Is my libido normal? Balancing fatigue and low libido after childbirth
When people tell you to rest during pregnancy, few of us listen. We want to enjoy our freedom and not be idle at home when we feel energetic. As first-time mothers we also don’t understand exhaustion until the baby arrives. Fatigue and exhaustion are major issues for intimate relationships, and lead mothers to the question “What is a normal libido and do I have it?”
Why are mothers so fatigued?
In short, an infinite list of external needs and desires requiring attention.
Social expectations place mothers as the default parent, bearing the physical and mental load. Caring for a baby that can’t tell you their needs, missing a village of supporters, missing time alone to recharge your batteries, sleep deprivation, meeting the needs of other family members and household duties, and financial and work responsibilities. Many parents are also unprepared for the reality of parenting, particularly the first couple of years.
What is a normal libido?
This is a very common question from mothers. No one wants to be different or less than average. Everyone wants to be normal especially when it comes to sex and sexual appetite. Clients often tell me they “want to have sex the normal amount of times a week”.
The reality is that everyone’s normal is different. For some, missionary position once a month is normal and satisfying. For others, it’s role-play and toys 4 times a week and self-pleasure 3 times a week.
80% of new mums have no interest in sex.
Why doesn’t my husband understand how exhausted I am and that sex is last on my to-do list?
There is no biological difference between men and women’s libidos. Socially and culturally we are taught differently. We are taught that men need sex more than women because they have higher testosterone and are “always thinking about sex”. WRONG. The biggest influence on libido is our background, knowledge, education and internal expectations. Hormone fluctuations over women’s menstrual cycle do have an impact on our libido but generally; there is nothing in your brain or physical make-up that makes women different from men.
Your normal libido is the level that gives you pleasure and satisfaction.
How to navigate fatigue and low libido
Communicate your expectations
Your partner has no idea how exhausted you are feeling or the state of your libido unless you tell them. Pre or post childbirth discuss what your relationship expectations are. How will you continue to show each other love and appreciation when sex is off the table?
Ok, stay with me on this one! Is an orgasm relaxing for bedtime? For men, yes. Their animalistic brain and body function to deposit their sperm into females for reproduction and then fall asleep. The thinking is that they sacrifice themselves to a potential predator so the female can survive with the offspring. For women, although we don’t have this same general reaction after orgasm, it is relaxing by distributing positive hormones and feelings of euphoria and satiation. Accept and encourage solo play as a healthy part of your relationship.
Allow yourselves to explore your sexuality and desires alone, accepting your body before sharing it. Up the ante by self-pleasuring side-by-side. This involves each other in the moment and is highly arousing, but the separation helps with anxiety or post-baby fears.
Sensual Self Massage
A little touch goes a long way. It can take as little as 2 minutes or as long as you like, but I guarantee your nerves will be firing and happy. Check out this video for how it’s done.
Daily Love Language
Do one thing every day that meets your partner’s love language. Once a day might sound excessive but it isn’t hard, and you’ll reap the rewards. Here are some examples to help you:
- A 10-second hug
- Rubbing your partner’s shoulders whilst they are cooking or feeding baby
- Holding hands as you go for a walk
- Bedtime spooning
- Put baby in a pram and go for a walk without your phones so you can enjoy your surroundings and conversation
- Watch a movie/show together on the couch
- Cook together
- Do groceries together
- Go out for breakfast together
- Shower together
- Pick flowers for your partner (you don’t always have to spend money)
- Get your partner their favourite snack as a surprise
- Buy them something you know they need and have been eyeing but haven’t been willing to spend the money on
- Think of sentimental gifts they would like
- Keep an eye out for coupon discounts to their favourite places to take them for a date
Acts of service
- Do chores around the house without them asking
- Take the baby out for a couple of hours so your partner can relax
- Do something you know they need to do but haven’t had a chance
- Cook them dinner
- Plant something in the garden
Words of kindness
- Tell them they are beautiful/handsome
- Tell them you love them and think they are sexy
- Tell them you feel lucky to have them as your partner and supporter
- Tell them you are their biggest fan
No matter where your libido is right now, know that libido fluctuates based on your personal health and life circumstances. The only question to ask yourself is: Is YOUR NORMAL working for you?
If you are 6 months or more postpartum and not engaging in any intimate activities contact me now for a free 15 minute discovery call.
Written for Bubba Bump by
Vanessa Tarfon, Mmed(HSSH) - Sex Therapist and Founder -www.authenticawareness.com.au
IG - @authenticawareness