If you’ve just welcomed a baby into the world, congratulations mama. Having grown a baby over the past nine months, and having given birth, you deserve a gold medal! But we also know how exhausting those first few weeks with your newborn can be. Mostly it’s a never-ending cycle of feeding, burping and changing nappies – on little to no sleep. As for any hanky-panky between the sheets – um, fat chance, right?
You might be just fine about this. (It’s the last thing on your mind right now.) But, if your man is wanting “to get it on,” and you’re wondering if there’s something wrong with you because you’re just “not in the mood”, there’s a very plausible scientific explanation.
Low sex drive is normal after birth
According to a study published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, having a low sex drive after you’ve had a baby is a normal evolutionary adaptive response designed to ensure you survive to continue to reproduce.
Yes, you might have put it down to exhaustion, the changes happening to your body and even because you feel “touched out” being with the baby so much. But, besides these reasons, which are all valid, it’s interesting that the flood of hormones surging through your body has an even greater influence on your sex drive than you’d think.
Experts explain that when you’re pregnant, your reproductive hormones are up to 1 000 times higher in your body than when you’re not pregnant. When you give birth, this level drops dramatically. The low levels of oestrogen that results not only causes vaginal dryness, they say, but also loss of your sex drive.
But there are others hormones at play, too
Oxytocin is the love hormone that is released by your body when you hug others, have sex and breastfeed. Before you give birth, touching your partner will trigger the release of this hormone, which helps you feel good and help you to bond with each other.
But after giving birth, experts say all the skin-on-skin contact between you and your baby increases the release of this hormone, helping you to bond with your baby. According to evolutionary thinking, this is nature’s way of ensuring you take care of your baby and that he survives.
The hormone prolactin, they say, also influences your behaviour. It increases when you’re pregnant and remains high while you’re breastfeeding, helping to keep oestrogen levels lower and keeping your period at bay. The down side is it also depresses the libido.
Good news is low libido is temporary!
The bottom line is that if you’re not in the mood for sex in the first few months after having a baby, don’t stress too much – it’s perfectly normal. The good news is that it’s not forever. When your hormones return to pre-pregnancy levels (and especially after you stop breastfeeding), you’ll soon find that your mood improves, you’re not so tired and you’ll be enjoying that new found mojo with your partner.
Content editor and writer on Living & Loving, Sonya has over 25 years experience in the media industry. She edited Living & Loving magazine for six-and-a-half years and is the former editor of Longevity magazine. She’s won numerous media industry awards and is passionate about the health and wellbeing of moms and children.
Outside of work, she enjoys trying out recipes, reading crime mysteries and thrillers, practicing yoga, and exploring new destinations.
Learn more about Sonya Naudé.