Your entire life changes when you have a baby. Money, sleep, and energy are all in short supply. The dramatic change also has a significant effect on your relationship. Given a typical and healthy delivery, many doctors and midwives recommend that you abstain from sexual intercourse for six weeks after having a baby. While six weeks is the time that your body needs, it may not be the time that your mind and emotions need. While childbirth is miraculous and wonderful it is also intense and traumatic for our minds and bodies. In our modern society where we fancy ourselves to be civilized people, I don’t think that there is anything as primal and ancient as childbirth. There’s nothing fancy about it. That doesn’t mean that you cannot restart your sex life following the birth of a child. Here are my tips for re-energizing your sex and intimate life:
Give yourself time. Be okay with taking more than six weeks to start having sex again. It may be several more weeks or months before you feel the desire to have sex or even begin to think about sex. That is okay!
Communicate with your partner. This is the most important and least done tip. You must communicate your needs, concerns, and fears with your partner. If you are scared that sex is going to hurt, tell them. If you worry that they won’t find you sexy, say it. And if you don’t have a libido and have no sexual desire, you need to say that as well. Talking about sex, before having sex, is crucial to having a great sex life after having a baby (actually it’s crucial to a great sex life period!). You will feel less tension and anxiety in your body when you release your concerns to the person you’re trying to have sex with. It’s hard to have sex when you’re tense.
Many times women tell me that they don’t want to talk to their partners about sex because they do not have the desire for sex and they worry that talking about it will make him advance even more. Here’s the reality: If you don’t want sex, he knows. He can tell that you’ve been avoiding him, coming to bed late, or barely touching him. He already knows. Talking to him about it will let him know why you don’t want sex rather than him assuming that you don’t want or need him at all.
Changing hormones, breast feeding, and having a human being pass through your vagina are some common reasons that women don’t want to have sex. A final point on communication, talking to your partner helps to reinforce your partnership. You are new parents and need to adjust to that change. As your own identity shifts to include parent it can be too easy to forget your other role and identity as a partner. Talking about your relationship and emotions and needs reinforces that partnership and connection. It reminds both of you that you are in this together and need to work together to change it.
It’s not all about sex! Be sensual and sexual without putting the focus on sexual intercourse. Think about when you were first together and the sexual and sensual acts that you did before intercourse was part of the picture. The hand holding, kissing, caressing, and snuggling. Dial it back to a PG and PG-13 level and have fun exploring your bodies at this new phase in your relationship.
Sex will be different. It will be different than before the baby and it will be different in another 3 years. Sex, like us and our relationship, changes. There may be new things that you like or want to try and old things that are no longer exciting or appealing. For many women who breastfeed their breasts are off limits as sexual objects for their partners. It can be confusing to feed and bond and connect with your baby through breastfeeding one minute and then have them be objects of sexual desire for your partner the next minute. After talking to your partner you can decide what to do. Perhaps you keep your breasts covered or ask that they aren’t touched. This is something that the two of you can determine together. And remember, many of these changes are temporary not permanent!
Many men feel displaced after the baby arrives. Everything seems to be about the mother and child and it can be hard for them to figure out where they belong. Save or create some specialness just for him. Find time or words that are just for him, not about the baby, just him. New mothers are so focused on their baby and learning about them and meeting their needs that it can reinforce the displacement of their partner. Creating intimacy with your partner means having time and energy and space just for them.
Finally, make an effort to be sexual with your partner. You are tired, your body is changing, and you may have low or no sexual desire. Sexual intimacy is an important part of relationships. Prior to baby sex may have occurred regularly without thought or attention. But after baby sex and sexual intimacy may require more focus and attention. It needs to be a priority and something that you make time for and put your energy towards.