6 women talk about sex after birth - Kiindred

6 women talk about sex after birth

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When it comes to sex, the media likes to favour young women – specifically pre-motherhood women. It’s as if once a woman becomes a mum, her sexual currency wavers. Ironic since the biological purpose of sex is reproduction, without which we wouldn’t have a human civilisation. Or, if the male gaze still approves, said woman is marginalised as a ‘MILF’ (hello Pornhub). 

What’s rarely discussed, though, is a woman’s sex life after pregnancy and childbirth – and beyond.

Childbirth asks so much of a woman’s reproductive anatomy and, along with the postpartum period – often involving breastfeeding or pumping, women continue to undergo hormonal changes. To top things off, childbearing leaves an imprint on our bodies – literally: our breasts change, our stomachs may remain bloated or with excess skin, we might have stretch marks on our thighs, stomach and breasts, weight gain is normal and can be hard to lose, and, if we had a Caesarean-section, we also have a surgical scar. Some of us even have vaginal tearing to recover from. Then there’s the ‘too tired, over-touched, too-hard’ basket. If you know, you know. 

Conversely, as many women today have their first baby in their 30s or early 40s, a time when women often experience a higher sex drive and more intense sexual fantasies than they did in their 20s or teen years, for some women, sex after birth can deliver a whole new lease on life. 

To bring post birth sex into sharp focus, I chatted with 6 women, each a mother and 2 of whom are no longer with the father of their baby/small child, about their sex lives after birth. 

Because the nature of this content is so personal, some of the women have asked to remain anonymous. 

Anonymous, 35, Sydney, NSW 

Do you think there’s a difference between sex and sexual intimacy? 

Yes, I think sexual intimacy is more around connection, it’s not so much about the physical act of sex but encompasses the emotional and sensual elements that help form that deeper connection and can either be physical or not.

Can you describe your sex life before you had a baby/became a mum?

Our sex life was very healthy before babies. It was a long term relationship so had probably reduced to around 1-2 times a week, give or take (except when I was ovulating, haha) but the sex itself was great. Being younger and kid/obligation-free, we really didn’t need to think about it too much. Our sex life was natural and easy – when we felt like it, we did it. Those were the days!

Can you describe your sex life before you had a baby/became a mum? How frequently would you and your partner have sex/experience sexual intimacy? Was it good sex? Was sexual intimacy a big feature of your relationship? 

The sex with my husband definitely took a dive after babies. Like most mums, it took me quite a while to find not only myself after becoming a mum but also my libido. And just the ability to switch from tired, touched-out mum to a sexy wife who wanted to be touched wasn’t always easy. So we did start focusing a lot on sexual intimacy and this helped rebuild the connection and find the spark we once had. 

My sex drive during the second pregnancy was off the charts so that definitely helped! However, the reality of 2 kids under 2 (and life and Covid) definitely took its toll on our relationship and our sex life.

Has your ability to experience sexual pleasure increased or decreased since having a baby?

After both pregnancies and during the early months after having my babies it definitely suffered – I feel like it was both a physical and a mental thing. However, with time it has definitely returned and increased and I would now say it’s better than ever.

Is sexual intimacy as important to you now as it was pre-baby?

100%. The changes you go through during pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood are so profound that I think you can’t help but view so many things differently. Both about yourself and about others. But when it comes to your relationships with your partner and yourself, I think you realise that there are so many layers to consider and understand. Sex is so important in a relationship but sexual intimacy is even more important. Being able to find that deeper connection, where you truly feel seen and loved is so important.

How do you feel about your body and expressing it through sexual intimacy now?

For me, this answer is probably a little different because I’ve been through a split with the father of my children and since navigated life as a single mum and dating. Dating and having sex with someone new after you’ve had children (2 x vaginal births no less, haha) is next-level terrifying! But in time, I’ve learnt to accept the flaws I once hated (mostly – it’s still a work in progress) and appreciate it for what it’s been through. I’m not sure if it’s an age thing or a mum thing but just learning to not sweat the small stuff and start focusing more on what feels good is liberating.

Amber Sparks, 32, Perth, WA 

Do you think there’s a difference between sex and sexual intimacy? 

Yes, for me the difference is a strong feeling of connection and presence from both parties. Sexual intimacy is a check-in with your partner or to sound cliche, sexual intimacy to me is making love and sex is a fuck. 

Can you describe your sex life before you had a baby/became a mum? How frequently would you and your partner have sex/experience sexual intimacy? Was it good sex? Was sexual intimacy a big feature of your relationship? 

My sex life pre-baby was great, we had sex on a regular basis, at least 3 [times] a week. It was probably more frequently sex rather than sexual intimacy, but we were both satisfied. It was definitely a big feature of our relationship. 

Has your sex life changed since having a baby/becoming a mum? If so, how? How often do you have sex/sexual intimacy now? 

Sex post baby has definitely changed in a big way. I had a pretty severe tear giving birth which has altered our sex life. Of course, sex is a lot less frequent given we are more tired, etc., but I am also limited in different sexual positions due to the scarring being so uncomfortable. We now have only been having sexually intimate encounters and making love as opposed to sex once or twice a month. 

Has your ability to experience sexual pleasure increased or decreased since having a baby? 

My ability to experience sexual pleasure has definitely decreased since giving birth. The tear was significant and I have had nerve issues as well. It is improving with time so hopefully, sex will become more enjoyable in time.

Is sexual intimacy as important to you now as it was pre-baby?

Sexual intimacy is as important to me now as it was pre-baby. Just now being so time and energy-poor I prefer quality over quantity.

How do you feel about your body and expressing it through sexual intimacy now?

My body has definitely changed post babies, but so has my appreciation, love and awe of what my body is capable of. Sure I have days when I am insecure or a bit bummed I don’t fit into my pre-baby jeans yet, but then I realise this body is a total badass, it has housed and nourished two beautiful beings and this body deserves to be worshipped like the goddess I am! 

Anonymous, 37, Sydney, NSW

Do you think there’s a difference between sex and sexual intimacy? 

To me, sex is the act – penetration or foreplay that can occur with or without intimacy. Intimacy as I understand it to be is the connection that exists between 2 people. A sense of closeness and vulnerability. A loving and respectful openness between 2 people. 

Can you describe your sex life before you had a baby/became a mum? How frequently would you and your partner have sex/experience sexual intimacy? Was it good sex? Was sexual intimacy a big feature of your relationship? 

I would separate this into the sex that we had before trying to have a baby and the sex that happened while trying for a baby. We would typically have sex 2-3 times a week. It was good sex, there was intimacy and passion. To me, intimacy and sex builds connection in a relationship and when there is not enough of that, I can feel that waver.

Sex whilst trying for a baby felt less spontaneous and more like getting a job done at times. I know my partner found it difficult when sex became more about having a baby than sexual intimacy. 

Has your sex life changed since having a baby/becoming a mum? If so, how? How often do you have sex/sexual intimacy now? 

Yes! Sex is less often and less spontaneous. We have to be quieter and it often feels a little more “scheduled”. We try to have sex once a week which generally happens on the weekends in the morning while kids are watching TV!

Intimacy occurs on a daily through touch, kissing, cuddles etc. 

Has your ability to experience sexual pleasure increased or decreased since having a baby? 

My ability to experience sexual pleasure has definitely increased since having a baby. I am more in tune with my body and I self-pleasure much more now than I did pre-kids. I am more confident sexually and I know what I like and what I want. 

Is sexual intimacy as important to you now as it was pre baby?

Sexual intimacy is just as – if not more – important to me now. I think that as parents, it is easy to fall into the trap of feeling like “friends” or “housemates” so it is more important than ever to be intimate and to make sexual intimacy a priority.

How do you feel about your body and expressing it through sexual intimacy now?

I feel confident in my body and feel comfortable exploring pleasure and sexual intimacy. I think women really come into their own in their 30s and beyond and hit their sexual peak later than men. I think it’s more about pleasure and desire than it perhaps was pre-children. 

Anonymous, 39, Clunes, NSW 

Do you think there’s a difference between sex and sexual intimacy? 

Yes! Sex can be awful and generic if not with the right person or at the right time. It’s just the act of sex! No intimacy happening there. I also believe sexual intimacy can occur without having intercourse. There are many ways to be sexually intimate. 

Can you describe your sex life before you had a baby/became a mum? How frequently would you and your partner have sex/experience sexual intimacy? Was it good sex? Was sexual intimacy a big feature of your relationship? 

Active and happy sex life before kids! Haha. A couple of times a week and mostly great sex (unless I was dog tired and couldn’t be bothered!). Intimacy has always been a big feature for us. A great kiss far outweighs a bad sexual encounter! 

Has your sex life changed since having a baby/becoming a mum? If so, how? How often do you have sex/sexual intimacy now? 

It’s finally coming back into its own now that my eldest is 7 and my youngest is 3. Three kids under 4 made it difficult – always tired, time-poor, ‘touched out’ by little humans. To be honest it was the last thing on my mind for a long time – bottom of the priority pile!! My husband was very understanding after the birth of each child, but we also both realised that sex was an important part of our relationship and that we really had to prioritise it (well, I had to prioritise it, I’m sure it was on his mind all the time! Haha). 

The initial period after giving birth made me not want to have sex. 3 vaginal births/tears and 2 prolapses made it physically very difficult. I needed pelvic floor physio for 12 months after the birth of my second and third child, so sex was not on my radar at all at that time. I’m lucky to have such an understanding hubby! Now, though, I’m back and fighting fit and I feel like our sex life has reached an even better, more mature/intimate nature. 

Is sexual intimacy as important to you now as it was pre baby?

Yes, definitely. I think it can really make or break a relationship/marriage. I see it in friend’s relationships and that just makes me want to prioritise it more. 

How do you feel about your body and expressing it through sexual intimacy now?

I have my hang-ups but my husband makes me feel like the sexiest woman alive! I do wish I was 18 again though sometimes!! And a boob job would be nice (kidding). 

Anonymous, 39, Melbourne, VIC

Do you think there’s a difference between sex and sexual intimacy?

Yes! Sex can be lots of things – fun, quick, tender, functional, mechanic or just for the purpose of getting off. Sexual intimacy is feeling connected through sex, sexual experiences and sensuality. 

Can you describe your sex life before you had a baby/became a mum? How frequently would you and your partner have sex/experience sexual intimacy? Was it good sex? Was sexual intimacy a big feature of your relationship?

I was in a relationship for 9 years before having kids so there were lots of ebbs and flows. We had sex anywhere between a couple of times a month to a couple of times a week. It was good sex because after that long we knew each other’s bodies and what felt good physically and mentally, but often it was done without being emotionally connected – just so both of us could get off and then focus on other things. 

The way that I define sexual intimacy – being extremely close and connected through sexual/sensual acts – wasn’t a big feature of our relationship. Sex was fun, functional and served a purpose. It definitely made us feel closer, but we could have tried harder to attune to each other’s desires. 

Has your sex life changed since having a baby/becoming a mum? If so, how? How often do you have sex/sexual intimacy now? 

One year after kids we had sex less often, and 4 years later, before we separated, it averaged at once a week. 

Has your ability to experience sexual pleasure increased or decreased since having a baby?  

Having a baby caused a lot of resentment and inequality between my partner and I. These feelings don’t lend themselves to sexual desire! I’ve also recently come off antidepressants, which had a big effect on my libido and ability to climax.

Is sexual intimacy as important to you now as it was pre baby? 

It’s equally important to me now as it was before kids. 

How do you feel about your body and expressing it through sexual intimacy now? 

Not much different to before having kids. I notice my changed body shape and c-section scar, but it doesn’t affect how I feel about myself or my sexuality. 

Em, 44, Byron Bay, NSW

Do you think there’s a difference between sex and sexual intimacy? If so, can you explain?

Yes… sexual intimacy is to sex what emotions are to thoughts or what connection is to appeal – if that makes sense. Sex may be the physical act and sexual intimacy is a multidimensional experience. 

Can you describe your sex life before you had a baby/became a mum? How frequently would you and your partner have sex/experience sexual intimacy? Was it good sex? Was sexual intimacy a big feature of your relationship?

Sex was life before kids!! (ha-ha ok not really) but it was part of our daily existence. It was more spontaneous and more adventurous. Intimacy evolves with each pregnancy, life change, the chapters of a marriage. I wouldn’t want my sex life to stay the same, it’s on the journey with me. 

Has your sex life changed since having a baby/becoming a mum? If so, how? How often do you have sex/sexual intimacy now? 

Overall, we have less sex now than before children, and now I think about it, less with each child. Although as the kids grow up and we are less sleep deprived, it has made a comeback! 

Has your ability to experience sexual pleasure increased or decreased since having a baby? 

My experience of sexual pleasure has increased with age, the hormones that surge during pregnancy and after I finished breastfeeding also weighed into my sex drive. I think there is a temporary lull in pleasure with a young baby but just as you get your sense of self back over time, your sexual satisfaction levels return too. 

Is sexual intimacy as important to you now as it was pre baby?

I think the definition of intimacy changes with becoming a parent. A man with a pram is sexy!! I don’t think my pre-parent self would have said that sentence.

How do you feel about your body and expressing it through sexual intimacy now?

Priorities shift from feeling ‘loved’ through sexual intimacy to being grateful for it when it happens! In the moment, I don’t think about my flaws, physical or other – and that’s pretty much what being intimate means to me – accepting and loving yourself and your partner. 

Disclaimer: Medical advice suggests that women abstain from sexual intercourse until 6 – 8 weeks postpartum. 

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