The addition of children into a couple's marriage and sex life is a complicated mix of joy and stress. Though often delighted at the birth of a child, women and couples are often not prepared for the additional stress a child puts on the body and the relationship.
A complicated mix of psychological and physiological components often result in a woman who, although quite interested in sex prior to bearing children, experiences a low drive for sex after childbirth.
Pregnancy and lactation can wreak havoc with a woman’s hormone levels and they may not return to pre-pregnancy levels for a long time after the birth of a child, if ever.
Hormones are a critical component of normal sexual response. Low levels of testosterone-related hormones, estrogens and DHEA-S can contribute significantly to a woman's low sex drive.
Both vaginal deliveries and C-sections can put stress on different parts of the woman’s body by damaging nerves, stretching muscles or just causing irritation. Some of these symptoms may go away after some time; others may not.
Psychological factors may include exhaustion. (You can't minimize the impact of being tired on your libido.) You may also want to explore changing feelings towards your body, how it may look and feel differently since becoming a parent.
Also, there may be changed feelings about your own sexuality now that you are a mother and you and your husband are no longer only a couple but parents as well.
With parenthood, often the ideal of “spontaneous” sexual desire gives way to the reality that parents may have to create sexual opportunities for themselves.
The enormous life change that parents experience from the birth of a child often does not allow them to make the time or space in their lives for those experiences or situations which would allow them to feel sexy. This reality can be upsetting to both parties until other avenues for sexual satisfaction take the place of the spontaneous rendezvous.
In situations where a woman is unhappy with her sex life, an integrated approach that deals with both physical and psychological factors after childbirth will be the most successful.
A woman troubled by her low sex drive after childbirth should seek out a physician who can run a full panel of blood tests, measure nerve sensation and provide a full physical exam.
Read Dr. Bat Sheva Marcus' article on low desire after childbirth.