Keeping sexually connected after you have a baby can be hard. You’re trying to keep a brand new human alive and adjusting to new routines all on little to no sleep. Bringing a new baby into the family is such an emotional time – there are the highs of having this awesome little person you made, but then there are the lows of dealing with a screaming baby, new roles in your relationship, and the emotional rush of becoming a parent. Add in the aftereffects of childbirth, and it’s no wonder that sex is often not at the top of the priority list. However, it may be stressful for you and your partner to be distant sexually, especially if that’s not what was normal for you before your baby came along. Sexual intimacy helps us bond with our partners, and it can also be a great way to feel good in a short amount of time. If you’re concerned that your sex life is in a slump after having a baby, remember that it’s normal to experience this. Luckily, there are ways to increase your levels of intimacy after having a baby so you can enjoy the sex you want to have.
Here are 4 things that will help the sex after baby slump:
1. Tend to sleep deprivation
If you are not among the lucky few who are blessed with babies that actually sleep at night, sleep deprivation is going to be an issue for a while. As any new parent can probably tell you, there’s a reason why sleep deprivation is used as a torture method. In addition to being debilitating in other ways, sleep deprivation can deliver a serious blow to a couple’s sex after baby.
It is pretty difficult to feel sexy or desire sex when you are sleep-deprived. If one or both partners are fighting sleep deprivation, make sure you’re addressing this. Trade-off nighttime feedings. Have a grandparent help or hire a night nanny for a few nights. Find ways to give each other naps. Take the baby away from the home so the napping parent can really catch up on needed rest. Chances are, you’re much more likely to find the time to have sex if you aren’t walking around sleep-deprived or falling asleep at 8:00 PM every night.
2. Don’t make the mistake of seeing sex as just intercourse
It’s not. A satisfying sex life consists of all *five pillars of intimacy: Affection, sensuality, playfulness, eroticism & finally, intercourse.
You are much more likely to find the time to be sexually intimate if you make an effort to keep up affectionate touch (non-sexual), sensual touch (cuddling, longer kisses, soothing touch), playful touch (sexual flirting, genital and non-genital touch), erotic touch (sexually stimulating touch), along with intercourse.
It is also important that each type of intimacy be valued and not treated always as stepping stones on the way to intercourse. Intercourse is not the only way to experience sexual intimacy with a partner, and in fact, it shouldn’t be. Connecting through all kinds of touch and affection can go a long way to improving sex after baby.
*Reference: The Five Dimensions of Touch: The Key to Bypassing Sexual Power Struggles by Barry McCarthy, Ph.D.
3. Make sure you’re talking about the emotions you both are feeling
Sometimes, you may not be finding the time to have sex after baby because you’re actually feeling some feelings that need attention first from your spouse or partner.
There are so many normal feelings for new parents: exhaustion; feeling cranky; missing each other; feeling overwhelmed; worries about the baby; body image concerns; feelings about returning to work or staying home; worries about finances; stress from hosting visitors or increased family interactions; etc.
Parenting a child for the first time is also a very vulnerable experience for many people. You might find yourself wanting and needing more reassurance from your partner. This is normal. How you express those feelings and needs, however, can make a world of difference in whether your partner hears you making a bid for closeness or criticizing.
If you find yourself arguing about sleep schedules, responsibilities, or sex, look below to discover all the feelings that might be there for you. Consider leading with the softest feeling you have. If this is difficult, a good Couples Counselor can help.
There can also be a lot of feelings about how sex may be different. That can run the gamut from the physical recovery from delivery or sleep deprivation, to a woman’s body being different, or even finding things that used to be sexually pleasurable aren’t anymore. It can be a process to find what works for you as a couple sexually after you have a baby, and that process can definitely bring up a lot of complicated emotions.
Connect with your spouse or partner first emotionally. Talk about what it’s like to be the parents of a baby. Talk about how your relationship is doing. Many times, feeling emotionally connected with our love leads to feeling sexual desire. Read more here about the difference between the two most common types of sexual desire, Responsive Desire and Spontaneous Desire. Your desire patterns can change after having a baby, so considering learning a little about desire patterns and talk to each other!
4. Get support from a Couples Counselor
Most couples experience a dip in relationship satisfaction after the baby is born. This is normal. What leads to significant problems is not addressing the challenges and feelings that come with the adjustment to parenting. Avoiding these conversations and not working through the problems can get in the way of sex after baby.
Couples can get stuck around the new division of labor, parenting philosophies and instincts, and the feelings and changes that come with a new baby. It may feel difficult to prioritize working on your feelings and the relationship when a baby needs so much, but it is incredibly important.
Children, even as young as infants, can and do sense when there is strain in your relationship. The stronger and more secure your relationship is will encourage your child’s own secure attachment experiences. Couples counseling can provide the structure and, frankly, the time to focus on your relationship.
Most couples have to work harder to find ways to connect after a baby is born. There is less time, energy and freedom, at least for a little while. Don’t be discouraged, and don’t be concerned that your relationship is broken somehow. It’s not.
You will begin to adjust and find a new way of connecting. If you set an intention to stay as connected as possible and continue to work towards each other, you will find closeness and sexual intimacy again.
If you feel like you are getting stuck as a couple and your interactions are becoming more negative, get some support with Couples Therapy. Call us today at 303-513-8975, X1 to schedule a Couples Counseling appointment to keep the love, closeness and intimacy in your relationship post-baby.