Written by Coni Longden-Jefferson Published on 16th September 2020 Updated on 23rd May 2022

Making love, getting it on, the birds and the bees - whatever you call it, sex is something that both fascinates (and beguiles) us from the moment our teenage hormones kick in. However, all too often female pleasure is sidelined, relegated to “co-star” in a sexual production which largely focuses on pleasing our partner. But the truth is, if we tap into our sensuality, we can improve our sex lives for both ourselves and the person we want to share our most intimate moments with – which can be especially powerful after having a baby. 

A postpartum lull 

In the postnatal period, mothers often report experiencing a sexual lull. This is the phase when the body recovers, and bedtime becomes more about night feeds rather than night moves. ?‍♀️

While there’s no strict advice on when you should start having sex again after giving birth, it generally depends on whether it’s painful for you or not – which will vary depending on the nature of your labor. However, a study from the University of Michigan has shown that mothers are often driven by their partner’s desire rather than their own, which highlights the lack of focus we have on our own pleasure. 

Female sexual desire can take a while to return after labor, and it’s not simply down to physical recovery. Your hormones have been on a wild ride, and until they rebalance, your sexual desire can go a little AWOL. Estrogen and progesterone levels drop dramatically after you give birth, and estrogen stays lower for longer if you breastfeed. These hormones are intrinsically linked to our sex drive – estrogen in particular is responsible for getting the blood pumping to our sexual organs and a lack of it can lead to vaginal dryness and low libido. 

A little self-love goes a long way

While there may be physical hurdles to navigate, there can sometimes be emotional baggage that weighs you down. A lot has been written on the ways to nurture your relationship with your partner in the early stages of parenthood, but less is discussed regarding the relationship we have with ourselves. 

Over 50% of mothers report feeling negative about their bodies after having a baby, and this can be compounded by conditions such as postpartum depression or traumatic birthing experience. When we struggling with our body image, feelings like self-confidence and sexiness tend to evaporate. Pregnancy, birth, and motherhood can also leave women lacking ownership over their bodies, which can make it harder to see ourselves as sexual beings. Sometimes, we just need a little reminder to reconnect with our sensuality.

Moms masturbate too 

So, this might sound like an obvious place to start, but masturbation is a one-way ticket to sensuality city. While women still may not masturbate quite as frequently as their male counterparts, (men are twice as likely to do it once a week), female self-love is no longer the taboo it once was. And, just because you’re a new mom, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be enjoying it too! Masturbation, (and the orgasms that come with it) have a multitude of benefits –  including increasing the chance of climaxing during sex with your partner. Solo-orgasms also contribute to better sleep, increased relaxation, and decreased stress and anxiety – three things that new moms often need some help with. 

Not only can enjoying a little self-pleasure feel great, but it’s an opportunity to reconnect with yourself on a new, intimate level. Things may feel a little different after giving birth, but that’s okay. Taking the time to get to know yourself and understand what your body needs can kickstart your desire, which will be incredibly helpful if you’re trying to navigate the new chapter of postnatal sex. 

Sensuality *without the sex*

While we’re all on board with the mission for more female masturbation, there are many other ways to awaken your sensual side that don’t end in orgasm. Sensuality is about connecting with your body and engaging with all of your senses – touch, taste, smell, sound, and sight. It could be something as simple as listening to your favorite piece of music, letting it flow through your body as you dance like no one’s watching. Or perhaps it’s a quiet moment, practicing mindful breathing, and feeling your breath fill your lungs.

These things may seem silly and simple, but as a new mom, you can find yourself on autopilot, trying to juggle the constant stream of tasks involved with looking after your baby. When we spend more time ‘doing’ and less time ‘feeling’, we can become disconnected from our sense of self, which can impact many areas of our life -– including our sexuality.   

Ticking the boxes of sensual self-care

A new mom’s to-do list can feel never-ending, which is why it’s important to schedule some time for yourself. Sensual self-care isn’t selfish, and it can have a huge impact on your sex life, your relationship, and even help you be a happier, healthier mother.  If you’re looking for a bit of inspiration, here are five ideas to help you reconnect with yourself both emotionally and physically – putting your sensuality back at center stage. 

Sensual me-time: It may be difficult to take time for yourself right now, but even an hour spent pampering yourself can be enough to reawaken a bit of that sensual feeling you may have lost during a day of changing nappies.

Get physical: Whether it’s yoga, running, or taking part in a fun class, exercise gets us out of our head and into our bodies. Research has shown that working out can also go along way to boosting your sex drive! 

Be mindful: You don’t need to do daily, hour-long meditation to reach nirvana. Taking a mindful approach to everyday tasks – like making a cup of tea, or taking a shower – can awaken your senses and help you reconnect with yourself and the world around you. 

Get touchy-feely: Touching yourself doesn’t always have to mean masturbation. A few moments of self-massage can release tension, release oxytocin, and remind yourself that you are a sensual being, even in the middle of a busy day. 

Nurture your confidence: New moms can often lose their sense of self, which can affect their feelings of desirability. Whether it’s wearing your favorite outfit, taking the time to do your hair, or simply strutting down the street to your favorite song – think about what makes you feel confident and make some time for it. You deserve it. ?