By Jan de Lange
It’s the butt of countless sitcom jokes. There are enough self-help books on it to fill a library. It’s a stereotype that immediately brings about an eyeroll for some and a glance away of embarrassment for others. But for many couples, the often almost-immediate loss of sexual intimacy after having kids is a deeply painful experience. Countless factors – ranging from physical discomfort after giving birth, to postpartum depression and the stresses of raising kids – can contribute to a virtual disappearance of a once very busy sex life. Here are some ways to reconnect with each other and get your room steaming again:
Don’t rush, but do play
This may seem counterintuitive, but it is important. Women’s bodies need time to heal after birth and trying to have sex too soon after birth could lead to physically uncomfortable and painful experiences. This could discourage the pursuit of sexual intimacy for you and your partner. At the same time, maintaining some physical intimacy other than sex could help you slide back into things once you are ready.
Ease into it
Your life has changed dramatically with the arrival of your child. As countless baby articles have no doubt told you and your little one has surely shown you: babies don’t follow schedules. This can make something as basic as finding the time and energy for physical intimacy surprisingly difficult. If you and your partner had a highly active sex life before baby’s arrival, it’s very easy to forget that you probably aren’t going to go straight back to your “twice a day, every day” regimen. The key is to avoid letting that put you off. It can take weeks, months and sometimes even years for some couples to get their groove back. Long breaks between routine intimacy, or even intermittent intimacy for some time are both normal.
Spontaneity is great, but not essential
The flexibility of most people’s lifestyles before having kids made spontaneous, impulsive sex a frequent occurrence. Having a child in the house often imposes a new sense of structure on the household that is often not compatible with idealised idea of spontaneous intimacy. The fact is that like so many other things in your life now, some planning is required to make it happen – and that’s ok! It’s well documented that the more you have sex, the more sex you’ll want. So, to adapt to your new normal, you may initially need to schedule some couple time. But as your routine sets in and you master the new demands on your time and energy, sooner or later you’ll find that need to plan disappear, and that beloved spontaneity return.
If you, your partner, or both of you are experiencing a continuous lack of desire it may be time to seek help. Many new parents may need some assistance adjusting to the drastic change brought about by parenthood. It can be a lot to deal with and the sheer stress and exhaustion of it all can impact sex drive. For some, it really does begin and end with stress. Others may find themselves experiencing depression symptoms. In either case, if you feel overwhelmed it’s very likely that the shenanigans that made your first child end up taking an indefinite back seat. So, if you can overcome being overwhelmed, chances are you’ll feel good enough to get up to no good much sooner.
Rebuilding intimacy is often a marathon, not a sprint. It’s completely natural for it to take some time. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself and before you know it, you might just be getting that heartrate up again.