“When will we have a sex life again after the baby is born? And will it be any good?”
I hear this a lot from expecting parents, both with the couples I work with and in Facebook groups online. I’d venture to guess there are plenty more that are wondering the same things, but haven’t been brave enough to ask. Every new or expecting parent wants to know what’s normal.
The answer is there is no normal per se.
Typically, your OBGYN will clear you for intercourse somewhere around the 6-weeks postpartum mark (though you might not get the green light until weeks later if you had significant tearing or a c-section delivery). But, just because you’ve been given the nod doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll want to do it yet.
Some moms do not want to have sex for a while after baby arrives - low sex drive is normal. This could be for many different reasons: Some moms feel physically uncomfortable or even emotionally uncomfortable with their bodies. Some moms feel guilt for taking their attention away from the baby. Some may even feel fearful due to their birth experience, if they experienced any trauma with it. Often, many moms just feel "all touched out" because they have been feeding and holding a baby all day--they’re exhausted and just want to be left alone.
It’s important to keep in mind that a woman’s hormones take a while to adjust postpartum. So, even if you are mentally ready, you might feel like your body isn’t quite “in the game”. It’s OK. It will come back around.
In our workshop “Mine, Yours, Ours, Relationship Survival Guide to Baby's 1st Year”, we talk about how important it is for both parents to first acknowledge things have changed...because they have.
It sounds simple and maybe even ridiculous to say, but talking about how things are different and hearing how your partner is experiencing things can take the pressure off. And then, this opens the door to talk about what you need, what's different, what your fears are.
It is also important to make sure you ask your partner for sex.
Don't assume that at the 6-week appointment when the doctor gives the all clear that momma's gonna be ready to jump right back in. But, also...don't assume that she's not. Asking for it is the best way to reduce misunderstanding.
Here’s one classic scenario I’ve heard many times: The father or partner is waiting for mom to bring it up because they don’t want her to feel pressured. And then mom doesn’t bring it up because she doesn’t quite feel like herself (maybe she is self-conscious about her body’s appearance or she just physically doesn’t feel the same--either way, she’s adjusting to her postpartum body). Then mom feels rejected by her partner because he/she doesn’t express interest. And the partner feels confused, in limbo, or possibly even rejection as well.
The best thing you can do is always to simply clear the air. Have the conversation. Figure out where you both are at.
This understanding is the most important thing--and the first step to reclaiming your sex life.
If you’re not quite ready for sex after baby yet, stay tuned for next week’s blog--I’ll be sharing tips for ways you can build intimacy even when you’re exhausted and “all touched out.”
And, if you feel like you need some more support in this area, I encourage you to reach out to me or a therapist in your area.