The arrival of a new baby brings big changes to a couple’s sex life, in ways they may not have imagined. There are a number of factors which influence a new mother’s level of desire as well as her interest in having sex.
BabyTalk, a website associated with Parenting.com conducted a survey of almost 10,000 of their readers, 96% female, about their post-partum sex lives. And, what they found is probably not news to you.
Couples who enjoyed an active sex life before the arrival of a baby experienced dramatic changes after the birth of their new child. When before 66% of women surveyed enjoyed sex more than once a week, less than 24% of couples with a baby had sex more than once a week. The article doesn’t break the numbers down further, so it’s hard to know if these numbers increase 2, 4, or 8 months after the birth of a child.
The average wait for resuming sex after giving birth is around 6 weeks, according to doctors; it may be longer before you actually feel like resuming sexual activity. Husbands will normally report more of a desire to have sex soon after childbirth, understandably so, as their bodies have not been subject to the rigors of birth.
There are a number of factors contributing to a lack of sexual desire. Sleep deprivation comes at the top of the list. New mothers are tired, feeding sporadically through the night, constantly attending to the needs of a new infant and experiencing the emotional and hormonal changes that come with childbirth. Breastfeeding mothers are less likely to resume sexual activity as quickly as mothers who use bottles. That could be attributed to the hormonal factors of breastfeeding, or the psychological changes inherent in the ‘breast’ becoming a vehicle for feeding and no longer a sexy body part. It’s difficult to relax if you think milk will come spurting out during the middle of sex.
Even in today’s environment where men are very involved with babies and spend time providing care for their newborns, it’s still a mother-child thing and moms of infants may feel closer to the new baby than to their husbands. Dads begin to feel estranged and without conversation tension arises.
So, what to do?
- Understand that the changes in a relationship are to be expected with the arrival of your first child. Accept that fact and talk to each other about how you feel about the changes.
- Schedule together time, without the baby. Whether it’s planning a special at-home dinner or a late night movie when the baby is asleep or, even better, getting a babysitter and going out for a few hours. You need that time for just the two of you.
- Talk about sex. Plan it. You might plan a sensuous activity that need not culminate in sexual intercourse. She may not be ready for the full experience, but a massage, or other pleasurable activity could be satisfying for both of you.
- Take a look at your bedroom, is it the baby headquarters? Are you keeping the baby in the room with you? If your room has become a nursery or staging area, it’s hard to have sexy thoughts. Consider moving a sleeping baby into another room for a few hours.
If you find that these ideas are not working, or attempts at sexual intercourse are painful, then it’s time to talk to the ob-gyn. She will be able to rule out physical issues and offer suggestions as well. Accept that the return to a romantic relationship will be slow going, but be sensitive to possible continuing issues.
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