Everyone gets their groove back after a baby, in their OWN way. No two humans are alike. Sure, we have some shared experiences, but when it comes to intimacy mama, you’re as unique as your fingerprint. That’s why improving intimacy after baby takes time and effort.
I love you, but no thank you.
For me, I am one of those people who craves physical affection. I feel loved when I am hugged, cuddled, or embraced. It is also one of my love languages. During pregnancy, I was more than happy to hop in the sack. Yet, once I gave birth, things shifted. I felt so emotionally and physically spent giving to our little bundle of joy, that when it came to fooling around, the thought of being touched and giving more, even to my spouse whom I love dearly, felt about as appealing as a pile of laundry waiting to be folded.
The new roommate.
Of course, babies change any relationship. Imagine that you are happily living with your significant other when you agree to take on a third roommate. This person moves in one day and suddenly you’re BOTH responsible for this roommate. Emotionally, physically, financially, and in so many other capacities. Forced to adjust as a couple, the stress of caring for this new roommate 24/7 is a tremendous chore. How can the intimacy of your relationship continue to blossom in the same way that it had before this new little human entered the picture?
But that doesn’t meant your sex life is doomed. It just means a whole lot of adjusted expectations and good, old fashioned, communication are in order.
Intimacy Barrier #1: You’re Just Plumb Tired
Well, this should come as no surprise, but one of the most common reasons couples naturally refrain from sex after a baby is simply because one or both of the partners are too exhausted to perform. Raising a newborn is an incredibly involving job and if the mother is breastfeeding or pumping, the baby workload is intensified. That, combined with the utter lack of sleep, intimacy is easily trumped by the temptation to doze.
Good news sleep-deprived parents! Even in it’s smallest amount, studies have shown that sex can actually help you sleep better. So if it’s a good snooze that’s getting in the way, try and muster up a morsel of energy to get saucy and that small window of sleep could be that much deeper.
Intimacy Barrier #2: You’re Terrified of Adding Another Roommate to the Mix
I quickly discovered that in addition to being tired, uncomfortable, and hormonally unbalanced, a lot of my own hesitation to get frisky was caused by anxiety about getting pregnant again before I was ready to. And new dads may be feeling the worry too. But stress doesn’t have to stop you from sex.
Cue in modern technology, science, and contraception. Whether it be an app, Natural Family Planning, or avenues that to explore with your doctor, worrying about having another baby, before you’re ready, doesn’t have to prevent you from being intimate with your partner.
Intimacy Barrier #3: You’re in Pain
Okay mamas, this one hits home for me. I labored and had a c-section for each baby so pain was a HUGE barrier for us. But my biggest foe wasn’t the pain itself, it was the lack of knowledge about my own postpartum body. There are many reasons for experiencing pain during sex after having a baby, but most of them can be worked through! Talk with your OBGYN to explore options about pelvic floor physical therapy or even mindfulness exercises to help ease sexual discomfort. Having sex after having a baby can be enjoyable again, you just need some support.
Intimacy Barrier #4: Suddenly, Your Significant Other Isn’t So Sexy
Two-thirds of parents report feeling less satisfied with their marriage after having a child together. Clearly, this is a very common hang-up in the intimacy department. Sometimes these differences can’t be worked out, but more often than not, they can. For many, it boils down to spending more moments rediscovering each other in conversation, rather than sex. As a mental health therapist, I often encouraged my clients with relationship dissatisfaction to make a list of all the attributes about their partner that they initially fell in love with. The simple task would often reawaken perspectives about their partner that had been lost over the years.
Another simple challenge is to carve out a date night (absolutely no kids!) and try court their partner, as they would a new hookup. With the right attitude, this kind of exercise can be great emotional foreplay for the intimate bedroom time later.
At the end of the day, the biggest way to improve intimacy after a baby is by allowing yourself the opportunity to truly open up and communicate your needs and wants to your partner. Hopefully, he or she will do the same and you can begin to rekindle the romance- at a pace that works for you! Several of us Seacoast Moms also previously partnered with Alicia Joy Stiles, a sexuality and relationship coach, to explore some of these tough aspects of intimacy after baby! Make sure you check out these posts.