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Making It Work

Not in the Mood

From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 18 No. 2, March-April 2001, pp. 67-68

"Making It Work" is a regular feature of the magazine NEW BEGINNINGS, published bimonthly by La Leche League International. In this column, suggestions are offered by readers of NEW BEGINNINGS to help mothers who wish to combine breastfeeding and working. Various points of view are presented. Not all of the information may be pertinent to your family's life-style. This information is general in nature, and not intended to be advice, medical or otherwise.

Situation

I have a six-month-old baby, a demanding job, and an upset husband! There's little time for us to be alone together, and he is really starting to complain about the lack of sex. To be honest, I'm not very much in the mood anyway because I am exhausted from working and caring for our baby. But I would like to resume a more normal rnarried life. How do other working mothers find time alone with their husbands? And when can I expect my libido to return?

Response

I hear you! I do not work outside the home, but just day-to-day living can be exhausting when you have a six-month-old baby. Changing a family to include a baby is stressful, and sometimes the lack of sexual desire is a reaction to the stress of this new lifestyle.

Men sometimes don't understand how doing chores around the home can help them become quite attractive: clearing dinner dishes without being asked, folding a load of laundry, and filling the car's gas tank. You might tell your husband how taking over some of these tasks might help rekindle your desire and help you preserve your energy.

If you feel your level of exhaustion and lack of interest in sex is out of the norm, you might consider a checkup with your health care professional. Some health concerns common among postpartum women can affect libido, and they can be identified with a few blood tests.

And, by all means, find some friends and talk with them about your feelings. There is a good chance that many of your friends have felt the same way and would be willing to help you resolve your dilemma.

Heather "Sam" Doak
Marietta OH USA

Response

Your second sentence starts with, "There's little time..." That's the biggest single issue facing parents because babies want all the time you'll give. When our daughter was tiny, she would often wake us up a half-hour before the alarm went off in the morning or keep us up a couple of hours beyond our desired bedtime. As I got her settled back down and groaned looking at the clock, my husband would joke, "Sleep fast!"

Somehow, my husband's joke put things into perspective. You just can't rush things like sleep. You also can't rush female sexual response. Motherhood can feel like a conspiracy against marital satisfaction. Just when your hormones cause your libido to need a longer warm-up, your child is taking up all your time and you're so exhausted that you fall asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow!

Communication is essential to being able to enjoy both your baby and your marriage. As THE WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING
states under "Babies, Beds, and Sex": "You will have to outwit the baby, but there are two of you." Plot together how to thwart the conspiracy.

In the scenarios that have worked for us, I see three important common elements: rest and/or relaxation for mother, a full tummy for baby, and some manifestation of appreciation from spouse to spouse. All the best to you and your husband as you conspire to enjoy marriage!

Ruth Piatak
Encinitas CA USA

Response

I can empathize with your situation. My daughter is two-and-a-half years old, and my libido did not return fully until she was two years old. My husband was not thrilled with the lack of physical intimacy in our marriage, but he understood the commitment and responsibility of breastfeeding and caring for our child.

No one can predict when your desire to make love will return. just as all babies are different, so are all mothers! Allowing only six months to return to "normal" may be putting too much pressure on yourself. Sitting down with your husband and explaining how you feel and listening to how he feels might be a first step toward gettinl, thines back on track. Making love isn't the only way to be intimate with your spouse. There are other possibilities. Take a shower together while your baby is sleeping. Take turns reading a book or article to each other while baby is nursing or napping. Tickle each other! Cook a meal together. All these are little things that can put some excitement back into a marriage.

Cutting back on responsibilities is one way to make time for other things. Focus on what things are of the utmost importance, (i.e. baby, spouse, meals) and ignore the rest. That ring around the tub will be there tomorrow! Best wishes to you and your family!

Stephanie Jordan
Athens GA USA

Response

Perhaps your local La Leche League Group would consider having a Couples Meeting. There, you and your husband will meet other couples who have "been there, done that." You will hear many ideas from other parents who have found ways to spice up their lives again. You are both different people now and adding a member to the family cantake some getting used to! I've found that patience is a key to parenting.

A former La Leche League Leader told me that she and her husband used to make love in the middle of the night after the baby had awakened and nursed. The shower is also a nice place for intimacy if the baby is in a safe place. Hang in there!

Ruth McAllister
Kunming, Yunnan Province, China

Response

Some researchers have suggested that in cultures where mothers receive a lot of postpartum care and attention, they may be more interested in resuming sexual relations. If this is so, it may be due to mothers simply getting more rest. But I wonder if the level of care also helps mothers to feel more valued and loved and, thus, more ready to feel loving towards others. Although you probably aren't able to summon up this level of care, you can think of little ways to take care of and be nice to yourself and things others can do for you that will make you feel loved and relaxed.

Some mothers report they feel more interest in sex once they resume ovulating again. There probably is a hormonal connection, but there may also be a physical consideration—vaginal lubrication. Try using a water-based vaginal lubricant during the day and see if your interest increases by nighttime. Also, La Leche League publishes a pamphlet on Breastfeeding and Sexuality that you might find helpful.

Esther Schiedel
Corvallis OR USA

Last updated Thursday, October 19, 2006 by njb.
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