Being a parent offers the best of us enormous challenges, not the least of which is keeping our once-active sex life alive.
For any new parents—whether it’s the first child or the fourth—a few obstacles are almost certain to arise.
1. Exhaustion: a perpetual state of being.
No one will deny that giving birth and caring for a newborn takes a lot out us. Between the baby’s off-kilter sleeping schedule, feedings, changing and more the very thought of making love can seem like some far-fetched luxury.
The good news is that babies do sleep. The bad news is that Baby’s naptime is a mother’s only time to bathe, clean mashed avocado off the couch, attempt to catch up on sleep herself (ha!) and post scads of adorable photos of the wee bairn on Instagram.
Sex? Good luck. Still, try to be flexible enough to take advantage of whatever time you have to yourselves. At first you may not even have the desire to make passionate love to your partner. Relax! Even sharing a cuddle during your baby’s down time will increase intimacy between the two of you.
2. Physical Changes: traversing the new terrain.
There are a few issues women encounter after childbirth that may make it more difficult or even uncomfortable to make love.
Vaginal dryness is perhaps one of the most common experiences among new mothers. Breast-feeding can decrease the amount of fluid in your body. Of course, staying hydrated will help immensely. An instant fix for vaginal dryness is to use a sexual lubricant. There are several exceptional brands on the market, available over the counter in nearly every drugstore. Many are even made with a woman’s physiology in mind (K-Y has an entire product line of them).
Quick tip: If you find you need extra lubricant try not to treat it as a compensation for some shortcoming, but rather incorporate it into your sexplay. Those who have used lubricants in the past know how much fun they can be, for both partners.
Additionally, the muscles of the vaginal canal may feel weaker than they did prior to giving birth. This is of course normal, considering the workout childbirth just gave them! One of the best exercises to strengthen the PC (pubococcygeus) muscles is one most of us have heard of, if not tried already—Kegel exercises. These involve a rhythmic contracting and releasing of the muscles you use to control the flow of urine (they surround your vagina, urethra, and rectum).
Whenever you are able take a few moments to contract these muscle—hold for a few seconds and then release. Begin with sets of ten. As you get stronger try to slow down the actual contraction and release, as though you are picking something up carefully then putting it back down using only your PC muscles.
Quick Tip: These exercises are ideal for preventing incontinence and, best of all, they can be done anywhere and anytime. Only you will know!
3. Physical Pain: not worse than childbirth, but still.
In general most women are able to have sex without discomfort after about six weeks. Don’t be discouraged if it takes longer—every body adjusts at their own pace. We may find that sexual desire returns faster than the body can catch up! (After my son was born I was crossing out days on the calendar).
Don’t forego intimacy simply because you are unable to have intercourse.
There are many ways to make love without penetration. Intimate touching and sexplay (such as mutual masturbation) are great options to satisfy yours and your partner’s sexual needs during your body’s healing time. If you do decide to have intercourse with penetration, pay attention to your body’s needs.
Positions that were a staple of your sexual repertoire in the past may not work so well now, such as missionary position and rear-entry (or doggie-style). Take this opportunity to expand your sexual horizons! Female superior (woman-on-top) positions may be ideal at this time as you can control the amount of pressure on sensitive vaginal areas.
Another excellent position is to have your man lie on his side while you lie on your back, perpendicular to him draping your legs over his hips. Not only is there more control here, but there’s plenty of easy access to clitoral stimulation.
Remember that there is no right time to become sexually active again after having a baby. No matter what challenges present themselves, the love and affection we share with our partner counts more than anything else . Touch, cuddle, and speak lovingly to one another as often as possible.
Sexually speaking, your body will catch up when it’s ready.
After all, you have created a new life between you. There’s hardly anything more beautiful than that. Although sometimes this lovely thought is hard to believe when all of your favorite t-shirts are covered in leaked breastmilk and spitup.
When stressed, chant this too shall pass, then get back to being loving with your partner. In doing so, you’ll also create a healthy child who will grow up to find joyfulness in love.
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Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock