Getting your love life back is often challenging. About 75% of new parents report less sex, which is understandable with a baby on board. But roughly 20% of new mothers have little desire three months after delivery, and another 20% report a complete loss of sexual interest. Some fathers lose their desire (i.e., don’t look), and about 10% of new parents find their love life gets hotter.
The thing is, before your baby arrives, neither of you know what will happen. Getting educated on the possibilities, and (like with other challenges you face) working as a team will help you make the most of your love life.
While first babies stress relationships, they also present an opportunity to improve them. Couples that team up and take on big challenges—like creating a family, the basic building block of humanity, talk more, back each other up, and take pride in their accomplishments.
For new parent teams, the initial anxiety is replaced by a sense of confidence that, together, they will be just fine: a feeling of permanence and commitment sets in. Making love both rejuvenates and celebrates this critical relationship
A diminished love life is a central feature of the two-thirds of new parents with diminished relationships. And it can get worse: divorce and family break-ups peak in the 18 months after a first baby arrives.
Sex is a powerful form of communication and creates an intense emotional connection between you. During orgasm, you are generating oxytocin blasts in each other, sex helps both of you manage stress, be more than roommates and it’s exercise that sharply reduces a man’s risk of heart attacks (we didn’t make that up).
There are many things promoted as being good for your baby, but nothing tops happy parents. Kids thrive in homes with low stress and strong teamwork, and they replicate Mom and Dad’s relationship later in their own lives. A healthy, active love life provides the glue that helps hold you and Mom together, which leads to holding your family together.
So if you don’t communicate like you’ll need to once Junior arrives, add your sex life to the long list of benefits if you start. Talking about it now will ensure you’re not blind-sided if problems develop, and if they do, communicating puts you both on the path to make the best of it.
If making the best of it includes you two, no matter your circumstances, it means she cares and is trying to make it work. This makes a critical difference; while we dads love sex at the moment, what we really crave all the time is feeling loved. We know this because we’ve lost some of that lovin’ feeling.
More good news: Millennial moms talk about sex more. Add the conversation to your pre-baby checklist. Man up and ask her about sex—it’s good for your family.
- Fatigue, stress, feeling unattractive, and fear of getting pregnant
- Soreness and pain from her body taking time to heal and sore breasts and nipples
- Discomfort from vaginal dryness due to hormones, and changed body parts feeling out of whack.
- Lower libido triggered by breastfeeding hormones and feeling “touched out” by continual contact with her baby.
- Your baby, as any peep (real or imagined) may kill the mood.
- Frustration with you. Early on, no matter how good/supportive you are (fairness is not a consideration), you may not be “good enough,” and sex is among the first casualties.
- Just frustrated; she has taken the brunt of new baby responsibilities.
- This, in turn, can be very frustrating for you.
- She may wonder “will I ever be desirable again?”, oblivious to the fact that you absolutely think she is.
Her doctor can only tell her whether her body and any incisions look healed. If yes, still proceed with caution.
Pushing her will be highly counterproductive. Appearing eager can also be coming on too strong.
This is an issue that can scare her, so talk contraception. While nursing moms are not as fertile, the risk of pregnancy increases over time.
Place your little bundle of distraction somewhere besides your room. Soft music, a candle, and perhaps a little wine all help to put her in a romantic mood. See Date Night for times away.
This is a special moment in your new relationship when you re-commit to each other. It’s finally back to just the two of you. She has issues for you to overcome, so do it up right.
If she indicates feeling unattractive: “You are the most beautiful mother in the whole world—the one who gave me my baby.”
If she falls asleep just when things should get going, kiss her on the cheek and tuck her in. Be cheerful and understanding in the morning. Another chance to be her hero.
Informed consent is recommended. "Does this feel good?"
She may be low on natural lubrication, especially if breastfeeding, and vaginal discomfort after delivery is common, so invest in a tube of lube and use it liberally.
Then she’s sure to do what she likes.
She looks great, but they may be for the baby only. Her nipples will be tender and her breasts may leak, which can be uncomfortable and embarrassing for her. Feeding the baby first may help, along with having a sense of humor.
Go slow, be cautious, use positions that let her control the action (Mom on top, side-to-side, spooning), do not switch positions on the fly, and be careful when it gets hot and vigorous. Back off at her slightest indication of discomfort: she needs to enjoy it
If lovemaking doesn’t happen, reassure her you understand and love her, then take a long shower.
One dad at Boot Camp who went seven months without sex was desperate. He had tried everything to jump start a love life with his exhausted wife. On one occasion, after hiring a babysitter, taking his wife to dinner and then retiring to a hotel room, his carefully orchestrated rendezvous fell flat when his weary spouse drifted off to sleep as soon as she hit the mattress. Other dads nodded their heads in understanding.
Another dad reported: "That happened to me, but I got it handled." All eyes were on him…"It takes time. In my case, two days. On Saturday I took the baby all day and made sure she got out—she got her hair done. When she got back I suggested she take a long nap, which she did. The next day is when I got the baby sitter, took her to lunch, and then to a nice hotel. We went early and then slow and easy." Success! (BTW, it will likely be awkward and maybe even funny; in the beginning, hot sex it is usually not.)
Letting her sleep in, go out by herself, and get a nap in the afternoon is a good way to start.
Text her. Try a little wine and conversation in front of a fire once the baby is asleep. Talk about your lives before Junior arrived. Remind her of the fun and good times you had together; talk about your dreams for the future.
Nothing says “I love you” better than a massage, and you are literally warming up her body (BTW, this can be a regular, long-term solution).
Go with what her body responds to, not your well-defined but ill-fated plan. After months of inaction, the longer you take with talking, caressing and kissing, the more she will warm up.
- Some nursing moms find the increased sensitivity of their breasts enjoyable.
- While tired moms find orgasms take longer, they also report they can be more intense and exciting.
- It may turn out that increased blood flow in her pelvic region during pregnancy does not fully dissipate, leaving her more sensitive on a long-term basis.
She’s changed, so “if it works for you it will work for us.” Ask her for guidance on pushing her buttons.
Or both. Do something new like visiting a costume shop and picking out an outfit for each other.
Esther Perel: The secret to desire in a long-term relationship | TEDSalon NY2013 | 19 min.
The first casualty is physical contact, especially if Mom feels it will be an invitation to you for sex. If you spoon at night, you’re generating oxytocin and feelings of love for each other. It first requires a no sex pledge from you - this includes her inadvertently feeling your wood.
Taking a different approach can help you both feel sexual again without the issues of intercourse. Orgasms during those first months after childbirth will provide you and Mom a release of pent up tension and a renewed sense of hope and energy.
Do this together, so you both can get ideas on working it out. As indicated, moms say a lot about sex after a baby and dads are starting to weigh in.
- Her new body is a turn off: a flabby tummy and lack of time to take care of herself means she may no longer be your sex goddess.
- You’re pre-occupied and stressed out by problems you face, and/or you’re too tired.
- Or something else.
It happens, and she needs to know you care and are working on it. Ideas to consider:
- Talk with her about it and reassure her that you love her.
- Exercise or try some new activity together.
- Try cuddling, massage and other non-sexual intimacy.
- Turn out the lights and let her seduce you.
- Try mutual, manual sex.
- Engage in a mild fantasy that shakes up your normal images of each other.
Give it time; don’t give up. Consider a counselor.