothing more than high hopes, a collection of baby supplies, and tidbits of advice from here and there, and you are handed a living, breathing infant.

Consequently, in the first few days, most wives are not thinking, “Oh no, why can’t I have sex?” They are thinking, “Why can’t I have sleep?!” They are wondering how they can afford food now that half their budget goes toward diapers. They are eyeballing the section of their belly that used to be a taut baby bump and now looks like a satchel of blubber. They are considering how scared they are to let out that first bowel movement. (Am I telling the truth, moms?)

Even the husbands may be wondering when the little guy will stop crying or how much pee and poop an eight-pound baby can manufacture! Daddy may feel a bit overwhelmed too.

So yeah, “dead tired” as the reader describes sounds about right.

Then there is the medical restriction on not having intercourse while your nether regions heal from pushing out a head that felt the size of a Mount Rushmore resident. (Okay, it’s not that bad. You’ll do fine! I promise.)

Now that I’ve instilled dread into every pregnant wife out there, here are some tips. Because you are a beautiful, amazing wife and mom; your marriage can stay strong; your intimacy can be managed; and children are a blessing from the Lord.

Let yourself heal. If you attempt intercourse too soon, you may traumatize that area more and have to wait longer before trying again. Expect that there will be a period of time when your focus is on physical recovery and getting to know your baby. In fact, the Old Testament required women to refrain from sex for at least 1-2 weeks (and based on an interpretation I don’t want to cover here, up to 80 days) so that they could heal. These days, most doctors suggest waiting 4-6 weeks to resume intercourse.

Remember that sex isn’t only intercourse. If you can’t score the touchdown now, kick a field goal. (I’m American and don’t know how to translate that to soccer/futbol.) You need not define sex narrowly as the Tab A/Slot B conjoining. You can perform a “hand job,” give your husband a “blow job,” or mutually masturbate. As long as you are comfortable with it and focused on one another, find other physically intimate activities while your lady parts heal and your baby learns to sleep for longer than a movie lasts. In fact, you might look at this time as an opportunity to try something different, explore your spouse, or master a new skill.

If it’s time to resume and sex is painful, report it to your doctor. Then ask for a physical examination. For example, after the birth of one of my children, our attempts to copulate felt like daggers being stabbed into my vagina. Thankfully, I discovered that I was very low on estrogen, and my doctor prescribed a treatment cream which remedied the problem (see Pain & Pleasure). The first time won’t be as comfortable, but intercourse shouldn’t make you cringe and cry.

Engage in plenty of non-sexual affection. Baby will need lots of attention. It’s easy to redirect affection onto this little one and find yourselves not touching one another as much. But even if you can’t be sexually intimate, you can convey intimacy through touch. Reserve some hugs, hand-holding, brushes against a body, and cuddling for your husband. Remind him through affection that you still desire him and, when the time is right, you can resume sexual activity. A 20-second hug has even been shown to release Oxytocin, the body’s bonding chemical, helping you to feel connected.

Be amazed by your body. After the birth of the baby, your hormones can get as tangled up as a twisted slinky. Your body takes time to readjust. Plus, your body doesn’t look quite like it did before. Thus, many moms are prone to having low to no sex drive, crying for any and all reason, and standing in front of the mirror in a full-fledged pity party over the changes in their body. But moms, believe it when your husband says that you are gorgeous, he is amazed by you, and he wants you as much as ever. So what if you have circles under your eyes from 3:00 a.m. feedings? So what if your jelly belly hangs over your undies? You gave birth to a new life. You rock! You are beautiful, desirable, and sexy!

Remember “This too shall pass.” This proverb is often attributed to King Solomon. (It’s the same phrase you’ll want to repeat to yourself when your child learns the word whatever accompanied by an eye-roll, circa age 13). You’re spending the rest of your life with your hubby, so you’ve got umpteen years to go at it like wild monkeys. Having to sit on opposite sides and snack on bananas for a few weeks won’t seem like such a long time when all is said and done. Re-establish your sex life as soon as you can, but don’t sweat every moment either. Resume activity and increase sexual frequency as your body heals and the demands on your time decrease.

For even more tips on what I wish I had done in those years just after having children, see When My Sex Life Sucked, Part 1 and Part 2.

I wish you, Reader, and other pregnant wives the best with childbirth and the infant years. The days are long, but the years go fast. Enjoy your little one and let this time bring you and your husband together.

To ask me another question, head back to the original post HERE. I’ll get to each and every one eventually!

Feel free to post your own suggestions for pregnant and new moms in the comments. How did you get through those first months?

19 thoughts on “A Month Without Sex?! Advice for New Moms”

  1. Actually the docs recommend 6 weeks of healing time. Oral sex for you is still an option. Also the Hitachi Magic Wand Vibrator is the industrial strength power tool vibrator that will rock your world.
    John Wilder

    1. John,

      I mostly hear 6 weeks, but I have also heard 4, and I verified those numbers on the Mayo Clinic website.

      Oral sex is indeed an option during that off time. I’m always hesitant to recommend a specific brand-name product as you did. However, I know some couples have had good experiences with vibrators. I would think that if stimulation in that area is problematic during these weeks, a vibrator for her wouldn’t be recommended. Plus, while I believe that sex toys are admissible in the bedroom, I tend to have some of the same concerns that Sheila Gregoire mentioned in one of her posts: That’s why I didn’t mention them here.

      Thanks for commenting!

  2. Excellent post. I’m so please to have discovered this site. As a midwife, can I just add: please, don’t even consider sex without additional lubrication. The hormones of nursing and post pregnancy usually cause vaginal dryness. This will resolve completely once nursing ends.
    Also, once your month of resting and healing are over you may discover that orgasms often cause your milk to let down. Warn hubby and have a small towel handy.

    1. Thanks so much for this addition, Brigitte. What great insight from a midwife! Vaginal dryness is indeed an issue.

    2. I was going to add this as well, and I am surprised it was not mentioned in the article. Breast feeding causes vaginal dryness and a lowered sex drive. Even if you have a high drive now, breast feeding can wipe it out. The dryness goes hand in hand with the suppression of fertility breast feeding causes. Attempting sex postpartum while nursing without lubrication (and I mean a LOT if it) can be very painful but it does not mean something is wrong either. It’s from the hormones.

  3. One more thing you may want to add is that despite what your doctor may have told you, and though it is less likely, it IS possible to get pregnant right after giving birth and/or while nursing. So when you get back to having sex you may want to take precautions. Having babies 10 months apart is really hard.

  4. I would add – don’t feel obligated to jump in once the “magical 6 weeks” has passed. Many women are NOT ready by that time. With our last we waited 9 weeks, with our babe before that it was over three months.

  5. I agree with Diana! Don’t feel like you have to have sex the day you get the OK from your doctor. It is uncomfortable, and additional lubrication is a must. I had a really hard time turning off “mommy mode” for the first 3-6 months after our daughter was born. We were having sex about once a month, but it was difficult for me because any time the baby would make a noise, my sex drive would shut off completely. Add that to the drastic change in hormones, and I would have been happy never having sex again! It is this reason that I searched out literature on the topic (Sheet Music is a GREAT book for that!) and found this blog! You’ve helped in ways you don’t even know, J!

  6. While some have said to not rush back into it,
    I would like to also encourage the other side of things. My midwife cleared me to start trying again after 3-4 weeks, and I was ready to go by about 5 weeks, two to three times a week. Everyone heals differently, and everyone has different trauma(tearing or not). You might be pleasantly surprise to be ready to go sooner than the normal recommendation. I was and so was hubby!

  7. After our son was born DW gave me enough hand jobs to keep me from going crazy and used the vibrator on herself – when we had enough energy! Even after the magic six weeks intercourse was too painful for a while and she needed an estrogen cream to help, but after a couple of weeks of treatment with the cream we were finally able to have intercourse again after almost three months since the birth. But there was good news – after the first few times getting her back into the swing of things, we discovered that she was more “accessible” – previously penetration was always painful at first and we had to take a long time to fully “get started” and again after a few minutes of thrusting, but now after the baby everything slides right in, no lines, no waiting, and she can go much longer. So in a weird way having a baby is the best thing that ever happened to our sex life – we do it more often now, for longer, with more enjoyment for both parties, in more positions, than we ever did pre-baby! Hallelujah!

  8. I just recently gave birth to our 4th little munchkin 7 weeks ago. We barely made it 3 weeks before giving in to each other. We spent a lot of time hugging, kissing, cuddling, etc.

    My advice for when your finally ready is talk to your husband, let him know how you’re feeling and to take it slow!

  9. I ended up with a c-section, so the healing was different, for sure. And by 2 weeks post delivery, I was roaring ready to go. We waited another 2 weeks to give it the “wait at least 4 weeks, please” from the NP. With plenty of lube and going slow, I found my mojo, and we’ve had a good time since. And yes, orgasm got the milk flowing for the first few months, but by month 4 or 5 my body seems to have figured out that nursing and orgasm were different and the milk flow post-O stopped.

    For those who follow NFP or charting, it can be hard to figure out when your fertility returns while breastfeeding. I’ve read that your body won’t release an egg if and only if the baby is nursing every 3 to 4 hours during the day and at least every 6 hours at night AND the baby is less than 6 months old. Of course, I’m going on 11 months of no “protection” and breastfeeding and nothing happening here. That said, if you are looking to NFP or charting, be sure to be observant about the various signs showing your fertility returning.

  10. J, you shared so many great thoughts and there are some great comments here too. My midwife gave the 3-4 week recommendation on waiting and come day 21 we gave it a try. My first labor and delivery was much longer and harder so there was a good bit of pain and we took it easy. My second delivery was super easy and the pain the first time was almost non existent.

    The thing that threatened to steal my sex drive was PPD. I struggled with wanting sex at all, not because it was painful physically but because I felt awful emotionally. The tenderness of my husband and my desire to keep at least one thing “normal” in my life actually helped me heal. Sexual intimacy with my husband met needs in me I didn’t know I had or that I needed. It wasn’t all about the physical release or the urge but it certainly did things for me I never would have guessed. I am glad to say sex played a big part in coming out of my PPD. I know that will not be the case for everyone but it is part of my story.


  11. With my first I couldn’t wait to get back at it. I bled for about 4 weeks & had had a c section so we just waited for the bleeding to stop and went to town. With #2 i had a vaginal birth and I had tore really bad so I was not rushing back into it like my hubby would have liked. And I was happy that I ended up bleeding for 6 weeks. The first time I was super sensitive and it hurt, you definitely need to take your time and find the best position for your comfort. I’m breastfeeding and don’t have the drive I used to have and I’ve heard that is normal because of hormones, just like you can be dryer too. If you are nursing they don’t want you taking the pill, so figure out what type of prevention you want to use if you don’t want another little one soon.

  12. I would like to add that you may want to experiment with the time of day… for me.. I was absolutely exhausted at night, but having sex in the morning worked better for us because I wasn’t as tired, and my testosterone was higher. Hubby and I have JUST started getting back to normal sex life ( it has been sparse for a while now) We are actually starting Sheila’s (of 29 Days to Great Sex Challenge. I read through the whole challenge before talked to the hubs about it (wanted to make sure everything was in our realm of belief and appropriate) and it totally is. Just reading through it has hugely impacted my perspective and attitude about sex unlike any other book etc. has. Sorry for the rant. But try morning sex! It will be great way to send your hubby off to work as well 🙂

  13. I can’t add to the after birth experience but I will tell you we adopted both our girls at birth. And even though I had not just given birth I was exhausted physically and mentally. I was thinking,”Oh God I love this sweet baby but what have we just done WHAAAAAAAAA!!!!” LOL! It is such a change to both of your lives that you will roll with the punches, adjust and like Heather L. said find a new time, place and possibly way to re-connect. We had to quit counting on night time sex too because we were soooo tired. Even now with our kids being 11 and 8 we find we need to sneak away in the afternoon or early morning to have sex. We’re still too tired after school stuff, dance practices, art classes, youth group stuff. Ha! Tired is a way of being when you have kids. But I wouldn’t trade my kids or the new way we go about finding time together for the world. Be blessed with your new baby.

    1. Thanks, Christy, for your input as an adoptive mom! Yes, it’s hard whether you gave birth or not. Those little ones are demanding those first few months.

      And I especially appreciate your feedback because I have many friends who adopted, and I think it’s a wonderful thing! We are exhausted, loving moms whether they came from our womb or another because we change the diapers, kiss the boo-boo’s, and tuck them in at night (or early morning, as the case may be).

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