Last week, I invited readers to submit their questions to me with the promise that I would answer in future posts. For the next few weeks, I’ll cover one topic each Monday. Today’s question was the first submitted, and perhaps the most time sensitive since the reader is pregnant and expecting “any day now.”
My husband and I (married since last May) have what I would consider a healthy sex life. We are expecting our first child any day now, and I’m worried about that month after the birth of our child. How do we keep the spark while we are both dead tired and unable to have intercourse? I have always had a fairly high sex drive, so because I know I’ll be able to satisfy my husband in other ways I’m quite worried mainly for myself. Any post-birth coping tips for that first month? It makes me sad to miss out on a month of sex before we even have our one year anniversary.
First, what a great attitude about your marital intimacy! Your husband likely feels lucky already.
Second, congratulations! Psalm 127:3 says, “Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him.” I love my children with parts of me I didn’t know existed until they came into the world and stole my heart.
That said, children are also an interruption, a frustration, and a pain in the posterior at times. (Just ask God about His children.) They can seriously disrupt a couple’s sleep schedule and sex life.
And it starts on Day 1 when the hospital, for some inexplicable reason, sends you home with a small human being and no instruction manual. Here you are, wiped out from childbirth, with nothing more than high hopes, a collection of baby supplies, and tidbits of advice from here and there, and you are handed a living, breathing infant.
Consequently, in the first few days, most wives are not thinking, “Oh no, why can’t I have sex?” They are thinking, “Why can’t I have sleep?!” They are wondering how they can afford food now that half their budget goes toward diapers. They are eyeballing the section of their belly that used to be a taut baby bump and now looks like a satchel of blubber. They are considering how scared they are to let out that first bowel movement. (Am I telling the truth, moms?)
Even the husbands may be wondering when the little guy will stop crying or how much pee and poop an eight-pound baby can manufacture! Daddy may feel a bit overwhelmed too.
So yeah, “dead tired” as the reader describes sounds about right.
Then there is the medical restriction on not having intercourse while your nether regions heal from pushing out a head that felt the size of a Mount Rushmore resident. (Okay, it’s not that bad. You’ll do fine! I promise.)
Now that I’ve instilled dread into every pregnant wife out there, here are some tips. Because you are a beautiful, amazing wife and mom; your marriage can stay strong; your intimacy can be managed; and children are a blessing from the Lord.
Let yourself heal. If you attempt intercourse too soon, you may traumatize that area more and have to wait longer before trying again. Expect that there will be a period of time when your focus is on physical recovery and getting to know your baby. In fact, the Old Testament required women to refrain from sex for at least 1-2 weeks (and based on an interpretation I don’t want to cover here, up to 80 days) so that they could heal. These days, most doctors suggest waiting 4-6 weeks to resume intercourse.
Remember that sex isn’t only intercourse. If you can’t score the touchdown now, kick a field goal. (I’m American and don’t know how to translate that to soccer/futbol.) You need not define sex narrowly as the Tab A/Slot B conjoining. You can perform a “hand job,” give your husband a “blow job,” or mutually masturbate. As long as you are comfortable with it and focused on one another, find other physically intimate activities while your lady parts heal and your baby learns to sleep for longer than a movie lasts. In fact, you might look at this time as an opportunity to try something different, explore your spouse, or master a new skill.
If it’s time to resume and sex is painful, report it to your doctor. Then ask for a physical examination. For example, after the birth of one of my children, our attempts to copulate felt like daggers being stabbed into my vagina. Thankfully, I discovered that I was very low on estrogen, and my doctor prescribed a treatment cream which remedied the problem (see Pain & Pleasure). The first time won’t be as comfortable, but intercourse shouldn’t make you cringe and cry.
Engage in plenty of non-sexual affection. Baby will need lots of attention. It’s easy to redirect affection onto this little one and find yourselves not touching one another as much. But even if you can’t be sexually intimate, you can convey intimacy through touch. Reserve some hugs, hand-holding, brushes against a body, and cuddling for your husband. Remind him through affection that you still desire him and, when the time is right, you can resume sexual activity. A 20-second hug has even been shown to release Oxytocin, the body’s bonding chemical, helping you to feel connected.
Be amazed by your body. After the birth of the baby, your hormones can get as tangled up as a twisted slinky. Your body takes time to readjust. Plus, your body doesn’t look quite like it did before. Thus, many moms are prone to having low to no sex drive, crying for any and all reason, and standing in front of the mirror in a full-fledged pity party over the changes in their body. But moms, believe it when your husband says that you are gorgeous, he is amazed by you, and he wants you as much as ever. So what if you have circles under your eyes from 3:00 a.m. feedings? So what if your jelly belly hangs over your undies? You gave birth to a new life. You rock! You are beautiful, desirable, and sexy!
Remember “This too shall pass.” This proverb is often attributed to King Solomon. (It’s the same phrase you’ll want to repeat to yourself when your child learns the word whatever accompanied by an eye-roll, circa age 13). You’re spending the rest of your life with your hubby, so you’ve got umpteen years to go at it like wild monkeys. Having to sit on opposite sides and snack on bananas for a few weeks won’t seem like such a long time when all is said and done. Re-establish your sex life as soon as you can, but don’t sweat every moment either. Resume activity and increase sexual frequency as your body heals and the demands on your time decrease.
I wish you, Reader, and other pregnant wives the best with childbirth and the infant years. The days are long, but the years go fast. Enjoy your little one and let this time bring you and your husband together.
To ask me another question, head back to the original post HERE. I’ll get to each and every one eventually!
Feel free to post your own suggestions for pregnant and new moms in the comments. How did you get through those first months?