Without a doubt, the time in our marriage I least felt like having sex was after my babies were born. You might think since they’re now teenagers, I’ve forgotten what that’s like, but I clearly recall the total lack of interest I had in being touched by another human being, much less fondled and sexed up in the marriage bed.
Looking back, I wish I’d handled it all so much better. Frankly, I’ve apologized to the hubster (and made up for it!), but I also learned a few things I can share with the reader who asks this question:
I am writing because I just had my first baby!! She’s wonderful and a great addition to our lives!!! However, as I figured, things have changed in my anatomy. I don’t feel like myself physically or emotionally! We had sex for the first time at 6 weeks postpartum and it was awful! My husband was very sweet and kind about it! He was very loving and gentle. What can I do about my brain and emotions to want to be intimate with him again? I just am looking for any advice I can find for sex after a baby! I am praying through this, but am looking for practical advice as well! Thanks!
My favorite line from this query is “I don’t feel like myself physically or emotionally!” Amen, sister. Pregnancy and childbirth take over your body like nothing else and change you. I’ve had lasting consequences from that experience, like a heightened sense of smell and new allergies. Go figure.
I’m not sure an alien abduction could rival the life-changing experience of hosting a tiny human being in your body and then pushing it out into the world. Then, while your body is still in full recovery mode, you’re supposed to figure out how to care for this baby. Welcome to Crash Course Parenting!
Now add your need to return to sexy wife status, and the pressure can feel insurmountable. Someone, send this lady on vacation, please!
But you’re not alone, and others have successfully tread the waters before. Or at least learned important lessons they can share from not doing it so fabulously.
Get a physical check-up. If sex continues to feel “awful,” there could be a physical reason for your discomfort. Tell your doctor what’s going on. Be honest, specific, and persistent. Your hormones could be so thrown off you’re not producing enough estrogen to lubricate and swell down there. You could have an infection. You could be slow to heal from tearing. Make sure your doctor does a physical examination of your body to see if something might be triggering your problems. If pain continues, check out my post on pain during sex.
Give yourself time. Most doctors prescribe 4-6 weeks to recover from childbirth before attempting intercourse. But honestly, the recommendation is built on averages. Some women can engage after 2-3 weeks, others need 8-10 weeks. Just know your particular situation may vary from the standard, and that’s okay. It’s an individual couple’s decision when to get back to making love. You definitely want to aim for it, but not push so hard that you dread the encounter.
And since I know I have hubbies reading: Listen up, guys. Want to make me madder than a plucked hen? Tell me your wife should give birth one day and meet your sexual needs within a week. Seriously? Have you ever gone through childbirth? No, you have not. It’s a beautiful experience, but it also wreaks havoc with a woman’s body. Rather than demanding sex on your terms, please dig deep for compassion and grace and help her through a difficult transition. Honestly, she’s more likely to want to make love to you if you’re helpful, understanding, and loving to her in this season. That’s how you’re supposed to treat your wife anyway. (Really. Look it up.)
Appreciate your body. Plenty of new moms do not feel great about presenting their naked bodies to hubby. However you felt about that big bulge in your belly during pregnancy, now that baby’s gone, it can look like a sagging sack. It takes a while for everything to get back where it belongs. If you’re nursing, you have the added awkwardness of leaking at inopportune times. Oops, sorry about that, hubs. Many moms have absolutely no interest in using their breasts sexually while they’re baby food factories. Which can throw off your marital sex routine.
But here’s the thing: Your body is incredible. Just look at that baby and imagine how God used your body to grow and nurture that little body with all its intricate parts. Most husbands also gain a fresh appreciation for the wonder of their wife’s body. I remember vividly feeling like a crazy mess a few weeks after my first kid, lying on the couch in my pajamas, and crying to my poor husband about my flabby, exhausted body. He shrunk back with shock and proclaimed, “I love your body even more now.” Hey, that body gave him a child.
Not only did God knit you together, he knit a baby in your womb (Psalm 139:13). Besides, you still have all those curves and fascinating places that thrill your guy. Remind yourself regularly of your beauty and embrace your self-confidence.
Rebuild your sexual intimacy. The reality is that your sex life is not the same. I venture to say it will never be the same as it was B.C. (before children). Your body has changed. Your relationship to one another has broadened. Your child is an ongoing responsibility. Your attention is more divided.
You can’t have sex anytime you want anymore, because baby’s schedule is now in the mix. As your child grows, you’ll be faced with the challenges of getting interrupted, having to take extra measures for privacy, and finding time to squeeze lovemaking between Junior’s piano lessons and parent night. None of this means you can’t have amazing sexual intimacy! All of these challenges and experiences link you together more, making sex even more meaningful.
Simply keep this in mind and rebuild your sexual intimacy from here. Find out what arouses you, how to best prepare yourself for sexual intimacy, how you can creatively carve out time, what you can do to extend foreplay throughout the day (so that when you’re ready to go, you’re ready to go). Learn to laugh about those times when you’re right on the brink of making love . . . and kiddo yells, “Daddy, what are you and mommy doing?” from the other side of your bedroom door. Or other child-specific, funny-bone moments. Just take a fresh perspective of your sex life together.
Focus your mind on sexual desire. Finally, you mentioned getting back into things emotionally. That requires getting your head in the game, being able to switch from your list of Mama to-dos to what you and Papa want to do with each other. New mommy brains tend to be full of responsibilities, worry, and exhaustion. There’s not a lot of room in there for sexy thoughts.
Make room. Make it a goal to think something sexy about your hubby and/or yourself during the day. You can use a journal to record your thoughts, align that task with another (I will remember a great time we made love every day while brushing my teeth), text your husband something romantic, plan a rendezvous. Ask for help from your husband for that mental shift, by letting him bathe the baby or rock him to sleep while you take a few minutes for a soothing bubble bath, a chance to make the bedroom nice and light candles, or slipping into something that makes you feel desirable.
When there’s so much else going on, we have to make a conscious decision to focus on sex with our husband. If you make it a priority in your mind, over time you’ll likely find your emotions following. You will reawaken love for him and your sexual intimacy.
That concludes my advice this time around. I’m curious to hear from my readers. What tips worked for you or what lessons did you learn from your own experience?