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Get the Message, Dads: She Doesn't Want Sex After Having a Baby

Photograph by Twenty20

I had no idea how much having a baby would change me physically, emotionally, even spiritually. I knew it was going to be a big deal, but I didn’t realize how quickly I would transform into "Mother." I didn't realize every ounce of my being would suddenly be all about nurturing, feeding and protecting my baby, and that little else would matter anymore.

I honestly thought I would be able to retain some of my old self: the young, driven, attractive, caring-about-other-people’s-needs self I had spent my early adulthood cultivating. The shift was especially jarring to my marriage. Once my first baby was born, all of my resources were transferred toward him, and tending to my marriage was pushed to the wayside for a while.

Yup, that meant sometimes I didn't feel like getting my sexy on. Beside the fact that I rarely slept and had a baby hanging off me at all hours, it took my body a long time to feel normal again. My belly was squishy for many months (let’s be honest: it still is), and my boobs were leaking milk all the time. It’s no exaggeration that it takes women at least a whole year to recover from childbirth, and I was no exception.

Ummm, hello? Your partner just had a freaking baby. Her body is stretched out all kinds of ways. Lay the heck off for a while, dude.

I was lucky. My husband understood all this and never, ever pressured me to have sex with him. He was a highly involved parent, and although he didn’t have a transformed body with hormones raging through it, he was as exhausted as I was. There were times he craved sex when I clearly did not. But he knew that begging or pleading just wouldn't fly. He also trusted that things would get back to normal eventually.

He was right. Once the initial shitstorm of the newborn period was over, we began to have sex semi-regularly. And, although parenthood continues to throw a wrench in things (spoiler alert: raising kids is always exhausting, even when they're older), our sex life has been pretty awesome.

All of that is why it really pisses me off when I hear about husbands who are pressuring their partners to have sex with them, especially in the first few postpartum months. Ummm, hello? Your partner just had a freaking baby. Her body is stretched out all kinds of ways. She’s "touched out" and abysmally sleep-deprived. Lay the heck off for a while, dude.

I hate even more that so many moms feel obligated to get back into the swing of things when it comes to sex after baby. Ladies, you just had a baby. It’s a big deal. Our bodies take a long time to heal—longer than people realize! It can be really hard to switch from mommy mode to sexy mode. You are under no obligation to "put out" after birth. Zero. Zilch. That kind of thinking is absolute horseshit.

Our partners need to realize this, and if they don’t, they’re assholes—plain and simple.

Husbands and partners, here's my advice: Wait until she’s ready. I promise, it will happen. It may not be next week, or next month, but the day will come. And the less pressure you put on her, the more likely she’ll want to do it when she's ready.

Also? There are more gentle ways to have intimacy if she's not ready yet. Give her a massage, stroke her hair, rub her feet or cuddle with her. Go to the grocery store. Get her a Starbucks. Do the dishes. Hold the baby for a few hours while she takes a nap.

Now that is the ultimate aphrodisiac.

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