Advice for men and women on how to lovingly approach renewing a healthy and passionate sex life after you have a baby
Congratulations on the new baby. It’s a magical time for you and your partner when you have your first child. Bringing baby home is fraught with worry and sleeplessness, but there’s also a sense of wonder, pride and accomplishment. You’re getting to know your little human, and this honeymoon time with baby can be so filled with love. Then the novelty wears off a little, and in time you get used to your new normal.
You and your partner have to learn how to live with another person literally between you, and figure out how to navigate your love life now that you are parents. After you get baby home and settled, you’re going to be thinking of getting physical with your partner again. You’re looking forward to getting back to your sexual relationship, which has probably been on hold since the final weeks of the pregnancy. Sex after baby can be a delicate situation that needs to be handled thoughtfully by both partners.
I’ve got some advice for both men and women on approaching this new physical relationship between you.
Dads, you have a huge shift in perspective that you need to make, and you have to let go of your partner and be prepared to share her with the baby. Guys can have some real struggles when it comes to adjusting to having a new baby in their lives. As a dad, you can feel left out. You can help out with the baby, but you can’t feed it. Mom and baby spend a lot of time cuddling without you. While you know it’s only natural, you may feel a little jealous. It’s not uncommon. Your partner’s time is going to be largely devoted to this new little person, so where does that leave you? You have more demands and pressure, and are getting far less attention from your wife.
If you assisted in the birth of your child, you may still have some visuals that are not exactly sexy. You may have a fear of hurting your partner when you have intercourse again, and you may be worried about whether or not you’re going to be attracted to her post-baby body.
These are all normal feelings, and if you think them through, you’ll see that your partner is still the woman that you are so deeply and passionately in love with. You started a family with her, and you love her all the more for what she endured through her pregnancy and the delivery of the child. She now has a new dimension to her and once you adjust to that idea, you will be able to renew your passionate love affair with even more intensity.
Body issues after baby
Your partner may feel like a bloated cow, but to you she’s never been sexier. Rounder and softer, her whole shape is more womanly and enticing. Let’s face it, moms are sexy! She may not be used to her post-baby body; she may feel fat and unattractive. There’s so much focus on being thin in our society. You know she’s just done the most amazing thing you’ve ever seen her do in birthing your child. Her body is a wonder to you. She may need a lot of extra reassurance that you still find her attractive and that your feelings towards her have only changed for the better. You’ve always been attracted to her breasts, but their new larger shape is exciting. You can’t wait for your chance to claim them back from the baby, who, if she’s breastfeeding, has been monopolizing them so much lately.
Your partner is burning the candle at both ends right now, her body is still recovering from the birth process, and she’s trying to keep it all together. Having a newborn is exhausting. She needs to sleep when the baby sleeps especially if she’s nursing, so you need to give her quiet time to rest and heal. Chances are she doesn’t get much time to herself.
Timing of sex is crucial. When she lets you know she’s feeling good and feeling ready to have sex, keep your cool and don’t suggest you do it now, no matter how much you want to. Maybe plan a date in a couple days. You have to plan to be spontaneous so that your partner can feel good. Make sure you let her have time to herself, let her have a nap, take a shower, take some time to get ready for your “first time”.
Once your partner has been released by the doctor to have intercourse again, check with her to see how her body is feeling. If she had a particularly difficult birth, she may still have some soreness or bruising. You want to be sensitive to that, and while you can still make love and connect physically, perhaps you don’t have intercourse right away. You should not put any pressure on your partner to do anything that might cause her discomfort. It may ruin the long-awaited renewal of your physical relationship. The point is to reconnect in a special way with all the passion that you’ve been keeping on hold while your partner was pregnant.
Your partner’s complete identity has changed with the birth of your child. She is not only a wife now, she’s a mother and that’s been all consuming, give her some time leading up to the first time having sex, make it like it is the first time. Let her know how much you’ve missed her and you want to be with her. Take a few days to plan and give her a chance to think about feeling sexual again. She’s feeling like a feeding machine right about now and needs to have a shift in her mindset from mom to wife and partner again.
Moms do it all!
Ladies, your sex life with your partner probably won’t be like you remember. Treat it as if it’s a new thing. I want to caution you mom’s not to have any expectations that you’re going to just pick up where you left off. Nothing will be the same about your relationship. Your body is different and you have had a break in your physical relationship. Try to approach your first time with your man as a special new beginning for you both. He’s going to need lots of reassurances that you still find him sexy, that you love him and that, even though you now have the new baby, you’ve been thinking about having this time with him and missing the physical connection between the two of you.
You’ve been spread thin, overtired and worried. Give yourself a break from expectations and prepare to have fun. Make sure the environment and atmosphere for your date is nice for the both of you. If you’re co-sleeping in the bedroom amongst the diapers, piles of laundry and baby camping gear, let’s face it, that’s not exactly conducive to a romantic interlude.
Give yourself permission to feel sexy
You may also feel like you need to do something special. Give yourself a bubble bath and some pampering. Do what you need to do to make yourself feel pretty, and show up ready to connect with your partner. This is all about you feeling like a sexual person, not only a mom. When the time comes, take it slow and enjoy yourselves. Do lots of touching and foreplay, renew that all important connection. Avoid the temptation to rush in case the baby wakes up. Don’t be impatient, take your time. If baby wakes up; and odds are it will; don’t get upset. Just stop what you’re doing and take care of Junior. You and your partner can pick it up again later. It’s like having foreplay all day long.
Do you want another child? Think about what you’re going to use for birth control. It’s a myth that you can’t get pregnant when you’re nursing, so take precautions if you don’t want another baby right away.
Above all, enjoy rekindling the fire and passion with your partner. If you can make that shift in your mind to being a sexual partner again, then you can fully enjoy the physical and emotional connection with your partner. You may worry about your looks, your body and how your partner will see you now that he’s seen you pregnant and deliver your child. Trust me, if you show up naked and ready to engage with him, you don’t need to worry about that at all. It is up to you when and how it happens, and when it does you both can make it a special time that you’ll want to repeat often.
Stuart Fensterheim, LCSW helps couples to overcome the disconnection in their relationships As an author, blogger and podcaster, Stuart has helped couples around the world to experience a unique relationship in which they can feel special and important, confident in knowing they are loved deeply and that their presence matters.