13th August 2019

“It’s like a bomb going off for your body and relationship”: Expert advice on sex after kids

Ooh, this is a juicy one. Since launching our expert live chats for Supermushers a few weeks ago, we’ve covered weaning, sleep, breastfeeding, mental health, confidence, birth and much more besides, and last night we dimmed the lights and got intimate with Lisa Williams; mum of two, sex and relationships expert, author of More Orgasms Please: Why Female Pleasure Matters and co-host of The Hotbed podcast.   

We were amazed by how open and candid our Supermushers were with questions for Lisa. Supermushers are VIP Mush users who subscribe to the app to get expert advice, personalised content and access to exclusive live chats (you can give it a whirl here).

Here are a few highlights. 

Q: What’s the most important thing we can learn about sex from your book?

Lisa: We want women to know how they are most likely in orgasm because orgasms are fun and have lots of health and mental health benefits.

We run through lots of information about the clitoris, myths about sex, and offer advice on sex toys that actually work, pelvic floor health, and stuff about the power of fantasy and how to be a bit more body confident in bed

My FAVOURITE ever sex fact is that only about 20% of women can orgasm from penetrative sex. So we want to make that 80% understand that’s there’s nothing wrong with them!

Sex was always a bit disappointing for me, I enjoyed parts of it but I always felt I should be coming to a screaming orgasm during the actual sex.

But the reason I started The Hotbed podcast was because I couldn’t understand everything that was happening to me, my body and my sex drive (or lack of). Breastfeeding hormones zap your desire, I found out, and your pelvic floor (the band of muscle which keeps your bladder, anus and vagina in control) is often shot, which can make sex painful. Not a great combo. I haven’t breastfed for seven months now and I still find it weird to have my boobs touched but I know it will get less weird as time goes on!

Our book shouldn’t have to have been written but it’s amazing how much it is needed because so many women, like us, have little or no idea how their body or their sex drive works.

Q: What can new mums do to improve their sex lives after having kids?

Lisa: First of all, be so kind to yourself. You’ve gone through so much to get pregnant, be pregnant, have the baby and look after it around the clock. It’s like a bomb going off for your body, your relationship and, in my case, the state of my house.

Sleep deprivation has been proven to dent your sex drive, which is probs no surprise to new mums! And yes, it is exhausting. Our advice would be not to worry about full blown sex. You can have an understanding that your sex life will come back when you’re less exhausted and in the meantime keep up the affection: hugs, kisses, snogs if you have the energy, massages. If you want to get a bit saucy sometimes you can be naked with each other, but sex itself can take a backseat at this stage. It’s very normal.

I’ve also discovered that men can experience a drop in the testosterone hormone after having kids so their sex drive can take a kicking too! But lots of men won’t admit it as they worry so much that it will never come back.

It’s good to know what’s going on. It’s really dull doing kegel exercises but they really helped me make sex less painful and eventually led to me having better orgasms so it was win win.

Also you can speed things up with lube (women often are a bit drier after having a baby and during breastfeeding) and/or using a sex toy.

Q: What’s the best sex advice one of your Hotbed podcast guests has given you?

One of our regular guests is the amazing Dr Karen Gurney, an actual sex doctor. She explained female sexual desire to us in a way which blew my mind…

Apparently men can get the horn ‘spontaneously’ ie when they’re not even trying… But women often need a trigger, eg some nice stroking of the bum/inner thighs/boobs (maybe not when you’re breastfeeding!), or watching something sexy, then their desire can equal that of most men.

But they way we often live is not that sexy, and we often don’t allow ourselves to be sexy (we don’t have as much easy eye-candy as the lads, we don’t watch as much porn/Erotica, and we’ve often forgotten how to fantasise), so we don’t often feel sexy and then we think our sex drive has floated away.

Also men tend to be raised to be proud of their sexuality. They can joke about masturbation and don’t get shamed for their bodies or their sex drives as much as women.

Sex on screen and porn do nothing to help that misunderstanding. 

Q: I feel self-conscious about my body after having kids, I’ve put on a lot of weight and feel so embarrassed about my partner seeing me. Help!

Lisa: It’s so hard when you don’t feel like yourself. It’s so nice if your partner can reassure you, and this corresponds with a listener survey we did about sex after kids. Body confidence was one of the top reasons weren’t enjoying sex anymore but the blokes were staying, ‘I still love her and find her sexy’.

We have a whole chapter about body confidence and how it affects sex in the book. I tell a story about how shit I felt about my body even before kids and so one of the sexiest things someone ever said to me was, ‘I have to take my glasses off and I can’t see well without them!’. I was thrilled and it made a one night stand so much more fun as I wasn’t so worried about what I looked like. I also quote a swimwear model who said even though she knows her body is banging, she still finds sex hard to enjoy because she’s always worrying about what she looks like and how she can look her best in different positions!

What I’m trying to say is that for women, body confidence is often low even before babies. We have to look at what is making us feel crap and try to de-programme ourselves from this inner criticism because most good men are not as critical as we are of ourselves

Q: After giving birth it’s still quite tender down there and my partner is scared he’ll hurt me so we haven’t had sex since. Is there anything we can do?

Lisa: It depends on what is causing the tenderness. If it is anything like stitches not healing or being infected then you should get this checked out ASAP by the doctor. Also see a GP if you think you might have a prolapse, so if you feel a heavy or dragging feeling in your vagina. This is common post birth but it is serious so needs medical attention. A weaker pelvic floor can also just make sex a bit sore, so lube and lots of foreplay can help with this.

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