5 ways to reclaim your sexuality as a mom
With Mother’s Day on the horizon, we’re thinking about all the mama bbs out there.
There are no two ways around it: moms undergo a massive ordeal during and in the weeks, months, even years after pregnancy. It’s no small feat and — despite all the media’s foolish attempts to convince mothers to get back to their “pre-baby” anything — there’s no going back.
Your body and your relationship to it has changed. Your identity has shifted. Your role in your story has been revised. It's a big deal!
While it’s is normal, valid, and to be expected, this big self-evolution poses equally big challenges. There’s a learning curve to learning how to be in your body for anyone, even more so after it has undergone the objective trauma of something like childbirth.
This can be especially true when it comes to postpartum sex.
Unfortunately, just because you get a confirmation from your doctor at the 6 week mark that you’re healed up and good to go doesn’t mean your libido is going to cooperate.
There are plenty of factors that contribute to this decreased arousal and desire. The literal physical discomfort of healing after birth, the psychological confusion that comes with this new sense of self, shifts in body image, a subconscious fear of your partner because you don’t want to get pregnant again, a disconnect from yourself as a nuanced person because you’re “just a mom” (you’re not), big-time exhaustion for all the obvious reasons…
Just to name a few.
“Just a mom”
Becoming a mom brings with it a whole slough of new things, exciting and challenging alike. Arguably one of the biggest challenges foisted upon you is this notion that they have to give up everything else to truly assume this new role. That in order to be a good mom, you must be a mom first and only; everything else must go.
The message for moms on sexual pleasure is loud and super unclear:
You’re a mom now! That means you can no longer be sexy. But while you’re busy being a primary caregiver to your offspring, make sure to get your libido back up to snuff right away so your partner isn't sad. But don’t neglect your children to do anything for yourself because your identity is just “mom” now. But get your body back to pre-baby sex appeal as soon as possible to remain relevant and desirable to your partner! But don’t be sexy because that's gross, except for in porn where the MILF reigns supreme.
It’s almost as if they’re saying a mom’s sexuality is dependent completely on a man’s assessment of it…
Because obviously the sexual journey doesn’t end with motherhood. It’s another step on the path of self-discovery and understanding. Not to mention that without sex, it would be pretty dang hard to have moms.
Yet mothers continue to be bombarded with this idea that owning their sexuality is undesirable, irresponsible even. It’s no wonder that reclaiming sexual agency is such an obstacle for most mamas.
Moms are powerful af, deserving of a pleasure-filled existence, and shouldn’t be forced to choose between that and their role as a caregiver. Because they are so much more than *just* a mom.
How can you be a mom and reclaim your pleasure?
1. Acknowledge the changes
Everything has changed, so naturally, the person you are going into your intimate and pleasure experiences is different now too. That’s part of the process, and that does not mean you have to leave your right to pleasure behind with your pre-baby self.
On top of everything that comes with having a new being depending on you for survival, you’ll likely find that what was pleasurable before may not yield the same results it once did. This is totally normal and part of your evolution as a sexual being. Give yourself permission to lean into the changes and see what new discoveries they bring.
2. Learn new communication skills
Practicing and enhancing our communication skills is important for the success of any relationship. In times of major readjustment, like maintaining a sense of self through becoming a mom, it becomes all the more crucial.
“We need to ask for exactly what we want,” writes somatic experiencing, practitioner, sexological bodyworker, and birth doula Kimberly Ann Johnson, author of The Fourth Trimester and Call of the Wild. This can be especially challenging because most women especially “don’t have practice at placing our needs and our experience at the center. Most postpartum women don’t want hard and fast quickies, so we are left with asking for exactly what we want and how we want it.”
Integrating a practice of asking for what you need when you need it, both in and outside of the bedroom is a huge step in reclaiming your power as a person amidst the beautiful chaos in this new role.
3. Be a little selfish
There is a lot of pressure on moms to be the selfless nurturers of their family units. But if it’s all output and nothing being done to recharge your stores, burn-out is inevitable.
Just like the airplane security announcement says: put your own mask on first. That level of selfishness is crucial to you being able to continue providing care for those who depend on you. By making and taking the time to honor yourself, you expand your capacity to care for your loved ones.
It can be very hard to stand up and say “I need this” when women especially have never been taught, or have been actively discouraged from, speaking up. But like anything else, it gets easier with practice. And with practice, you can teach your family that your solo time is to be respected as any other part of your household’s rules and routines.
It could be something as simple as saying “Mom needs 15 minutes to...”
4. Make time for masturbation
Okay, you don’t have to tell your kids that you’re taking the 15 minutes to hang out with your vibrator.
But you really should (re)integrate masturbation into your self-care routine as the benefits of doing so are vast:
Boosts immune system (always a good idea with those adorable little germ sacs, I mean, children running around)
Strengthens pelvic floor muscles
Provides a little break from the busy-ness of mom life
Masturbation is an opportunity to reconnect with your body and mind at your own pace, at whatever energy level you might find yourself in that moment. Most of all, it’s a time that can be ALL YOURS, which any mother can confirm is hard to, erm, come by.
And yes, masturbation does have a place within the confines of a happy, healthy partnership too!
5. Talk about it
It’s all too easy to get lost in self-doubt and worry when most people still aren’t really talking about sex after childbirth, and even fewer are discussing pleasure.
While the range of individual experience is vast, chances are you are not alone in whatever it is that you’re experiencing and wondering about. The best way to break down barriers and silly stigmas surrounding motherhood and sexuality is to talk about it more. From your close confidantes to community forums, spreading this conversation farther and wider will give mothers, present and future, more room to flourish as the complex, nuanced creatures that they are..
Having this conscious practice of embodying your power, agency, sexuality and pleasure in a positive way will not only benefit you, but it also sets the precedent for your babes to grow up to be super rad and empowered adults. Just like their mom.