Erotic filmmaker Madison Young thought she knew everything about sexuality, about what she liked and how she liked it—rough sex, bondage, nipple clamps, a real-life "Fifty Shades of Grey."
But then she got pregnant.
“Pregnancy and motherhood shook all of what I thought I knew about myself and sent me flying deep down a surreal rabbit hole,” she writes in her new book “The Ultimate Guide to Sex through Pregnancy and Motherhood: Passionate Practical Advice for Moms."
She was shocked at how little information there was about women interested in sex and maintaining their sexual selves throughout pregnancy and motherhood. Women who are single or married, straight or queer, polyamorous or monogamous and who don’t always play by the rules. Her book, which includes stories from all different types of women, is a “space in which we acknowledge that our bodies are not void of desire for intimacy and sizzling sex during pregnancy or motherhood.”
Here are some garnets of wisdom from Young:
1. Don’t be surprised if you have more desire during pregnancy
Ms. Young was still performing in porn films throughout pregnancy, and found her last role was in a MILF film, playing the expectant mother interviewing babysitters (spoiler: she seduces the babysitter.) She felt very nervous for the first time, yet "despite the body-image challenges that arose during pregnancy, my sexual appetite was robust... I felt challenged and terrified by my body changing noticeably every week, every month, but I also felt radically turned on by it and empowered by my growing body and my curves, by having cleavage for the first time in my life and experiencing an element of the sexual goddess.”
2. Being a sexy mama doesn’t always mean feeling sexy
Young writes, “When you have a small child who needs to be nurtured on a full-time basis, it’s easy for your needs and desires—including showers and eating!—to take a backseat. No wonder so many moms face challenges in finding their way back to their sexual identity—if we can’t meet our basic needs of sleep, food, and hygiene, how do we intend to find, experience, and share pleasure with ourselves or our partners?”
Her advice: “Be gentle with yourself. Create time for yourself—even five minutes a day—because nourishment is essential. You are beautiful and radiant just as you are, and you deserve pleasure and connection—don’t allow the world to shame or guilt you into thinking that you don’t.”
The important thing is to know that our bodies are really smart, and that we can’t push them to do something that they don’t want to do.
3. Listen to your body—it's different now
Before baby, Young had been a regular female ejaculator. But that ended with the birth of her daughter... sort of: now she was leaking milk every time she laughed, sneezed or got turned on. She worried she’d never have that same pleasurable experience again. (Although other women told her after birth they’d experienced it for the first time.) “The important thing is to know that our bodies are really smart, and that we can’t push them to do something that they don’t want to do. Listen to your body. Listen to what it needs, and let it respond to sexual stimuli in its own time in a way that makes sense to it in that moment. Be patient and present in the moment, and honor your body in its present experience.”
Also, breastfeeding is very sexy for some women, and there’s no shame in that. Lactation expert Moorea Malatt tells Young, “Breastfeeding causes the uterus to contract and even the vaginal muscles to tighten in very much the same way that for many of us breast play during sex lubes us up and makes us excited."
4. You can't take care of others unless you take care of yourself
“As far as I’m concerned, there's no better way of getting your sexy mama groove back than exploring your sexual self on your own before reconnecting with partnered sex. When you give yourself the time and space to explore your own body and sexual desires, you are able to discover what works for you in your sexual self right now.” But that might look a little different when you’re a mom. Young says she makes pockets of private time for herself.
Also, sleep. “Perhaps one of the greatest immediate changes in my life going into motherhood was a dramatic reduction in the amount of sleep that was happening in the house.” She notes: “When people aren’t sleeping, they aren’t generally feeling very sexy.”
5. Role playing, sex toys and kink aren't just for the childless
One man had trouble seeing his wife as sexy now that she was a mama. So Young advised role playing—the mom became a “sexy librarian” and her husband could shed that maternal image.
Young advises playing games, anything from Twister to wrestling to “I Spy” to “Kinky Simon Says.” “Have fun! Break the ice and explore your new, sexy desires in a playful way.”