Pregnant women and new moms often struggle with supporting their new identity as moms and balance it with intimacy with their partner. And sex during and post-pregnancy remains a taboo topic among women themselves.
One study found that health providers discussed contraception with 96 percent of women, but only 15 percent of those women voluntarily brought up sexual issues.
And what complicates things is that there isn’t any one general issue that all women endure, says Madison Young, sex educator, mother and author of the new book, The Ultimate Guide to Sex through Pregnancy and Motherhood.
“We are all unique sexual snowflakes and every mom’s journey into motherhood is different,” Young says. “But I’d say that one of the most common challenges I see amongst new moms surrounding sex, pleasure and intimacy is that mom’s expect for things to return ‘back’ to the way they were pre-pregnancy. And it doesn’t work that way. We don’t move backward in time, we move forward. Moving forward can mean new adventures, new possibilities, and yes also new challenges now that you are a mom.”
What drives these new demands? The time and energy of motherhood.
“A new mom’s emotional and physical energy is in high demand from a new born and… [t]here is sleep deprivation, hormonal shifts, expectations and social pressure to be the best mother that you can be,” the frequent sex education panelist added. “It can deplete a new mom of the energy, wellness, confidence self love and self care that she needs to feel at a place of balance and erotically or sexually grounded and connected to her own body or to a partner.”
Slow and steady is the way to go to restore intimacy, Young adds.
“In my book I place a major focus on loving ourselves first in order to love and gift love and intimacy to our partner. Being slow and gentle with ourselves, accepting our bodies, energy levels, and sexual libido as they are that day. Finding ways to nourish ourself and honoring our own body on a daily basis even if it is for only a few minutes each day.”
La Leche League points out that breastfeeding stimulate bonding withing mom and baby, but partners who once enjoyed the new mom’s breasts alone get left out often.
Sometimes it is because mom is uncomfortable.
Young advises: “It’s important to trust and honor both you and your partners feelings about bodies and touch. First try connecting with your breasts in a way that feels pleasurable. These are your breasts. Not your baby’s breasts, not your your partner’s breasts, they are yours and you are a powerful fabulous multi-faceted human being that is able to nurture a human in one role, and seduce a human in another role.
“Find pleasure within yourself and decide what you feel comfortable sharing with your partner during this time in your new motherhood”
At times it is dad who is not cool with having to share but that is when it is time to get creative.
“[I]if your partner expresses a disinterest in your breasts while you are nursing, take this as an opportunity to explore new erogenous zones,” Young recommends. “G spot stimulation, deep throating, foot fetish, different elements of kink or role play. And just because your partner is uncomfortable with breast play during early motherhood doesn’t mean that you can’t pleasure your breasts on your own. Reclaiming our bodies through masturbation and self-pleasure can be incredibly empowering, stir up and generate new juicy erotic energy and stimulate your desire for sexual play with your partner.”
Maintaining intimacy throughout pregnancy and even new motherhood is essential for a relationship, as there have been several reports of infidelity by a spouse during this sensitive time.
“The important thing is to stay connected, explore new avenues of intimacy and touch, and keep communicating with your partner about your desires and emotions and hold space for your partner to communicate about their desires and emotions,” Young adds. “There are so many ways to stay erotically connected with your partner during pregnancy from erotic massage, oral sex, vibrators and sex toys, making out and even dance. Think of the type of intimate touch or play that you might be craving right now and communicate with your partner about that. Perhaps being blind folded and fed juicy summer time strawberries and chocolate! Expand your mind past intercourse and allow the possibilities to unfold.”
She also offers some insight into dealing with the cheating fears.
“I think either partner cheating during pregnancy is likely a symptom of some of this fear and stress as well as insecurities in their new roles and their transition into those roles, while perhaps clinging onto a pre-parenthood pre-pregnancy life.” says the brand new mom to two after recently given birth. “Having solid communication with your partner prior to pregnancy can be a great asset in moving forward into pregnancy.”
Madison Young values sexual education in her work and has taught workshops and lectures, and she acted as a panelist on the topics of sexuality, feminist porn studies, and the politics of BDSM around the world including at Yale University, Hampshire College, Northwestern University, University of Toronto, University of Minnesota, and the University of California at Berkeley.