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01 Nov 2021 (Last updated 24 Sep 2023)

Sex & motherhood: everything you need to know

Sexual health 8 min read
Smile Makers Author
motherhood and sexuality guide

This is our WIP guide to navigating motherhood and sex, collated with hundred of moms from our community and other mother networks that we have worked with over the years. Find expert advice, pleasure tips, conversation starters, activities, and real opinions... all designed to break taboos around a mother’s sexuality!

Libido as a mom.

A mother's libido, or sexual desire, can be affected by many factors related to the physical and emotional changes that occur during pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum.

During pregnancy, increased blood flow to the pelvic area can cause increased sensitivity and sexual desire. However, many vulva owners also experience fatigue, morning sickness, and other discomforts that can make them less interested in sexual activity.

After childbirth, hormonal fluctuations, physical recovery from delivery, and the demands of caring for a new baby can all contribute to a decrease in libido. In addition, emotional factors such as stress, anxiety, and depression can also affect sexual desire.

All these changes in libido are normal, and it may take time for sexual desire to return to pre-mom levels. It is also important for mothers to communicate with their partners about their feelings and not feel guilty or ashamed if they are not interested in sexual activity.

For those that breastfeed, it is also important to note that this can also affect libido, as the hormone oxytocin, which is released during breastfeeding, can decrease sexual desire.

How to boost sexual desire as a mom?

Want to reignite your flame? Using our sensual imagination stimulates our emotional want for sex, aka our desire or libido. Erotic content can help awaken the sexual senses and help with arousal. Arousal is the body’s physiological changes, such as vaginal lubrication, erect nipples, and engorged clitoris, in reaction to sexual stimuli.

Reconnecting with our erotic imagination through recognizing and giving space for our sexual fantasies is a great way to look after our sexual well-being during motherhood from the inside out. If you’re not ready to get physical yet, this is a great way to keep the sexual side of you awake - sex isn’t all about touch; our mind and other senses play a big role in our pleasure experiences.

The sensuality of erotica has never been more so available than it is today. We can easily access things to own our sexy imagination and embrace an erotic side to fire up desire.

1. Listen to sweet nothings.

A lullaby for baby and a bedtime story for you. Once the kids have been put to bed, sit back and relax while you let some audio erotica take you to places you have never been before.

2. Get weekly reminders.

Subscribe to sex-positive podcasts for a little regular mindfulness, and listen to them with your earphones in during stroller walks or during nap times.

3. Read fantasies.

Tired of reading ‘once upon a time...’? Spice up your reading list with short sex stories online to scroll through on your phone during those moments of downtime.

4. Jot it down.

It’s time to be your most raw self! Don’t judge your thoughts. Simply let go. Get your creative juices flowing and scribble down your own fantasies; what have you always wanted to try to do or missed doing? You could even share these with your partner.

Masturbation as a new mom.

"I learned to really enjoy masturbation."

Masturbation as a new mom is a personal choice and can be a safe and healthy way to explore and understand one's own body. Some new mothers may find that masturbation is helpful in reducing stress and tension and can also be a way to reconnect with their body after childbirth.

It is important to note that the vaginal area may be sensitive after childbirth, so it's important to be gentle with yourself and take things slowly. It may take some time for the area to fully heal before you feel comfortable with certain stimulation, such as penetration.

What’s the best way to masturbate for new moms?

Masturbation, self-pleasure, solo sex – whatever we call it, has a lot of benefits. Stress relief, connecting with our bodies, and release of feel-good hormones. And also time-saving! Orgasms via masturbation are 56% faster than partnered ones, and although orgasms are not the be-all and end-all of pleasure, it’s definitely a good place to start for tired and busy moms who want to reconnect. The reason it’s more time efficient? Probably the same reason why we’re likely to climax more by ourselves than with a partner… external stimulation!

  • Feel your vulva and clitoris with your hand to revisit the sensation of being touched sensually.
  • Use lube to add extra glide and reduce friction or discomfort. Make sure it’s body-safe!
  • Get your own box of toys. Opt for external vibrators for clit stimulation, where you can control the pressure and vibration mode.
masturbation techniques for new moms to try

Partnered sex as a new mom.

Resuming partnered sex after childbirth or at the beginning of motherhood can be a sensitive and complex topic for many couples. The dynamics of our relationships are impacted when we become mothers, whether it is a first child or not. No matter the family configuration, it is affected by the arrival of a new being. This little ecosystem must take the time to find its new balance. Ignoring these realities and trying to go back to a pre-baby sex life as partners can be counterproductive.

Here are a few things to consider:

  • Physical recovery. Your body needs time to heal after childbirth, and you may be experiencing pain or discomfort. It's important to wait until you have received clearance from your healthcare provider to resume penetrative sex, which is typically given at a postpartum checkup.
  • Emotional wellbeing. Caring for a new baby can be demanding and can take a toll on your emotional wellbeing. It's important to take care of yourself and address any feelings of stress, anxiety, or depression before jumping into sex with a partner again.
  • Reconnect with yourself first. Rather than jumping straight into partnered sex, try solo sex. Learning about your body now, through self-touch, will allow you to express what you now enjoy. If you can reach orgasm via masturbation alone, it will also give you confidence and a boost of self-esteem and libido for partner time.
  • Birth control. If you do not want to get pregnant again, it's important to discuss birth control options with your partner. Condoms are hormone-free contraception, a good option if you are breastfeeding.
  • Communication. Having discussions about your sex life is the best way to avoid frustration growing between you or as individuals. Take time and space from baby to chat, and share your feelings. Speak using 'I' to express your feelings rather than judgments or accusations, and try to build solutions together. You can even explore exercises to help with mismatched libidos.
  • Take it slow. After giving birth, it's important to take things slow and be patient with yourself. It may take some time for you to feel comfortable and confident with sexual activity again.
  • Rethink what sex looks like. Throw out the past sexual script, and write a new one together. There are so many ways to find pleasure; take the opportunity to explore them or refresh your sex ed. Outercourse doesn’t stop at the vulva or clitoris; erogenous zones exit all over our bodies.
  • Prioritize pleasure. To build intimacy again and have new positive experiences, it has to be pleasurable. Don’t put up with pain and discomfort for the sake of your partner’s pleasure; instead, find ways that you can both reach orgasm.

How long after giving birth can mom’s have partner sex?

'Not after the 'magical' six weeks. No way did I want to be touched... I felt a silent pressure; I should be ready. I feel like we grow up thinking by this six-week mark, we'll feel healed, physically and mentally...' Mom from Mamamade.

Respect your body and rhythm. Focus on pleasant practices to build desire together, like sharing intimate moments of cuddling or building to mutual masturbation.

For those with penetration worries, go back to rethinking what sex looks like for you both. If your partner has a penis, they love using their fingers or reaching for penetrative toys - remind them that intercourse is not the only way to find sexual pleasure.

It's important to remember that every vulva owner's experience is different, and there is no "normal" timeline for when you should feel ready for sexual activity, especially after childbirth. It's important to take the time you need to feel comfortable and confident in your body and your relationship before resuming sexual activity with a partner.

Talking about sex as a mom.

No more keeping mom! Mothers are sexual beings, and it’s about time the world got more comfortable talking about it. The more discussions about motherhood and sexuality that we have, the more information is made accessible and available to share.

"I didn't feel empowered by being pregnant or giving birth, or breastfeeding. But maybe we need to adjust expectations so we are not setting women up to feel like they've failed. Then maybe they can feel empowered to know when they are ready and feel good as hell doing it."

Try these mom and sex conversation starters to open the conversation with health experts, friends, partners, or other moms!

conversation prompts to help new moms talk about sex
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