Dear MKE SEX,

Ugh, this is hard for me to talk about, but here goes. I’ll be eight weeks postpartum tomorrow. I had my postpartum doctor appointment today and everything was good. I know my husband wants to have a romantic Valentine’s Day date, including sex, that night. It’s reasonable—we haven’t had sex since the baby was born and very infrequently during pregnancy. I love my husband and am totally attracted to him. I just have no sex drive when I’m pregnant or nursing—especially when I’m nursing. NONE. It was like this with my first, too. I’m dreading V-Day and I feel terrible about that. What should I do?

Thanks,
Not Feelin’ It

Dear Feelin’,

The first thing you should know is that your feelings are totally normal. While I’ve known a few women who were eager to return to sex after having a baby, I would say that most feel more like you do. That “all clear” signal from the doctor just means that having sex won’t be harmful to you. It doesn’t mean that you are emotionally ready or physically interested.

There are several things at play here, all of which can really put a damper on feeling sexy. Even if you had an uncomplicated vaginal delivery with an average amount of blood loss, your body is still recovering from pregnancy and birth. After a couple of weeks, we think we should be back to normal (whatever that means). And while some things are probably feeling pretty manageable, your body is going to need another month or more before it’s fully recovered. Additionally, if you’re nursing, you’re probably in charge of all of the baby’s meals, around the clock. Exhaustion is a real libido killer, and if you’re not sleeping, you’re probably not having many sexy urges. Plus, you’re now figuring out how to parent two children instead of one. It can be really difficult to find time to brush your teeth, let alone focus on resuming sex with your husband.

The good news is that you’ve got a few days before Valentine’s to talk to your husband about this. It can be really difficult, but it’s important that you tell him how you’re feeling before the date. Tell him what you’ve told me—that you love him, and you’re attracted to him, but that you’re just not ready to have sex. We’re not always going to feel like having sex, even when we know our partners’ wishes are reasonable. When sex isn’t possible, intimacy is even more important. I believe it’s vitally important to make sure you’re exchanging plenty of non-sexual touch. Long hugs, hand holding, sweet kisses that are not intended to lead to sex—these keep us connected to each other. They express support and love without expectation. Sometimes it’s the expectation of sex that feels like a drag.

And when you talk to him, be ready to share some other ideas to foster intimacy on your upcoming date. Sharing a quiet meal together after the little ones are in bed can be a wonderful respite from the trials of new parenthood. (Have something delivered, as you’re not likely to have the energy to prepare a romantic dinner that late at night for quite a while.) Taking a long drive together, especially if your kids are good car sleepers, allows time for conversation and seeing something other than the four walls of your own living room. Plan it for nap time to really get the most out of the time. Or take a massage class like this one where you can both learn great technique that will bring you together while teaching the importance of boundaries.

When you are ready to resume sex, I encourage you to utilize this same great communication and rely on the intimacy you’ve built in the meantime. Go slow, talk about how it feels, and use as much lube as you need to keep things comfortable.

While our babies are so little, caring for them becomes our whole world. This period of time feels interminable, stretching out in front of us as far as we can see. But it’s actually just one season of our life—it passes quickly and we suddenly find ourselves again. If you and your husband can stay connected, it’s likely that you’ll find yourselves ready for all kinds of new and sexy adventures in the future.

Curious about cunnilingus? Anxious about anal? Do you have questions about queefs or problems with your prostate? Lucky Tomaszek is the education coordinator at The Tool Shed: An Erotic Boutique, Milwaukee’s only mission-driven, education-focused sex toy store. Send her an email at mkesex@gmail.com and she’ll get back to you with an answer.