Sex After Baby
Christine Sweeney, LICSW Program Manager, Parent Connection, BIDMC
JUNE 21, 2017
What?!! Well, yes, let’s talk about it. It’s likely something that you and your partner (if you’re partnered) are thinking about. And for all of the thinking and angsting that we do about it, we spend very little time actually talking about it. S-E-X! There, the elephant in the room is no longer invisible. Let’s get to it.
I find it interesting and telling that, in the weekly new moms’ group that I facilitate, sex is a topic very rarely broached by any group member. Yet, when a brave new mama does venture to bring up the subject, most every other mama in the room has something to say! And it goes something like this:
- My delivery was really hard, I had lots of stitches and I’m afraid it will hurt.
- I’m too exhausted to have any energy for sex!
- There’s no time.
- I’m afraid my boobs will leak.
- The first time we tried, it was really uncomfortable.
- It [my vagina] was really dry.
- My libido isn’t the same as it was before I had my baby.
- I’m feeling kind of pressured by my partner.
- I’m worried it will be different than before we had our baby.
Sound familiar? You are not alone. In fact, you are in some excellent (if exhausted) company.
Sex is something you used to enjoy, look forward to, and fantasize about. And now that you’ve gotten the clearance from your doctor at your six-week check-up, you might find yourself feeling apprehensive about reactivating your sex life. Guess what? It’s normal. And it’s also normal to be raring to go. Or somewhere in between. As with our babies, we are different. And you’re right, some things may have changed – some might be temporary, some might be permanent. What’s most important is to work with what’s going on now.
Often both new parents are tired, though the partner who stays home with baby (usually birth mom, but not always), may be feeling the exhaustion at a deeper (like in your bones) level, as you are attending to baby and home (and sometimes paid work) responsibilities. There’s never enough time to get everything done. There certainly isn’t enough sleep being gotten. And you might feel like sex just doesn’t make it very high up on the priority list. But you miss your partner.
Just as you might have some concern about physical discomfort, your partner might also worry about doing something that might hurt you. Talk about it. What hopes and expectations and worries is each of you holding? How might you want to handle leaky boobs or physical discomfort or emotional vulnerability? You might talk about what you find sexy about one another, or reminisce about sexual encounters that were particularly fun or funny!
And at some point, dispense with the talking! Make an in-home reciprocal massage date (when baby is sleeping, or out with a caregiver) for which the recipient gets to pick the area to be massaged. Make out with your partner. See how you feel after some good old-fashioned kissing! It’s okay to ease back into your sexual groove. You likely have less time and energy for sex than you did pre-baby. Yet it’s still possible to have a meaningful, fun sex life with your partner. So, I invite you to proceed with curiosity, love, lust, a sense of humor, and you just may be pleasantly surprised!
Submitted by Kim Cooke, LICSW