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"My body now looked and felt so foreign." What no one told me about postpartum sex.

Before having a baby, I made a LOT of promises to myself about the 'kind of woman' I would be once I gave birth.  

I would keep exercising. I would keep my hair clean. There would certainly be no 'mum buns'.  

I’d have stacks of coffee dates with the girls, and I certainly wouldn’t let my child’s sleeping habits affect my social life.  

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I’d be one of those mums from the movies that wears cute silk pyjamas and moisturise my hands as I tuck myself into bed.  

And most importantly? My sex life CERTAINLY would not suffer.

It is safe to say that I have not lived up to one single promise I made myself.  

In fact, I LAUGH in the face of those promises, while I scrunch my hair up into a frizzy mum bun for the fifth day in a row and reschedule the social engagement I made with another mum friend that we’ve now cancelled 12 times.

We may catch up for a coffee when our sons start primary school in six years.  

That seems manageable. Because instead of coffee dates, I have coffee stains. And these coffee stains (on most of my ugly but very comfortable flannel pyjamas) do not get in the way of me wearing said pyjamas multiple times before they get washed.  

I’m still yet to return to the gym, and my son is on a sleeping schedule that allows us to maintain our sanity - but not much of a social life.  

So, what about sex? Well, thanks to a last-minute c-section, my lady parts remained UNTOUCHED for the entire pregnancy and birth (apart from one super fun internal ultrasound at 20 weeks).

I hobbled out of hospital with a very sore abdomen, but a pristine vagina! 

My sex life was saved! 

I walked in to see my OB for our six week postpartum checkup with a list of questions. 

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All pretty standard stuff, really. 

I had queries about my scar and when I could return to the gym (LOL). She answered them all thoroughly, as I wrote notes. And then she pivoted to the fun stuff.  

I got the all clear to get freaky (so to speak). But she made it very clear that it might not be entirely comfortable. 

This confused me. Why wouldn’t it be comfortable? I didn’t have a vaginal delivery! What do you mean, lady? We’re all good down there! I made it out in one piece!

She patiently explained that as long as I was breastfeeding, my hormones would be a little all over the place.  

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Blah, blah, blah. Hormones, hormones, hormones. I took note of what she said and filed it away for another time. 

After all - I was leaky, sweaty, tired and felt gross. The last thing on my mind was sex. All I really wanted... was sleep. 

Over the coming months, however, I learned that she was, in fact, right. 

That as long as I breastfed... sex would be... well... how do I say this politely... about as comfortable as nails screeching against a chalkboard. 

The top line explanation is that breastfeeding keeps our oestrogen levels low, and oestrogen is responsible for lubrication. 

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So... imagine chewing a mouthful of dry crackers after a 12 hour hike through the Sahara desert with no water. 

Yep. You get the idea. Not so sexy. 

I had read a lot of books, and I had spoken to a lot of mums. But somehow, this whole 'hormones completely ruining your sex life' thing had gone under the radar.

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However, once I started mentioning it to mum mates of mine, many of them had experienced the same thing.  

Sex was less than comfortable and sometimes impossible for many breastfeeding mamas. Many abstained altogether. Everyone assured me I’d get back on the horse eventually, so to speak. 

I can’t help but remember that strange dichotomy of being so proud of my body for growing a baby, but so disappointed that my body now looked and felt so foreign.  

I could never hate my body - because it gave me Buddy! 

My hormones may have wreaked havoc on me emotionally and physically, but they allowed my body to bring me life’s greatest gift.  

While I understood the physiology of it all and was grateful that I had been able to breastfeed so well, I hated that my sex life ground to a halt at a time in my life when I needed intimacy and reassurance most.

It was yet another part of 'post baby life' that left me feeling as though I was a completely different person than the one I knew 12 months ago.  

So much of what made me feel like me had already disappeared - my body, my work, my sleep, and sometimes my sanity. Adding sex to the list felt like a cruel, but entirely predictable, joke.

In the end, things did get back to normal. 

I’ll spare my husband further embarrassment by not divulging too many details... but once I 'shut the milk bar' so to speak, my hormones did start to balance out again, and if we hark back to my earlier analogy, in lieu of a mouthful of dry crackers, I got a long cold drink of water.  

It was our fourth wedding anniversary. 

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We had a gorgeous dinner at a country hotel minutes away from my in-laws. A bottle of French pinot. We laughed a lot. We felt like ourselves again. And... we did what mummies and daddies do when they love each other very much.

And then my husband, in all his wisdom and kindness, left me alone in our hotel room for the night while he returned home to do the night shift with the baby. 

In ANY other situation, I would have felt abandoned. But any new mum knows that a night ALONE in a hotel room is up there with a lottery win. I’m not sure what I enjoyed more - the sex or the solitude. 

Ha, just kidding, it was the sex. 

Entertainment guru Ash London's radio career has seen her host multiple shows, including Take 40 Australia, 2Day FM Breakfast, Shazam Top20, and her flagship national nights show, Ash London LIVE which ran for five years across the Hit Network, finishing up in October 2021, just weeks before Ash gave birth to her first son, Buddy.

2019 saw a return to television for Ash, co-hosting MTV’s flagship show MTV TRL, as well as joining the cast of Network Ten’s Have You Been Paying Attention? In 2021, she was the face of the Destination NSW tourism campaign 'The Long Road', a celebration of music and travel.

Ash is an ambassador for Greyhound Rescue NSW, and lives in Sydney alongside her husband, son Buddy and 'firstborn child' Honey, the laziest greyhound on the planet.

Feature Image: Instagram/@ash_london.

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