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How to Rediscover Sexual Intimacy as a New Parent
Updated on
November 17, 2022

How to Rediscover Sexual Intimacy as a New Parent

By Erica Chidi
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How to Rediscover Sexual Intimacy as a New Parent.
How to Rediscover Sexual Intimacy as a New Parent

Written by Erica Chidi, CEO of LOOM.

Providers often tell parents that they should wait four to six weeks after giving birth before having penetrative sex again. But that doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily want to have sex that soon.

In fact, that waiting period can start to feel like a deadline, as though you should start having sex on a particular timeline. It also tells you absolutely nothing about how to gently rediscover sexual intimacy as a new parent.

So, here are a few things you should know about the postpartum return to pleasure.

There’s a lot going on hormonally. If you’re breastfeeding, you’re getting regular hits of the hormone oxytocin, the same chemical released during an orgasm. If you think about it that way, it’s not so surprising if you aren’t craving that rush of sexual pleasure like you once did.

You might be “touched out.” Taking care of a newborn is extremely hands-on. Just consider how much you cuddle and caress your baby in a single day. All that contact can leave new parents feeling like they don’t want to be touched anymore, including by their partners.

It can take a while to feel ready. It might be weeks, months, or even years before you feel totally comfortable with sex again. There is no one “right” timeline. Try to tune in to what you want, as opposed to what you think you’re supposed to want, and go at the pace that feels best for you.

Not all sex is penetrative. Masturbation counts. So does partnered play that involves zero penetration. Try to expand your ideas around what it means to experience pleasure and intimacy. You might feel interested in any number of things—say, taking a bath while listening to audio erotica or mutual masturbation with your partner—long before you’re ready for penetrative sex.

Be gentle with yourself. Regardless of whether you’ve had a vaginal or cesarean birth, your body has gone through a lot. Lube is your new best friend: it reduces friction during sex, whether it’s partnered or on your own. (Silicone-based lubes are great if you had tearing during birth.) You can also try out Ohnut, a set of rings that you put on a toy, penis or fingers to limit the depth of penetration.

Talk about your concerns. If you have a partner, let them know what’s on your mind. Do you feel pressured to start having sex again? Are you worried about pain? Do you want to try fooling around without penetration? One of the best ways to move toward sexual intimacy is to talk about how you’re feeling emotionally.

Ignore the timetables and deadlines. Instead, pay attention to how you’re feeling outside of any “shoulds.” Explore your own needs and let yourself get creative. Your post-baby return to sex and intimacy will be uniquely yours.

Erica Chidi

Erica Chidi is the co-founder and CEO of LOOM, a platform empowering women through sexual and reproductive health education. She is also a doula, health educator and the author of the Nurture: A Modern Guide to Pregnancy, Birth, Early Motherhood.

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