It’s at that very moment when two becomes three, that the marriage you once knew, shifts into a brand-new and unfamiliar gear. And here’s your official sneak peek into how, why and what you can do when it comes to having sex after having a baby.
You’ve had 9 months to grow, nurture and protect your new born baby. You have listened, watched and read all that there is to read on ‘what to expect when expecting’. You’ve purchased endless amounts of baby clothes; researched the best parenting methods and officially established yourself as a new mother.
You’ve no doubt watched and taken careful note of how your body has adapted to pregnant life. Said goodbye to your once upon a time easily accessible vagina, waved so long to those 6 inch heels and held onto the distance memory of what your body once looked and felt like….
Doesn’t it amaze you how much effort goes into planning for a baby, but how little goes into life afterwards?
Prepared or not, it’s time for you to go from wife, to parent, from lover to mother… Are you ready?
It’s around the time that the yummy oxytocin starts to fade away and you stop receiving the cards, flowers and visitors… You’re now officially left to fend for yourselves as a family. In case you didn’t already know, you are taking full responsibility for another human being! Scary AF right?
Perhaps, you’re feeling a tad overwhelmed, maybe you’re experiencing a ‘never-felt-like-this-before’ kind of love, or very possibly you’re struggling to bond with this bundle of joy and are feeling a little disconnected…
But I will let you in on a little secret.
One way or another you will succeed, even when you’re sure you’re failing. As that’s ultimately what this parenting gig comes down too; just a daily battle of trying your best and wondering “am I good enough?”
If the reality of parenthood wasn’t quite daunting enough, you must now master the tools to maintain a healthy marriage as you transition from one chapter to another. Welcome to the definition of multitasking!
With marriage comes challenges. But with each new challenge, your relationship will become stronger and ultimately allow you to move forward together, as a cohesive family unit.
No two marriages are the same but with studies showing that sex and money are the biggest factors for divorce, it’s important we acknowledge that parenthood can easily be the trigger, if not confronted head on.
So, let’s talk about the why – Why does your once familiar sex life take a huge turn into the unknown and unexpected?
#1 You Simply Don’t Have The Time Or Energy
I’m guessing that with all those endless shitty nappies and inconvenient projectile vomits, you’ve now got a brand-new set of priorities. Your likely to be surprised by how one tiny human can produce more laundry than you ever thought possible and god forbid you finally understand the true meaning of colic…
Those lazy days, deserved lie ins and a full night’s sleep are all distant memories. Sleep deprivation is now your new normal and the reality of parenthood is officially sinking in.
With sleep deprivation comes fatigue, irritability, and difficulties concentrating…. What a way to get in the mood!
And let’s not forget the problems associated with reading, speaking clearly, poor judgment, and a considerable increase in appetite…
It’s no wonder they use sleep deprivation as a form of torture! You my friend, are being put through the wringer.
So, it’s fair to assume that at this point your probably asking yourself ‘will I even stay awake long enough want sex again?’
You’re not alone in this feeling Mumma but it is time for you to take a step back and really check in with yourself. How is the lack of sleep directly impacting your relationship and what can be done?
I won’t sugar-coat this for you, because let’s be honest, there is no ‘overnight’ cue or best kept secret you don’t know about. Your once fresh face rested self is a thing of the past (at least for now) … But, there are a few steps you can take that will have a positive impact.
Introduce a consistent bedtime ritual for baby, yourself and partner.
For babies, sleeping through the night doesn’t exactly mean the 12 hour lie in you once enjoyed. In fact, according to studies, ‘sleeping through’ may be just five hours in a row. This is because infants have shorter sleep cycles, smaller tummies and spend more time in active sleep than adults do.
Its important to remember, that these little monsters don’t come out of the womb knowing when night time commences, and morning begins. Implementing a bedtime ritual will eventually help calm baby and in turn prepare them for a more successful sleep. YIPEE!
So, have a think about what ritual works best for you and your family…and be consistent.
One of my personal favourites would be introducing baby massage as a calming technique. Not only will your baby love this, but it’s a beautifully relaxing actively you could also benefit from.
Any form of touch, connection or intimacy will help give you the tools to rest and relax when you should be too.
Some parents enjoy a nightly shower with their baby or take the time to run a daily bath. If this suits your schedule, then it’s a fantastic way to introduce that bedtime ritual for the whole family.
Have you tried introducing essential oils? You can thank me later.
And for all you busy house-proud mamma’s; it may be a simple case of learning when to walk away from those dirty dishes! Could you be using that time to run yourself a bath? Or perhaps cosy up and watch a film together? Did you once love to meditate? It doesn’t matter how else you use that time, as long as you use it for YOU.
Trust me when I say… the dishes will be there in the morning!
Are you co-sleeping with baby? If yes, how is this impacting your quality of sleep? What steps are you taking to ensure your bedroom, and/or your bed is still a space for intimacy between yourself and husband?
Think outside the box… Contemplate changing the sheets together as an act of foreplay…
So, what activity can you implement today that will inspire more rest and in turn additional energy?
Still unsure as to why you should be introducing a sleep ritual? Let me break it down for you.
- A sleep ritual will encourage better sleep patterns for the whole family.
- Steady Sleep patterns will in turn promote a higher chance of baby sleeping through.
- If baby starts to sleep through, you will have a bigger opportunity for rest, relaxation and SLEEP. More sleep means more energy!
Considering a recent study showed that a whooping 33% of woman aren’t having sex as they are literally too tired; I think its time you got more sleep!
Please know, irrespective of how many precautions and actions you put into place, you are still jumping into an enormous transition. Feeling a frightening sense of exhaustion is all part of the ‘new mum fun’, but this is why its essential we do what we can to recharge where possible and reach out to our partner when we need it the most.
#2 Your Libido Has Officially Gone Into Hiding
Let me start by saying YOU ARE NOT ALONE. You could check under the kitchen sink, inside the cupboards and under the bed, but sometimes you just can’t seem to find that damn libido! Where did it go? Why did it disappear and how the hell do you get it back…?
Isn’t it fascinating that women will openly discuss endless topics referring to personal choices you make for your family. Are you choosing to vaccinate your child? Why are you not breastfeeding your baby? How are you co sleeping and not using a cot?
Pretty personal matters, right?
Yet when it comes to talking about sex, how frequently we’re having it and what’s really going on with our bodies and brains; women are choosing to keep quiet and suffer in silence.
It’s crucial that during this shift in libido, you gain the tools to confide in your partner, communicate honestly and work as a team. A problem shared really is a problem halved.
So, what’s going on with you?
Both the emotional and physically changes will differ from woman to woman, therefore throughout this chapter it is crucial you listen to your body, recognise what it needs and reach out if you need more support.
However, after birth the chemical changes do tend to follow a similar pattern in most woman.
For the first few months your body is a cauldron of rapidly shifting hormones!
If your breastfeeding, please understand the levels of estrogen will remains low. Unfortunately, these low levels of estrogen in some women will lower their sexual desire AND vaginal dryness can be the biggest side effect.
And another pretty crappy side effect: you may find yourself having a less sensitive clitoris too.
Testosterone (the official libido boosting hormone) may also drop while prolactin (milk-supply hormone) rises.
Ergh! It feels like the odds are basically stacked against you!
And on top of this, Dr. Wider, who wrote “The New Mum’s Survival Guide”, explains that “New mums also get a surge of oxytocin, the hormone that gives you the warm fuzzies when cuddling your baby. This bonding hormone can make you think, I’m in love with my baby. Who is this big muscle-y guy trying to get in on the action?”
Hormones can be especially challenging due to their lack of visibility (bearing in mind men definitely aren’t mind readers!) so OPEN communication and having a mutual understanding of one another’s needs is vital to maintaining a healthy relationship.
Rather than giving your partner the opportunity to start questioning why you’re not attracted to him anymore and having him worry about what he’s doing wrong, use your positive language to explain ‘this is what’s going on with my body and this is what I need from you’.
Eliminate the doubt to prevent unnecessary tension.
Recognise that this feeling won’t last forever… Maybe you’ll catch a glimpse of hubby being a awesome dad or perhaps baby slept through for the first-time last night… whatever finally gives you that warm fuzzy sensation; be patient with your body, hold space for this feeling and have fun with it… oh, and a little water-based lubricant goes a long way!
#3 Love And Understand Your Post Baby Body
As we already know, sex with our partner is just as much an emotional connection as it is a physical one. The problem is, sometimes our post baby body & physical changes start to get in the way of even the idea of sex!
Let me be real. You need to expect changes in your body. Some just temporary and others maybe not. Some noticeably different and others a little more subtle…
Your breasts may be bigger, heavier and fuller than life itself. Your swollen uterus is leaving you with a rather large and squishy tummy. Your nipples are leaking at quite possibly the worst times ever and your vaginal muscles are quite frankly still stretched out!
With all the changes that spring to mind, it’s no surprise that 25% of women aren’t having sex due to low body confidence.
Of these women surveyed, a whopping 66% felt more confident in the bedroom after losing weight, 47% favoured having sex with the lights off, 36% preferred dim lighting and only 16% felt confident having sex with the lights on.
Isn’t it interesting how these numbers are deeply worrying but not at all surprising…?
Let me ask you something – Since giving birth, how forgiving have you been on yourself and your body? Are you practising patience or just body shaming in the mirror?
Why is it so much easier to view ourselves through the negative lens and near to impossible to accept who we are and how we look?
Just as your body nurtured your baby its time you learn to nurture yourself. Accepting your body and embracing the changes starts with YOU.
Your C-section scar represents your birthing story, your widened hips characterize your being as a woman, your bigger tummy signifies the wonderful ability we have to carry our children and your changing breasts are a daily reminder of the gift you get to give… Be PROUD of what your body has accomplished!
According to Dr Deborah Bateson, Clinical Associate Professor and Medical Director at Family Planning NSW, doctors generally recommend their patients wait “between four and six weeks to resume penetrative sex, but that’s with lots of considerations, and depends on what kind of delivery the mother had…
That being said, your body has gone through an Olympic marathon, so please be patient with that ‘time line’ I know is niggling in the back of your head. 6 isn’t always the magic number….
Use any changes you’re experiencing as an opportunity to become closer with your partner. As we expose our vulnerabilities, intimacy increases. Allow your partner to explore your body for the first time again, taking the time to honour your perhaps curvier physique and/or story telling scars. Remember, you’re writing this chapter together…
And again, you must practise HONEST communication – Tell your partner what your experiencing, particularly if it isn’t something you are yet comfortable with. Perhaps with a little encouragement, he or she can assist you with learning to love it?
Or possibly you need your partner to avoid touching your scar for now? Perhaps the idea of your nipples leaking is beyond your comfort zone? Maybe you would prefer to try different positions that feel more comfortable and less exposed?
Your honest communication should have a mirroring effect, which allows your partner to be honest with you too. Because the likelihood is, he or she in love with every inch of your feminine, sensuous, beautiful body and you don’t even know it!
So, it’s time to own your imperfections you beautiful birthing goddess…
#4 Your Marriage And Sex Life Has Never Been Better
I know, you can’t believe your eyes right? But believe me, it’s true!
Before putting pen to paper (or should I say fingers to keyboard) I questioned 4 of my closet friends about both their marriage and sex life after having their children.
Between the stories of unhealed stitches, projectile diarrhea and actual naps standing up, I was honestly astonished by the one common theme that came up time and time again….
After finding their feet and pushing through those inevitable hurdles, they ALL expressed that without doubt: Sex was better now than ever before!
They all spoke of a brand new deeper connection and stronger intimacy…
It turns out that the first time you have sex after giving birth can actually bring on the same anxious, excited emotion as it did the first time you ever had sex together! After a long 6ish weeks or more, most couples will start to feel eager to reconnect and thrilled to finally get ‘back on the horse!’
After all, some couples may have had to avoid sex during parts of their pregnancy, so you can only imagine how happy they are to finally put sex back on the table!
Bringing a life into the world and knowing that as a couple you created this little being, well… That’s without question more powerful than any chapter you’ll experience together.
And let’s be honest, neither one of you has as much spare time or energy as you once did, so sometimes just the idea of a quickie while baby goes down is all you need to get the excitement flowing!
It’s not surprising that after giving your partner the greatest gift of all, you’re both connecting on a deeper more explosive level….
Parenting is hard and juggling your marriage is even harder BUT working through it together and pushing though each trial will only make your relationship stronger.
When parenting is a collective effort, communication is open, and your team work is unbreakable: Well that right there is my idea of foreplay!
To sum it up Mumma: Challenges are ahead, perhaps your biggest test yet. But as Kyle Benson from the Gottman Institute says – “Couples that talk about sex have better sex”. So, get talking! I believe this rule applies to everything in a marriage!
And yes you are parents now, but you’re still you too. Enjoy exploring the perfect balance that suits all THREE of you.
What did you do to find the balance?