Haven't wanted nooky since giving birth? Find the whole idea of sex kind of ... repellent? Don't panic or feel guilty: After a woman has a baby, it's common for her body to bounce back before her sex drive does. One sexpert explains -- and offers some tips that will help you get back on the horse (so to speak).
Guest blogger Elizabeth Kuster: Why does sexual desire wane after you have a baby? Hilda Hutcherson, M.D., gynecologist and author of What Your Mother Never Told You About Sex, cites four main culprits -- some physical, some emotional. But you can overcome them....
Culprit #1: Prolactin. "Women who breast-feed have high prolactin levels," notes Hutcherson. "Prolactin is a hormone that has been shown to decrease the desire for sex. Your body releases it as long as you breast-feed -- so if you breast-feed for a year, you'll experience a lowered libido for that year."
Culprit #2: Fatigue. "Caring for a newborn is extremely exhausting, and exhaustion kills the desire for sex" says Hutcherson. "To enjoy sex, you need energy. You also need to be relaxed and fairly stress-free, and that's hard for any new mom."
Culprit #3: The "Mommy" Mindset. "Your whole focus changes when you become a mom," says Hutcherson. "It shifts away from yourself and your relationship with your partner, and settles mainly on your child. You can get so caught up in taking care of your child that you unconsciously put your sex life on the back burner. Sex loses significance -- you may even stop seeing yourself as a sexual being."
Culprit #4: Bad Body Image. "Sometimes women get overly concerned about the ways that pregnancy and childbirth have changed their bodies," says Hutcherson. "Their belly isn't as flat as it used to be; their breasts aren't as perky -- so they don't feel as attractive. It's difficult to feel desire when you don't feel good about the skin you're in."
To get your sex drive back into gear:
Remember its importance. "Sexual intimacy is what keeps a relationship together," notes Hutcherson. "It's absolutely vital for the survival of the family that you and your partner maintain the fire in your relationship. Don't forget that!"
Make sex a priority. "In the past, you might have just let things happen naturally," says Hutcherson. "You don't have that luxury anymore. Now you're going to have to take a more active role in ensuring that sex happens on a regular basis. You're going to have to make an effort, plan ahead, pencil it in, arrange for childcare -- do whatever it takes so you get time each week to focus purely on your partner and your sexual relationship."
Just do it. "Here's the funny thing about sex," says Hutcherson. "The less you have it, the less you want it; the more you have it, the more you want it. So ... start having it! Once you get into it again, you'll think, 'This is so nice,' and that will lead to more sexual activity -- and more desire."