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Sex & the Mummy Brain

When your darling wife / partner gives birth to your first child it changes everything – including sex. offers some top tips for sex through the ‘mummy-years’…


Dr Louann Brizendine is a neuropsychiatric physician who has spent her life studying the male and female brains. She coined the phrase ‘Mommy Brain’ to describe what happens when a woman becomes a ‘Mom.’ It seems some parts of the brain get larger, others get smaller, while birth, nursing & contact with her baby produces large amounts of oxytocin – known as the ‘love hormone.’ You know where this is leading don’t you…?

The needs of her child take precedent over everything else – this is a good thing – she will love, protect and nourish your child…at the expense of just about anything & everyone else. A woman who becomes a mother could be likened to a boy becoming a man – she cannot stop these changes – she is now, and will always be, a mother. How you deal with these changes will affect the way your relationship develops and the family in which your children will grow up.

So, onto sex. Aside from the reality that having a baby means exhaustion and lack of sleep, there are other factors at work. The Mummy Brain does not go off duty – somewhere inside the mind of a woman with a baby there is a part that is always listening for any hint that her baby needs something. Another issue is that marital cuddling and sex are no longer the primary source of oxytocin – contact with baby is now a greater source of the bonding and feel good hormone.

The Mummy Brain is not specifically opposed to sex, but sex is not nearly as high a priority for the Mummy Brain as it was prior to baby. If you can be patient and learn how to roll with the Mummy Brain, you can do better, but the bottom line reality is that sex won’t return to what it was. Accept this, and accept that it’s not her fault, and you will both survive better. The good news is her brain is going to change again as she and her children age, and when the kids are all teens she may develop an interest in sex that seems like an attempt to make up for lost time – something to look forward too & worth sticking around for!

Top Tips:

  • The switch from mummy to lover is not easy – she needs some time to go from doing ‘mummy’ things to being sexual. Help out in the evening as much as you can – perhaps give her some time & space to have a relaxing bath then suggest meeting up in the bedroom once you have the baby settled.
  • If a child interrupts, you may be able to go back to feeling sexual pretty quickly but she will take longer – so take the lead, make it your job to re-settle them (in a loving, gentle way). Make sure she knows everything is ok & it is safe to continue.
  • Sex doesn’t always need to end in orgasm for women – yes this is hard to believe but there you go – they are different to us! Unlike men, women can enjoy sex without climax – the main thing is to make sure you are both communicating your needs & working to meet them.
  • A woman’s body has undergone dramatic changes during pregnancy & childbirth. She needs to know you still find her attractive and sexy. I once heard a celebrity describe her stretch marks as ‘trophies’ of child birth. See if your wife/partner will buy into that idea!
  • A new mummy is a tired woman – allow time for her to nap whenever you can & you might find she has more energy for the bedroom.
  • Give her time out by herself or with girlfriends – she will also need space to feel like a ‘woman’ again rather than a mammary machine (on that subject, they may be tender if she is breastfeeding but this does usually ease with time – be gentle!)
  • Be creative & make the most of opportunities without being pushy e.g. when the kids are older, get up on a weekend morning & get them breakfast. Then settle them in front of a video & go back to bed.
  • Teach your children from a young age to knock on the door & wait until they are asked in…this will pay off big time in the future. Also consider getting a lock on the bedroom door but make sure it is well out of reach of little fingers.

Life has changed for the both of you – you are parents now & negotiating your way through life as a family. Make a commitment to stick together & work on your relationship…and the sex will just get better & better…

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