Remember the time when you’d stay in bed all weekend, only emerging to order a pizza and check your hair wasn’t too Edward Scissorhands?
If those days have gone for you, following the arrival of a baby, you may be one of the 39% of new mums who wish they were having more sex.
How do we know?
We asked more than 2,100 mums and mums-to-be about their sex lives, and found that a mismatched sex drive was causing relationship problems for more than half of them.
In fact 55% of new mums revealed their sex drive is at odds with their partner’s.
Many of the mums who responded to the survey described how sad, guilty and frustrated the ‘sex issue’ was making them feel. “I want my ‘mojo’ back!” said one mum, while another said, “I wish there would be more info on how to get back your sex drive after having a baby.”
“If someone wants it once a week and their partner wants it three times a week, there’s got to be negotiation,” says Jo Coker, a psychosexual therapist and professional services manager of the College of Sexual and Relationship Therapists.
What are the main reasons for a lack of sex post-baby?
It’s no secret that having a new baby is exhausting, and one of the main reasons for a lack of sex post-baby is tiredness, according to 40% of mums.
But another 25% said they have lost interest in sex altogether, while 11% are “too self conscious of their post-baby body”.
As one new-mum puts it: “I feel like I’m being a bad wife. But I’m tired, and we never have that time anymore to get me ready.”
“It’s hard to find times when you’re both up for it and the baby isn’t awake and crying,” adds another, pointing out “then sometimes when you do find those times the baby wakes up and starts to cry!”
And post-baby, this mum told us that she felt more sex would “make me and my partner closer and reconnect instead of arguing all the time”.
The less than glamorous side of pregnancy and birth means that other very real reasons for a dip in sex drive include dryness, episiotomy, tearing, and lochia (post-birth bleeding).
Sex counsellor Dr Roz D’Ombraine Hewitt, of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, reassures: “Many new mums are puzzled or feel guilty about their diminished sex drive, though it’s hardly surprising they lose that loving feeling.
“Along with tiredness they’re adjusting to a new way of life and a body that’s very different from its pre-pregnancy size and shape. When delivery has been less than straightforward, fear of vaginal discomfort or pain is another turn-off.”
When do new mums start having sex again?
There’s certainly an appetite for sex post-baby, as 56% of you have sex within 2 months of giving birth, and 80% have had sex within 3 months, according to our survey.
And how often are new mums really having sex?
38% of couples have sex at least once a week in their baby’s first year. This compares to 80% having sex this often before pregnancy. So, yes, it’s a bit of a drop.
However, 13% of you are managing to navigate the tiredness and time constraints to have sex several times a week.
And, new mums told us that things do improve. By the time the baby is over a year, more than half of couples are having sex at least once a week.
“We didn’t have sex for the first six months, but now we have sex at least once a week,” one mum told us, while another said she is “happy as long as the affection continues”.
Good advice from another is to “try to talk to your partner if you can so he understands rather than just making excuses, which cause tension that can be hard to overcome”.
Relate’s sex therapist Denise Knowles stresses that “it’s important to be honest about how you’re feeling” when you are experiencing a change in sex drive.
“If your sex drive is lower than your partner’s, make it clear that it’s not a reflection of your feelings towards them,” she urges. “Equally, if your sex drive is higher than your partner’s, explain that sex is still important for you, and be open to listening to their concerns. It’s a good idea to take this period of adjustment to do more cuddling, hugging, stroking and kissing, as this helps to keep you connected.”
How can you get your mojo back?
You told us your favourite turn-ons (respondents could choose more than one answer)…
Kids being away from home
Bottle of wine
Being cooked for
Gift or flowers
Practical solutions like using a vaginal lubricant can also help with dryness, adds Dr D’Ombraine Hewitt, while “masturbation can help you get back into the groove”.
But, points out Jo Coker, “we can get into a habit of not having sex”, particularly when the reality is that your life gets busier.
“You’re more likely to rekindle it and get back to a place where you’re both happy by talking and simply caring for each other,” she adds. “Don’t let it become a battleground, where you’re sitting at opposite ends of the sofa.”
And it can be the little things that make all the difference, with you highlighting that washing the dishes, cleaning the house, and being cooked for all helped to get them in the mood.
According to one mum, “anything that takes the pressure off me – I’m run off my feet” can make a difference to sex happening, while “a general sense of consideration” and “talking” also get the thumbs up.
“If someone does something for you when you’re exhausted it makes you feel loved, which is the opposite of being pounced on after a hard day,” adds Jo, pointing out that the rigours and expectations of modern life can also be to blame.
“When sex breaks down often it is not about sex itself, but because of the division of labour. A mum might be working, cleaning the home, looking after the baby so seeing her partner going off to play football is not going to be conducive to sex.”
What do pregnant mums feel about sex?