Reclaiming Your Sex Life After Having A Baby
By Mel MacFarlane of Voluptasse
For all families, the birth of a child is a wonderful experience and something to be celebrated. However, when the initial euphoria settles down and the guests dwindle away, the reality of becoming a parent begins to hit home. As rewarding and incredible as the experience is, it’s hard – and for Mum and Dad, the dynamic of the relationship begins to change. No longer are you the carefree couple who enjoys long walks and pub lunches, you are the couple who bicker over the correct method of heating a bottle and whether ALDI nappies really are as good as Pampers.
Between juggling feeds, changes, routines, weaning and play dates it’s hard to forget that you are in fact, a couple. As much as we love our children and they should absolutely be our priority, we also need to remember to work on our relationships too. After all, they should also be nurtured.
My Birth Experiences
Sex after birth is an area which I do have some experience in. After all, with five children at home it’s a bridge that I have crossed many times. My first two births were relatively straightforward: natural births with some stitching required. For the twins I had an emergency C Section and later with my youngest child, a planned C Section with sterilisation.
Every birth experience was never the same, and the way that I felt after each birth was also very different. After my first birth I lacked confidence. My son weighed over 10lbs and I was shocked at the state of my body. I clutched wobbly bits and pinched layers of fat, and for someone who had always been naturally slim, it was upsetting. I avoided sex, not because I was tired but because I didn’t feel good.
After a while the weight disappeared and I came to terms with my new figure. It wasn’t perfect, but I regained my confidence and felt much better, I had another child and also became pregnant with twins.
However, after the emergency C Section and early delivery of my twins, things changed. My marriage began to break down and after a year, my husband and I separated. Trying to juggle work, raising a family and mundane day to day tasks took priority over our relationship and pretty soon, we were living separate lives.
When I met my second husband and became pregnant with our daughter, I was determined to find a way to keep the spark in our relationship, especially with a newborn baby. I certainly didn’t want to repeat any of the mistakes I’d made with my first marriage, so we tried even harder to make our relationship a priority too. My daughter’s birth was a planned C Section and I opted for a sterilisation at the same time. I had five children by this point, and was happy to stop.
Sex After Childbirth
There are no rights and wrongs to sex after birth, and there is no right way for someone to feel. Some might want sex sooner, whilst others prefer to wait. For me, it was usually 3-4 weeks after having my baby that I felt ready to be intimate with my partner.
Having great sex after birth can depend on a number of factors. Namely, the type of birth that you have and the healing process afterwards. It’s never advisable to rush having sex after any kind of tearing or cutting. Instead to minimise the spread of bacteria, and because it can be painful after stitches, wait until you have the all clear from your Health Visitor or Doctor.
Another factor which may affect your desire to have sex is breast feeding. Breast feeding can cause vaginal dryness, so during those months when feeding your baby invest in a decent lubricant and keep it close to hand.
Having Great Sex After Birth
Forget the sex!
Whaaaat? I hear you say. An article about your sex life that says have no sex! Has she gone mad? No, I haven’t gone mad but until you feel completely ready to think about sex, forget it. Focus on being a parent and enjoy some ‘relationship time’ that doesn’t involve physical intimacy whilst your body recovers. If you are ready to leave your baby with a doting grandparent or a trusted friend, why not enjoy a couple of hours a week with your partner in a child free environment. If not, try to make the most of nap time with a film or coffee together. Leave the housework to pile up, wear your vomit stains with pride and just have some time together. It’s important.
Let The Jiggly Bits Jiggle
After my oldest son was born, it took me ages to come to terms with my lumps and bumps. Before birth, I was a size 6 and everything was firm. Afterwards, I remember my (ex!) husband comparing my droopy 32 AAA breasts with the ears of a spaniel pup. Something said in jest, but he regretted it bitterly (see, even now, 6 years after separation I’m still finding new ways to complain about it). In short, everything wobbled, jiggled and sagged.
Like it or not, it takes 9 months to create those wobbly bits and it’ll take much longer to get rid of them again – and even that’s not guaranteed! From my experience, my post pregnancy body was never so bad that it stopped me having sex. I might have kept the lights out until I felt more confident, but in the throes of passion I found that I didn’t actually care that much.
Finding Time For Sex
When sleep deprived and juggling life with a new baby, the thought of sex couldn’t be further from your mind. I’ve heard the saying ‘sleep when your baby sleeps’ and laughed in disbelief too. After all, do we simply lie down for a snooze whilst our older children set the house on fire and stick their fingers in the plug sockets? We just have to drink more coffee and muddle through. You’ll be pleased to hear that it does get better. Eventually.
Finding time for each other is very important and that’s where communication and teamwork really plays its part. There’s no point in trying to make proper plans at first, babies are adept at throwing the best laid plans into absolute chaos. Instead, work together to share the childcare and the cleaning so that for a few minutes at least, when you do get a moment to breathe the time you spend together is quality time.
When you walk into my house, the first thing you see is clutter. The second thing is even more clutter. I made a conscious decision after having my fifth child that I wanted to have a happy family life and sometimes, that means leaving the cleaning until tomorrow. I make sure the house is clean, but with 5 kids it’s rarely tidy. If this upsets my visitors, I advise them not to come back.
The biggest passion killer after childbirth is sleep deprivation. Lack of sleep after having a baby doesn’t just kill your libido but as a couple, you find yourselves becoming irritated with each other. At times, I felt tearful and resentful of all the lovely sleep my partner was enjoying whilst I rocked a wide-eyed baby in the early hours of the morning. We took turns but as every mother knows, when your baby is awake your brain never shuts off. I’d lie there at night whilst my perfectly capable husband fell far short of my impossibly high standards, and complain bitterly that ‘he wasn’t doing it right’ and the baby has probably been poisoned. This was usually followed by a 4am argument, lots of flouncing and storming around the house whilst the baby finally slept soundly.
The moral of the story is that the sleepless nights will improve. I can’t promise they will ever stop, but as the baby settles more, your energy will return.
I’m breaking all the rules here, but who cares. I am a huge fan of parent sex and fully endorse the ‘parent quickie’. For those who haven’t heard of the parent quickie, it’s the really fast sex with a few key moves and a great orgasm. As a Mum of five, I’ve perfected this skill in my sex life and it’s a method which works for me.
I want to have hours of marathon sex with my partner, but with a full time job and five kids I simply don’t have the energy. If you know what works for you both, and the sex is enjoyable (albeit quick) it doesn’t have to last for hours. However, be wary of getting stuck in a rut. This is a quick-fix solution and it’s still important to keep things interesting.
Quickie sex is fun, but it’s also predictable.
Sex Without Interruptions From Baby
Good luck with that.
The Secret To A Successful Sex Life After A Baby
I remember the consultant ringing me a few weeks after my sterilisation. Tentatively, she asked if there was a chance that could be pregnant. I responded with ‘only if I hadn’t been sterilised’. My Mum, who was present was horrified because my daughter was only a few weeks old and I’d already been having sex.
The truth was, I was having the time of my life. I had a happy healthy baby, a lovely family and a husband who loved me very much – even the wibbly wobbly bits! I felt positive about the future and more importantly, I felt supported by my partner, friends and family. Don’t get me wrong, there were some very tough days but being able to rant and rave really helped.
There were some days when one of us didn’t want to have sex, and that was fine too. I made it clear that it wasn’t about him, I was just tired. Sometimes he didn’t feel like it and I respected his decision.
For me, the secrets to a great sex life after having a baby (or babies) were working together, communicating and waiting for the right moment – with permission from the baby of course!
– Mel MacFarlane
About the writer: Mel MacFarlane is an experienced adult industry copywriter, product reviewer and business consultant. You can find her at her own leading sexuality magazine, Voluptasse. You can also follow Mel’s work on Twitter and Facebook.