Becoming a parent changes a lot of things in a relationship, including your sex life. Whilst you might hear plenty of horror stories of couples who never had sex again, the reality is that having a baby does not spell the end of your sexual relationship.
Why do things change?
There are plenty of reasons why your sex life might change after having a baby. Not least a combination of hormonal changes and being completely exhausted!
- Physical changes:try to remember that your partner has been through an awful lot. You were in the delivery room after all! You know that it wasn’t a walk in the park to bring your baby into the world. Your partner might be worried about sex feeling different after childbirth or about her body looking different, so try to be sensitive and talk openly to her about how she is feeling.
- Emotional changes: having a baby brings a whole wealth of new feelings to the table for both you and your partner. Hormonal changes might cause your partner’s libido to drop and the tiredness and responsibility of a newborn baby might take a toll on yours too!
Should we be worried?
Everyone is different and there is no ‘normal’ time to start having sex again. According to Raising Children Network, some mothers feel ready after 1-3 months, some take much longer than that. For some mothers breastfeeding can spark feelings of sexual arousal due to a release of oxytocin, for others this isn’t the case.
Whilst you might feel confused and upset if your partner is seemingly not interested in sex, try to remember that this is pretty normal. Try talking to your partner about your feelings whilst being open to hearing how she feels in return.
If you’re having problems figuring things out and need an objective ear, a counsellor can help you get back on track
How do we get back on track?
How you find your new normal is unique to your relationship, however being patient and communicating is the best way to maintain your intimacy in the months after having a baby.
Whilst spare time is a precious and rare commodity with a newborn, it might help to try to make some time for each other, even if it’s just sharing a cup of coffee whilst bub naps or touching in over the phone during the day if you’re back in the office.
The most important thing is to be patient. Your partner has been through a lot both physically and emotionally. If she has had stitches or a caesarean she will need time to heal. It’s not personal! You are her baby daddy after all!
Introducing intimacy slowly can help you get back on track as a couple. Holding hands and cuddling can be just as important as sex when you’re negotiating your new life with a new born and can help your partner feel appreciated.
Finally make sure to look after yourselves as best you can. It’s hard to be interested in sex when you’re exhausted and barely fitting in a meal. Try to focus on eating well, sleeping where you can and taking time for yourselves both together and apart, even if it’s only for 15 minutes during the day.
If you or your partner is struggling, don’t be afraid to speak up. Your doctor can advise you on how to move forward and offer you help and support. beyondblue’s Dadvice website also has lots of great advice on relationships for new parents.