One of the vulnerable times in the sexual life of a couple is following the birth of your baby. If you had a good sex life before and during the pregnancy, it is important to be intentional about keeping a positive sex life after the birth of your child.
4 Things You Need to Know about Sex after Baby
1. It is important to have open, honest and positive communication about your sexual relationship. If you cannot talk to one another easily about your sexual relationship, then resentments, hurt, frustration, and hostility can build quickly. Now is the time to be benevolent with your partner. Assume that he/she would like to have a good sex life.
Because new parenthood takes so much time and energy, it is easy for sex to get set aside for awhile. Thus, talking about sex and affirming your desire for your partner can be very helpful, even if sex is not the result.
2. It can be very easy for you to feel replaced by the child in your partner's priorities. Before pregnancy, especially the first one, your emotional intimacy was most likely limited to just the two of you. As soon as the pregnancy occurs, there are three people and it is easy to feel replaced by the forthcoming child. While excitement about the pregnancy is helpful, you may feel that your partner does not desire you. This sense of replacement may even be stronger after the birth. These feelings can even be unconscious, but if either of you becomes moodier, it is important to address the reasons. (Postpartum depression is a separate issue which needs to be addressed with a professional.) One can begin to feel guilty for these feelings, because the child is wanted and loved. To feel important you may then compensate by becoming even more involved in your work or career. This can then compound the problem.
3. Be intentional about resuming your sex life together. Set time aside in your schedule, planning each experience to be romantic (even if it is a "quickie"), and affirm your sexual desire for each other. It will be very easy to put sex aside because of all the family and work commitments, but remember that your relationship is just as important. There are two sides of a relationship. One is maintenance (the tasks necessary for living) and the other is nurturance (building and keeping the relationship alive). When you first started dating and building a relationship, nurturance was probably 90 percent of your relationship and 10 percent went into maintenance. When you started living together, maintenance likely took a greater percentage of your time. When a child is born, maintenance can take 90+ percent of your time and 10 percent or less goes into nurturance. Over a period of time this can become disastrous to your relationship. Keep nurturance as important as maintenance and you will be building for a loving and sexually fulfilling future.
4. Sex needs to be more than sexual intercourse. Exhaustion and baby interruptions might interfere with the energy that it takes to have sex. This does not mean that sexual intercourse is not important, but often it seems that it is all there is to sex. The female, especially, may feel that she is not desired, but only her vagina is desired. You need to broaden your sexual repertoire. Giving a relaxing massage without any expectations can be very important to building sexual energy. Being romantic and thoughtful is often appreciated, especially if it is not based upon expectations or manipulation, but rather is truly for affectional reasons.
Sharing masturbation with your partner is truly an intimate experience. It helps to relieve sexual tension and if there is not resentment or hostility involved, can be a real turn-on, even to the tired partner. Accept the truism that it is both okay to want sexual intercourse and it is okay not to want sexual intercourse at any particular time. There is no right or wrong. True affection and sexual passion is not built on resentment, hostility, or distance, but rather on honesty, openness, caring, and trust.
Dr. Stayton is an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Human Sexuality Program at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education. He is on the faculty of the Pastoral Counseling Program at LaSalle University (Philadelphia) and in the private practice of relationship and sex therapy in Pennsylvania. He is currently President of the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists.