The question How do we keep romance alive after having kids? came up in my pregnancy group last week and was then again received in my inbox. An expecting mom was worried about her future sex life as she has a few friends who report that they’re not intimate with their partners often…since having baby. Those women are not alone! Relationships take work; and your partner, like your baby, needs attention and nurturing!
First, we all know that you can’t have sex for at least six weeks after having a baby. THAT may be a big change for you and your partner. Add to that, you are completely sleep deprived, breast feeding a newborn, “touched-out”, and irritable. What you need in those early weeks is not necessarily to get your groove on with your partner, but to feel connected, to work as a team, and to support one another. Start there. Show appreciation for the little things he does for you (and dads, give thanks to moms for all the work she’s doing to care for baby, you, and herself!). If he changes diapers, brings you water, cooks dinner….tell him how much it means to you. Appreciation brings more acts of kindness, stronger connection, and lots of good feelings all around.
Once you’ve begun to identify new routines and patterns, shake things up! Plan a date night. If you have family or friends willing to come snuggle your baby for an hour or two, get out alone with your partner. TALK to your partner…giving space for conversations that do not include feedings & diaper changes. Put talk of baby aside and reconnect. If you don’t have someone to watch the baby, have a date night at home. Once baby is asleep…even if he’s in the swing nearby…turn on some music, maybe have a glass of wine and some take-out, connect. Or, bring baby, in her cozy little bucket seat, to a local restaurant. The background noise might be soothing and perhaps baby will stay content (or asleep) throughout the meal. Worst case scenario, you pack up and leave…but you won’t know if you don’t try it. It could be a success!
Finally, know that for many women, when it comes time to having sex for the first time, things feel a bit different. You aren’t familiar with this postpartum body; you’re anxious about how it might feel (will it hurt?); you’re worried about your leaky breasts or the baby waking up. This is normal. But, carry on! Talk about your feelings with your partner. Take things slow. And keep lubrication on hand as you may be drier that usual (changes in hormones can lead to vaginal dryness). And, MEN, listen up…you have an important role here too! Tell her how beautiful she is! You are amazed that her body could bring to life this new person and you love every bit of it -and her- for that gift. Connect emotionally with Mom and move at a slower pace if she needs that. Keeping an intimacy alive after baby is both partners responsibility. Show appreciation, affection, and attraction!
Also know that things will continue to change: baby will sleep more; your body will recover; your libido will improve. Being connected to your partner is so important ~ in 18 years that little baby will move out and hopefully, you and your partner will still know each other as a couple. This happens by connecting well beyond just being co-parents, but staying friends, partners, and lovers.