Keeping Love Alive After the Baby Is Born

When will your sex life get back to "normal"? Expectant parents hold on to the dream that soon after the birth of their child the couple's disrupted love life will settle back into its former pattern: The wife will regain her figure, be full of energy, lose her "preoccupation with pregnancy" and be the love partner she was in their pre-pregnancy days.

Not quite. Most new parents are unprepared for physical and emotional roller coaster of their postpartum life. Indeed, the period after the baby is born often takes a toll on the couple's bond. Their love relationship takes second place as they attempt to meet the demands of their newborn and make sense of their newly acquired role as parents. All this while she complains that she has no time to take a shower and they both struggle with the stress of minimum sleep, the frustration of not knowing how to quiet their crying baby and the disruption of their former -- seemingly organized -- life.

Understanding how the arrival of a baby can affect intimacy and lovemaking may take away some of the guilt and blame that inevitably surface during these first weeks. The days and weeks after childbirth are probably the most disorganized and despairing for most new parents. Overjoyed by the birth of their child on the one hand, and exhausted by the responsibilities on the other, they can find neither time nor energy for couple closeness, let alone lovemaking.

 

During the first few weeks the new mother also has to live with the discomfort of vaginal discharge. Many women feel uncomfortable making love until their vaginal bleeding ceases. They worry about infection, irritating the episiotomy scar or damaging vaginal tissue. Their enlarged breasts may be uncomfortable or become engorged, and their nipples may hurt from nursing.

Healthcare providers generally advise waiting about six weeks before resuming vaginal intercourse. Some couples feel secure starting sooner. Many new mothers may initially find making love uncomfortable. If she had an episiotomy, she will have pain from the healing scar and the swelling around it.

Starting Kegel exercises immediately after childbirth can decrease painful swelling and help tone the pelvic floor muscles. The added bonus: Doing Kegels regularly increases pleasurable sensations during lovemaking throughout a woman's lifetime.

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