Illustration by Nhung Lê
Motherhood is an overwhelming, lifelong commitment that affects nearly every aspect of mothers’ lives—including their sex lives. There are physical and mental consequences to birth and all that follows. We asked our Instagram community: “How has your relationship to sex changed since becoming a mother?” Some of the answers surprised us.
Many mothers told us about the toll motherhood takes on one’s body. “Sex has become physically more uncomfortable,” one person said. “Lower energy levels = lower sex drive.” The lines between romantic and parental intimacy sometimes get blurred in uncomfortable ways, especially in the early days of parenthood. One mother told us that “because of nursing, boob fondling/sucking is now odd for me.” Another mother said she often doesn’t “feel like being touched since there is so much physical stimuli from little ones.”
But other moms told us that motherhood has empowered them with self-acceptance, thus improving their sex lives. “I am now infinitely more comfortable and relaxed in my body,” one mom wrote. “Less inhibited!” Another mom wrote, “I’m more ferocious about sex now.” A third woman’s declaration sent shivers down our spine: She now “crave[s] a sensation that is deeper, gentler and more inquisitive than before.” The triumph of birth, in particular, can make a person feel like a superhero; one respondent explained that the experience “empowered” her and caused her to think of her body differently, which resulted in “a positive change in sex.”
Of course, children usually mean less hours in the day for sex. One woman wrote: “No time for good sex because kids are always always there!! So it’s always rushed and I rarely have time to do it.” But this time-squeeze motivates some couples to more intentionally set aside time for intimacy. “We make more of the time we can be intimate,” one respondent said. “More time. More pleasure. More fun.”
We also asked a follow-up question on Instagram: “Any tips in general for being a sexual mama?” Several people emphasized “me time” and self-care: “Do things for yourself that make you feel sexy,” one mother said. “When kids go to bed, wear that sexy outfit or pamper yourself.” Another emphasized communication: “Talk to your partner, let them know you want to explore.” Still others suggested a bit of retail therapy: “Buy shit that makes you feel sexy,” one mom responded. “Yeah that might be cheating or whatever, but it helps!”