How soon can I have sex after having my baby? More importantly, how and when will I feel sexy again?
These are the magic questions without magical answers. Doctors, nurses and doulas don’t often tell new parents this, but study after study shows that relationship/marital satisfaction tends to decrease once a couple has a baby. Sucks, doesn’t it? And it seems so contrary to what nature should make happen! Babies should cement a relationship and make us happier. But parenthood is more complicated than that—and having a baby is no aphrodisiac. But that doesn’t mean your love life is over. Here’s how to cope with the changes.
1. Forget the six weeks. So your doctor said you could have sex in six weeks? Yeah, right. That’s just when it’s safer for your body to have sex, not necessarily when it’s comfortable, or when you’ve gotten enough sleep to feel up to it. Take your time. Make out, cuddle, satisfy each other’s “skin hunger”—the need to touch and feel close.
2. Be patient. Some couples find that sex isn’t even close to normal for six months. For others, it can take a year. Check out Love in the Time of Colic: The New Parents’ Guide to Getting it On Again (Harper, $17) and Sexy Mamas: Keeping Your Sex Life Alive While Raising Kids (New World Library, $17) for tips on sex in the months and years after having a baby. Everything from dealing with baby monitors to scheduling dates to dating for single parents is in these wise books.
3. Speak up. Although it can take months for a woman’s body to return to normal, she should voice concerns to her health-care provider if she’s struggling with things that challenge her quality of life. For example, while some women notice an urge to pee, incontinence is not a necessity. Get a second opinion if needed. Treatment can make all the difference.
4. Keep a towel and lube nearby. When they do start having sex again, some women notice a loss of sensation. If this happens, use a nearby towel to dab each other down there to reduce wetness and enhance sensation. For vaginal dryness (more common when breast feeding), a water-based or silicone-based lubricant like Good Clean Love can be helpful.
5. Stake out adult space. Babies have a way of taking over everything. Hire a sitter. Trade baby-sitting services with a friend. Steal some intimate time in the pantry or shower while the baby is sleeping. Or let your baby in your bed but keep the guest-room bed (or the air mattress you keep in storage) off limits. Try to find some space that’s just yours.
6. Open your mind. Although some couples find that sex is more difficult than before they had a baby, the vast majority of couples find that it (eventually) returns to normal. Some even find that, for reasons we don’t understand, pregnancy and/or childbirth change women’s bodies and make post-baby sex more fulfilling in some ways. As you work to keep sex fun and new—whenever you can fit it in (and I’d encourage you to try)—consider starting with a clean slate, trying things you’d previously crossed off the list. You never know what might be more fun than you ever realized before.
Debby writes the weekly In & Out column for Time Out Chicago.