It’s almost cruel how quickly married sex can go from the heights of honeymoon romance to the basement of “who in the world has time for this”?
Nothing changes your world like giving birth. Suddenly your body feels different, your schedule is changed, and the demands of motherhood are ever-present. Most physicians recommend waiting 4-6 weeks after delivery before resuming sexual activity, but soon after this healing interval, you can and should regain some intimacy with your husband. It’s important to your marriage relationship, and has benefits for both of you. Here are some tips for overcoming the common obstacles to sex in the postpartum months.
What ever it is that scares you or makes you avoid sex after delivery, don’t keep it to yourself. Talk to your husband about your discomforts, physical or mental, so that he can try to meet you halfway and rebuild your sexual relationship in a way that works for you. Are you concerned about bleeding or lacerations from your delivery? Talk it out with your OB/GYN at your postpartum check-up, or call the office. (And don’t be shy—they’ve heard it all.)
2. The Breastfeeding Issues.
If you’re breastfeeding, you’ll have a unique set of sex-life challenges. Your breasts may often be engorged, sore, and may react to the stimulation of physical contact by leaking. Plus there’s just the whole mental tension of, “Is this part of my body about nourishing my child or about physical pleasure for my husband and me”? The truth is that they’re both, and that it’s all perfectly natural and as God intended. That doesn’t mean you’ll be comfortable with both mindsets immediately. Again, tell your husband what’s difficult about it for you, and work out solutions together. (Some new moms just keep a nursing bra on during sex for some time to ease the transition and prevent leaking and some just declare their chests a hands-off zone for a period of time until things settle down.) But resist the urge to let nursing serve as an excuse to avoid physical intimacy altogether.
You’ll never be more exhausted than in the first few months of motherhood. So it’s easy to say, “I’m just too tired” every time your husband tries to initiate sex. But taking care of yourself can go a long way toward getting your energy back. Take a nap in the afternoon with the baby so that you’re a little more refreshed when he gets home. Work in some exercise during the day to help your energy levels rebound. Spend a few minutes making yourself pretty, rather than staying in your sloppy at-home duds all day. (It’s amazing how looking like the old you can make you feel like the old you!) Trust us, he’d rather have you interested in him after the baby is down for the night than come home to a sparkling house and a big dinner every evening. Save your energy for what he’ll value most.
4. Take it Slow.
Feel free to ask your husband to progress a little slower and to be more gentle than before. Much of the anxiety about post-baby sex is unwarranted and once you see for yourself that everything is okay, you’ll relax. Spend more time just touching—cuddling, hugging, relaxing together—to ease into it all. And adjust your expectations: your body has gone through radical changes over a few months and things may not feel exactly the same, at least for a while. Be patient while you both learn to be intimate in the “new normal.”
We know. Easier said than done, right? But you’ll have better sex if you can truly turn your attention to yourself and your husband for a short time. Concentrate on your body, his body, and being in the moment with him. Light a candle, turn on some music, do whatever it takes to transport yourself to a different place in your head. Whether your little bundle of joy is snoozing in a bassinet in the corner, or down the hall in the crib, they’ll be fine long enough for you to live this part of your life, too!
Dana Hall McCain writes about marriage, parenting, faith and wellness. She is a mom of two, and has been married to a wonderful guy for over 18 years.