Q&A: sex at 9 weeks post-partum

Jen writes:

"I'm a new Mom.  Little baby is 9 weeks old.  We're doing pretty well. I'm keeping my anxiety at bay, reminding myself I am doing a good job and getting sleep when I can.  Routine, going for a walk, sunshine and talking with friends all help.

My issue (or one of them) is this: My husband is desperate to have sex and I just don't feel like it. In the beginning baby weeks it was that I was too damned tired.  And now its "I never get much time alone.  Where no one wants me."  At night, it feels like the moment I get done breast feeding and putting baby down, my hubby wants some love.

Now, he is a good hubby.  Helps lots with baby. Is sensitive.  Tries hard not to be pushy and tries to understand.  Yet, he feels unloved and misses 'the old me."  He tells me constantly that I am sexy.  He bought me lingerie and comfy jammies for Mothers Day. He is so happy that I have lost my big belly and have gained big boobs.

The problem I think is me.  I get into bed and I think "I have 3 hours before the next feed."  I need to eat, rest, maybe bathe.  I am not feeling "in the mood."

I think its mainly that I feel pressured even though hubby is not trying to pressure me.  I get reminded of how long its been.  The more I think about it, the more guilty and fretful and pressured I feel.  Ultimately, I would like to just let it go.  I am sure that one day nature will take its course and we will have sex.  I don't want to think about when, where or how.

Am I completely nuts?  Does anyone else feel this way?  Any ideas for helping me feel better?"

Oh, honey. You're barely healed. Your baby is still teeny tiny, nursing all the time, not sleeping on a decent schedule. You're still shell-shocked from suddenly being primarily responsible for another human being 24/7 and realizing your life will never be the same again. You're exhausted and probably at least somewhat overwhelmed, and really touched out.

Of course you're not dying for sex.

6 weeks is what they tell you, but that's just the time it usually takes for the surface hurt of a normal vaginal delivery to heal, and for the post-partum bleeding to stop. 6 weeks does not mean that you're healed if you had deep tears or an episiotomy. And it doesn't mean that you're emotionally in a place in which you need to have sex or even remotely want it.

There's just way too much going on for sex to be a priority right now for most women.

I'M GOING TO BE GRAPHIC IN THE NEXT PARAGRAPH:

If your husband wants to feel close to you at the same time he has an orgasm, you could consider giving him a hand job. He could also masturbate while you're there with him. If you have a huge excess of energy and ambition you might consider oral. But it's not a reasonable expectation to think that you'd be really into sex right now.

GRAPHIC TALK OVER.

This won't last forever. In a few months you'll probably be back on the horse (so to speak) and enjoying sex again. But 9 weeks is still the Red Zone of parenting. It's overwhelming and exhausting and frightening and makes you bone-weary. Horny? Not so much.

So just hang in there and keep waking up every morning. If you can, try to make your husband feel loved and appreciated. But don't feel like there's anything wrong with you if you don't really want to have sex right now. There's nothing wrong with your husband really wanting you right now, either. It's just that your situations don't match up right now. They'll get back into sync again.

If you really want to be proactive about the sex thing, do a bunch of elevator Kegels every day. That way, by the time you're ready to have sex again you'll have amazing muscle control down there and it'll be better than ever. But cut yourself some slack right now. And take a nap if you get the chance.