Resuming Intimacy After Having a Baby
The birth of a baby is an event to be celebrated, and yet it alters the relationship between spouses. The physical and emotional changes of both partners bring new challenges to the intimate relationship. Physical discomfort and a lack of desire can be a problem for one or both spouses yet both need the emotional closeness that sex provides. With patience and effort, you’ll find your way to a new normal where the physical and emotional needs are met.
If you didn’t before, you now know that the birth of a baby brings some changes you expected and others that you didn’t. A few of the changes you may have already experienced or should at least be aware of include:
You knew going in that having a baby would be exhausting, but you may not have realized how exhaustion would affect your libido. Instead of stealing moments for intimacy, you both may be craving a nap once the baby is asleep.
- Changing Roles:
You’re no longer just partners, you’re parents. The focus of your energy and thoughts changes when you’re in those roles. It can be hard to switch from mom or dad into sexual partner when you’ve been occupying a non-sexual role all day.
- Physical Discomfort:
The pain of childbirth may not disappear quickly. Women often experience fear and anxiety about the physical discomfort that may come from resuming penetrative sex. The husband, too, may be anxious about causing his partner pain. The problem can persist even if both partners want to resume having sex.
Despite the changes and challenges, many couples, nearly 60 percent according to a 2013 study, resume intimacy. The frequency and type of sex may be different due to changing physical circumstances but the close bonds it fosters aren’t. Rest assured that if your physical relationship is still on hold, it can and will return to a new normal as you and your partner work together.
Staying Close With or Without Sex
Most physicians give the okay for physical intimacy four to six weeks after childbirth. If you or your partner is feeling reluctant, take heart and remember to:
- Make Time for Cuddling:
Intimacy doesn’t have to mean sex. Cuddling, touching, and being physically close while talking can strengthen your connection to one another. You may find this kind of intimacy helpful if you’re feeling a little smothered by all the physical touch of a new baby.
- Talk About Expectations (and Concerns):
Regular talks between you and your partner about concerns and expectations can help avoid unnecessary hurt and misunderstandings. A husband may be concerned about a wife’s physical discomfort while a husband’s hesitation may be interpreted as a lack of physical attraction. Talking about your concerns and expectations can bring you closer together and help you brainstorm ways to overcome new challenges.
- Be Patient: It takes time to find a new normal. In the meantime, be open to new ways of expressing love and physical attraction. Listen to one another and be respectful of the other person’s experience.
When You’re Both Ready
The regular frequency with which you had sex may not resume for several months to a year after having a baby. For some couples, intimacy doesn’t become consistent until the baby is sleeping in a crib in her own room. Keep in mind that there’s no specific timetable, but what works for you and your partner. As you both grow accustomed to your new roles as parents, you’ll also adapt to your new intimate life. Though it may be different than before the baby, it can be equally fulfilling.
Stacey L. Nash is a Seattle area writer for Tuck.com whose insomnia led her to research all aspects of sleep. With a degree in communications from the University of Puget Sound, she helps put sleep into the forefront of the health and wellness conversation. When not researching and writing about sleep, she spends time with her husband and four children on their heavily-wooded, twelve-acre piece of heaven.