We're doing it. We're going to talk about sex after baby. Let me be the first to say that the infamous 6 week checkup post-baby doesn't mean a damn thing. I refuse to believe that I am the only one that preferred sleep to sex for a good, long while after we brought home our newborn from the hospital.
So, without feeling like you need to from 0 to 50 Shades of Grey, what's a mama (or papa) to do? To help us out, I've brought in an expert. I'm so excited to welcome my friend Kim and her sister, Amy, from Red Tent Sisters. They've put together a list of 10 tips and 4 books to help you get your groove back when you've lost that lovin' feeling. Welcome, Kim and Amy!
Whether you’re navigating parenthood, suffering from the effects of hormonal birth control, or experiencing an unexplained libido mismatch with your partner, having a low sex drive can be frustrating at best and a relationship crusher at worst. Before you throw up your arms and turn to pharmacological solutions (with a whole host of their own side effects) consider implementing some of the natural solutions below.
1. Get the ball rolling. While we don’t want to suggest doing something you don’t want to, sometimes it can be helpful to just get started (as long as there’s no pressure to continue). You may find that after reading some erotica, listening to some sultry tunes, or making out with your partner that you’re in the mood to take it further. Or maybe not. That’s the key – to make sure it’s about staying in the moment rather than focusing on a particular end goal.
2. Make sure the sex you are having is pleasurable. It’s a lot easier to get excited about getting it on when you know it’ll be good for you. You may have heard about the statistic that 70% of women need some kind of clitoral stimulation in order to orgasm. If you’re in that category, we highly recommend including activities like oral sex and manual stimulation, and/or using a vibe.
3. Get movin’ and groovin’. Exercise can do wonders for your mood (hello endorphins!). Activities like walking, yoga and pilates are especially helpful for boosting your libido because they increase blood flow to the pelvis. If you don’t currently have an exercise practice, we suggest starting small. For instance, we do a series of stretches three times a day that only take about five minutes (they help pass the time while we’re waiting for the kettle to boil). Our office mates get a kick out of us turning the lunchroom into our own personal yoga studio ;)
4. Soak up some sun. Ever notice you feel friskier in the summer than the winter? There’s a reason for that - Vitamin D! Vitamin D is a pro-hormone (meaning it’s used to build hormones in our body) so a deficiency can cause a number of problems, including a lower sex drive. Researchers estimate that about 75% of us aren’t getting enough Vitamin D naturally, so to compensate we recommend taking a supplement.
5. Cook up some libido-boosting foods. Stuffing yourself with oysters won't magically supercharge your libido, but dietary changes can make a big difference. In general a whole foods diet that is low in sugar, alcohol and caffeine (which we should be doing anyway, right?) is the way to go. You'll also want to add a few foods to your diet that can help to balance your sex hormones. Get some inspiration with this free PDF of 5 libido boosting foods.
6. Catch some Zzzs. If you have trouble getting to sleep, you’re not alone. A survey found that 8.6 million Americans are taking sleeping pills (and the majority of those are women). To help get a better night sleep naturally, we suggest ensuring your room is dark. Amy got blackout curtains and it made a huge difference, or you could try a sleep mask. More serious sleep difficulties are usually hormonally related and/or caused by nutrient deficiencies (like magnesium). Consult your health practitioner or for support if you suffer from chronic insomnia.
7. Unplug, literally. Your bed should be for sleeping (and getting it on!) not checking email. We suggest leaving phones and laptops outside the bedroom so that you can focus on your partner, not your cranky boss.
8. Send a sexy text to your sweetie (or get them to send one to you). When Kim coaches clients and friends on their sex lives she often uncovers a mismatch in expectations. One partner may have spent the day getting revved up thinking about sexy scenarios for when they get home, while the other may have been dreaming about spending the evening in sweats in front of the TV. So when they meet up, their "heads" are in pretty different places. One way to help get on the same page is to send fun texts during the day detailing what you’d like to do when you see each other. Not only will this help make sure you have the same vision for the night, but it also helps build anticipation and arousal.
9. Meditate. There’s no question that stress is a serious libido killer. It’s hard to get in the mood when your mind is focused on work, money, and your mile-long to-do list. Plus, stress impacts our hormones. If you only choose to implement one thing on this list, we highly recommend you make it stress management. Personally we’ve found meditation to be the most effective tool. If you don’t have a meditation practice and you’re looking for inspiration, check out the app Stop Breathe and Think.
10. Know your cycle. If you are menstruating, knowing your cycle is an important tool in understanding your libido. Many of Amy’s clients (and their partners) refer to the post-ovulatory phase of their cycle as the “drought season.” This phase of the cycle has naturally lowered testosterone and decreased lubrication. This means it can be less comfortable to have sex, and take longer to get aroused. By tracking your cycle you’ll have a better sense of how your libido naturally waxes and wanes, and you and your partner can plan accordingly. If you’re on hormonal birth control, you may want to consider ditching it, since a lot of research shows that hormonal contraception (ironically!) has a negative effect on libido.
Here are some books that Kim recommends. I had no idea there were books specifically about sex for moms. That's totally new for me. Kim's favourite is the newly published Come as You Are, by Emily Nagoski. Kim says, "Emily talks about the "dual control" of libido and how we all have an accelerator and brakes when it comes to our sex drive. Some of us have a more sensitive brake (things that turn us off) and some have a more sensitive accelerator (things that turn us on). Therefore, it's important to know whether you need to focus more on "turning the offs off" (body image, stress, etc.) or increasing the "ons" (sex toys, erotica, etc). It's incredibly well researched (you should see the list of references!) and yet also accessible so it doesn't feel like you're reading a textbook ;)"
Thank you so much Kim and Amy for sharing your expertise.
PS - Kim and I are hoping to put together a Q & A type post next, so if you have any questions for her about this topic, or anything connected to sexual health, feel free to leave them in the comments below, or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or Kim at email@example.com. All of the questions will be anonymous.
Kim & Amy Sedgwick love to discuss sex, periods, and all the other things we’re not supposed to talk about. The co-founders of Red Tent Sisters and ecosex.ca, they’ve been featured in every major Canadian news outlet and have become a trusted resource for women seeking natural (effective!) birth control, a more joyful sex life, and an empowered journey to motherhood.
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