Is it normal to have no interest in sex after having a baby?

A woman standing alone in a dark room, holding her newborn in front of a mirror.
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Even though most healthcare providers will clear you to have sex again four to six weeks after giving birth, you might find that you have no interest in doing the deed, and that's normal. Many new moms have low sex drives after having a baby: Breastfeeding, physical recovery, and postpartum fatigue can all affect how you're feeling.

You're not alone if sex after baby is the last thing on your mind right now: One study found that women reported lower levels of sexual satisfaction for up to a year-and-a-half after giving birth. In the first six months postpartum, women were about twice as likely to report having sexual dysfunction than they were prior to giving birth. There’s not as much research on how having a baby affects a new mom's partner, but one small study found that both male and female partners were less interested in sex after their partner gave birth.

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There a number of factors contributing to your low sex drive after baby:

You're exhausted. First, your sex drive has to compete with the overwhelming fatigue that often accompanies taking care of a newborn. New babies are demanding. They require around-the-clock attention and a great deal of physical contact, and this can be both physically and emotionally draining. When you finally have a moment to yourself, you may need a break from intense physical attachment, making sex low on your list of priorities.

Your hormones are in flux. Major hormonal shifts can make you feel off balance in the postpartum period. This is especially true if you’re breastfeeding. When you’re nursing, estrogen production decreases, which can lead to vaginal dryness. That can make you feel like you’re not physically ready for sex, although using lube can help ease any physical discomfort.

Physical setbacks. Your body is healing from labor and delivery, and that process might be slower if you had any perineal tearing or if you're recovering from a c-section. You may also worry that intercourse will be painful, and for many women, the first sexual encounters after childbirth can be uncomfortable. In addition, you’re probably getting to know your new postpartum body and you may not feel entirely at ease with it yet. These feelings can all have a dramatic impact on your body image and make you feel less desirable.

Emotional setbacks. Postpartum depression is a serious-but-treatable maternal mental health condition that affects 1 in 8 new moms. One symptom of PPD is a lack of interest in activities that usually interest you, which may include sex. Even if you’re not battling depression, the emotional toll of taking care of a baby can make it difficult to get in the mood. If you think you may be suffering from PPD, reach out to your provider so you can get help.

You're nervous about getting pregnant again. Evolution may help explain this. In nature, mother animals rarely mate when they're busy rearing their young. Their bodies just wouldn't be up to the additional burden of another pregnancy. The same may be true of women – in fact, experts recommend waiting at least 18 months before getting pregnant again. Talk to your provider about contraception, including birth control pills or an IUD. That can ease your fears and help you have sex without worrying about adding to your family. 

Tips for getting your sex drive back after baby

The good news is that most women report that their decreased libido is temporary. With time and patience, you and your partner can rebuild a satisfying sexual relationship. These tips can help:

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Start with intimate touching or foreplay. The lack of intimacy after baby isn’t just about sex. It can be hard to find a moment to connect with your partner emotionally, let alone sexually. Start slowly by touching, kissing, and connecting throughout the day. When you’re able to have sex, use plenty of foreplay (and lube!) to increase desire and readiness.

Pleasure yourself. During the postpartum period it’s normal to feel out of touch with your body. Things that once felt good might not feel quite the same after delivery. Masturbation can be a great tool to get to know your new body and connect with yourself after giving birth. Once you know what feels good to you, you’ll be able to share that with your partner. 

Communicate with your partner. Communication is always key during sex, especially in the postpartum period. Talk openly with your partner about your concerns and listen to theirs. This is important before and during sex. Check in with each other to make sure everyone is getting enjoyment, and don’t be afraid to try again later.

Make time for sex. If you and your partner both want to have sex, try to put each other at the top of your to-do lists. (Folding laundry or washing bottles can wait.) Agree to make sex a priority, then work together to get the housework done when baby is awake.

Go easy on yourself. Finding a new sexual groove after having a baby can take time, but most people find a new normal for their sex lives after adding to their family. Give yourself grace and remember that when it comes to sex after baby, time is on your side.

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Read more:

Bonding with your newborn

How a postpartum doula can help

Postpartum warning signs

Follow your baby's amazing development

BabyCenter's editorial team is committed to providing the most helpful and trustworthy pregnancy and parenting information in the world. When creating and updating content, we rely on credible sources: respected health organizations, professional groups of doctors and other experts, and published studies in peer-reviewed journals. We believe you should always know the source of the information you're seeing. Learn more about our editorial and medical review policies.

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Leeman LM, et al. 2012. Sex after childbirth: Postpartum sexual function. Obstetrics & Gynecology 119(3):647-55. a new window [Accessed March 2022]

Gutziet, Ola, et al. 2020. Postpartum female sexual function: risk factors for postpartum sexual dysfunction. Sexual Medicine. 8(1):8-13. a new window [Accessed March 2022]

March of Dimes. 2018. Your body after baby: The first 6 weeks. a new window [Accessed March 2022]

March of Dimes. 2017. How long should you wait to get pregnant again. a new window [Accessed March 2022]

Mayo Clinic. 2020. Sex after pregnancy: Set your own timeline. a new window [Accessed March 2022]

Nemours Foundation. 2018. Recovering from delivery. a new window [Accessed March 2022]

NHS. 2018. Vaginal changes after childbirth. a new window [Accessed March 2022]

University of Michigan. 2013. Both parents experience highs and lows in sexuality after childbirth. a new window [Accessed March 2022]

Kelly Burch

Kelly Burch is a freelance journalist covering health, entrepreneurship, family, and more. She's passionate about bringing complex topics to life through stories that are easy to read and informative. Burch lives in New Hampshire with her husband and two young daughters. When she's not at her desk, you'll find her kayaking or hiking in the wilderness around her home. Burch is currently writing a book about traveling around the United States in an RV with her family for seven months.