Will we ever want to make love again?
Our guide to the surprising truths about sex after baby
At first both men and women can joke (and even feel that the experience of having a baby can put them off sex for life. She may fear that the changes in her body make her feel less attractive, and becoming a mum now makes her feel less sexy – never mind that the exhausting routine of bringing up a baby leaving her with little appetite for anything, let alone sex. And after being there at the birth he may fear the she’ll need lots of time to physically recover after the trauma of childbirth! The fact is that neither may feel they have any time for anything beyond being parents, at the beck and call of a dear but demanding little one. Sound familiar?
The truth is that whatever you think you’ll feel, wanting to have sex together again can creep up on you surprisingly quickly. Being the mum or dad of your beautiful baby can make you unexpectedly sexy in your partner’s eyes. You may look into the cute eyes and feel those tiny fingers grasping yours and be overwhelmed with feelings of love for your partner. So where to begin?
Neither of you may feel able to rise to the moment as you once did, so soon after the birth. She may feel sore, he may feel tired and both may be struggling to reconcile your new status. You’re a mum and dad – are you ‘supposed’ to have wild, passionate sex any more? While you wait to sort this out (Hint – yes, you are!) you might like to begin, as beginners, again.
Do a bit of oral. No, not that (although, yes, if you’d like). But talk to each other. Let yourselves be honest if, and reflect why, you’re not in the mood for the full thing at present. It isn’t your fault or a sign you’ve fallen out of love but a natural pause, to allow you both to recuperate.
Let your fingers do the talking. Agree that penetrative sex is off the menu for now. That will take away the pressure and let you relax. Instead, discover anew what each of you likes and will respond to, by touch and caress. Hug and snuggle together, simply for the comfort of it. Or use massage oil, or soap in the bath or shower, to soothe and enjoy yourselves, with no end goal other than to give each other enjoyment. You may find that favourite touches are now painful or do little for you and that other caresses suddenly light you up. Find the joy in giving each other pleasure without having full sex – you may that find sexual experiences you’ve never tried or felt might be quite boring can in fact be far more electrifying than you first thought.
Try different positions. When just lying together or when you do get back to penetration, experiment with new ways of getting it together. After birth she may find her breasts are sensitive and would prefer positions, such as doggy position, that do not put pressure there. Or that she has new confidence in wanting to be on top to guide your shared movements to bring her pleasure.
Keep talking because although there are no surveys to prove that lack of sex is the cause, more marriages break up within the first 18 months after childbirth than at any other time. Often woman admit to feeling that intimacy will always lead to sex, so they withdraw affection entirely. So, set yourself short achievable goals rather than focus on rushing to straight sex – if he hasn’t had it for several months he’s bound to come quickly and that can leave you unsatisfied and him feeling like a failure.
So, don’t turn the tap off, keep communicating, set short achievable goals and try courting each other again – only instead of hot dates you’ll be wooing you other half with the little things you do for each other that say, “I love you”.
Bounty “Sex & Relationship” articles are written by expert Suzie Hayman. Suzie is agony aunt for Woman magazine, a Relate trained counsellor, and an accredited TripleP (Positive Parenting Programme) parenting educator. She makes frequent appearances on TV and radio and as well as writing 31 books, Suzie writes features on parenting, relationships, sex and couples counselling, for a wide range of national magazines and newspapers