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When it comes to sex after childbirth, TV and film actress Eva Amurri Martino is pulling back the curtain, sharing her experiences and offering positive advice to her fellow moms: "Give yourself a break."
In an essay published Tuesday on People's website, the "Californication" star and wife of sportscaster Kyle Martino assured her peers: "There is no normal" with regard to postpartum intimacy.
"You created a human," wrote the actress, who gave birth to daughter Marlowe May in August 2014. "You brought a new and perfect life into the world. You are not how you have sex, or who you have sex with. You are not what your body looks like — you are what your body has accomplished."
Amurri Martino acknowledged insecurities that manifested during her pregnancy.
"Sex after baby is a topic that eight or nine months ago I would have never even thought I'd be ready to discuss," she added. "It's symptomatic of how insecure and strange I was feeling about my own sexuality and our sex life at the time, and I was so worried about what I thought it meant about me and our marriage."
She wrote that while she was pregnant, she remained affectionate with her husband, but sex was less frequent and "practically nonexistent" in the days leading up to her delivery. "I mention this because I knew a couple of people during my pregnancy who were all about sex when they were pregnant and it ended up making me feel like a total asexual weirdo," she recalled. "It really worried me that I was somehow not like other pregnant women — even though I know now that this isn't the case at all."
Injuries sustained during childbirth also took their toll. "I needed a lot of stitches and the healing process was worse than the birth itself," she noted.
After the requisite six weeks passed, Amurri Martino still wasn't in the mood, adding to her anxiety. "I felt so exhausted, emotionally raw, and my body felt like it was still majorly healing from my birth — the last thing I could think of was sex!" she wrote. "This made me so insecure and overwhelmed that I wasn't living up to the normal expectations of a postpartum wife — and that made me feel even less sexy."
Nine weeks after childbirth, Amurri Martino gave sex a shot. The result, she wrote in all-caps, was "TERRIBLE." For her, "having sex for the first time after birthing a baby feels like having sex for the first time ever. It's awkward, emotional, and extremely painful."
When friends told her a year may have to pass before her sex life returned to what she'd known as normal, she was overwhelmed and stopped trying to make it better. That was a "major mistake," she wrote. "I can look back now and realize that the number one thing that would have helped us as a couple transition faster and more easily into our life post-baby was to focus much more on us."
As it turns out, at the 12- to 13-month mark, "we were completely back to our old (great) ways."
Her tips to new mothers who want to revive their sex lives include taking a bubble bath with a glass of wine, scheduling a week for daily intercourse in an effort to make it less of a high-pressure "special event," and channeling sensuality until it happens organically.
"Allow yourself the power and confidence of somebody who has done something truly remarkable and luxuriate in that feeling," she concluded. "The rest is details."
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