Sex After Having A Baby

by Cay Crow, M.A., LPC, AASECT-Certified Sex Therapist

man and woman laying on bed upside down with a baby in a diaper in between them

How Having A Baby Affects Your Sex Life?

Dear Cay:

My husband and I have a beautiful 18 month-old baby girl. The problem is that our sex life has just not been the same since she was born. She sleeps in our bed most of the night because she is still breastfeeding. We are trying to wean her and get her to sleep in the crib in our room. When we are trying to make love and she wakes up, I feel bad about interrupting our lovemaking. I think the lack of closeness is starting to affect our relationship. We are both willing to try anything to improve the situation.

Frustrated new parents

How New Parents Can Improve Their Sex Lives?

Dear Frustrated new parents:

What you are describing is common with new parents. How do you balance parenthood, which takes so much of your time and energy with an ongoing intimate relationship? The fact that you are both willing to work at your love life makes a huge difference. This may not sound romantic but if your baby girl is on a schedule that means you are too, so schedule your lovemaking. If she wakes up at a certain time set an alarm 15-30 minutes ahead of that time and use it wisely. Don't feel that you must have intercourse either. Expand your lovemaking (if you haven't already) to include other activities such as oral sex, manual stimulation, sensual massage and simple caressing and stroking. You and your husband decide which activities would help each of you feel more connected emotionally. Don't assume that either of you needs to orgasm in order to feel satisfied. Tell him what you are willing to do - take the lead. Think of your intimate time together as a spiral with no distinct beginning or end rather than a linear process that starts and stops. Lovemaking also includes affection outside of the bedroom and reassuring your spouse that you want to be intimate.

Sex Life of New Parents

Remember that breastfeeding benefits both you and the baby in numerous ways; try not to rush the weaning process. Breastfeeding triggers the release of oxytocin, a neurotransmitter in the brain, which signal contractions of the uterus that stimulate the organ to return to its pre-pregnancy size. Research shows that breastfeeding is nutritionally superior to formula and that it encourages emotional bonding between mother and child. Most doctors recommend breastfeeding for at least a year after birth. Thereafter, the mother and the baby decide when to wean.

Now that you are parents, you may want to consider scheduling adult time just for the two of you. When you are ready, find some childcare that you can trust and go on a date with your husband - once a month, once every two weeks, whatever works for you. The more connected you are with your husband (not just sexually), the better you both can deal with the demands of parenting. Also schedule in time to meet your own needs; go out with your girlfriends, take a luxurious bath, go on a hike, whatever it is that fulfills you as a person. If your needs go unmet, it will affect your ability to deal with your daughter and her needs. Besides, your daughter will learn about relationships from you and your husband; model in your own life what you want for her.


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