Kids Don’t Have to Cock Block

Before becoming pregnant, sex journalist Marith Ledema described her love life as active and exciting. After giving birth, she was determined to keep it that way—newborn or not. But having good postpartum sex turned out to be easier said than done. How do you stop the passion from withering once you have a kid?

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Postpartum sex – How to keep things going after giving birth

My love Duncan and I are lying on the couch, exhausted. I take a deep breath and try to relax. We knew having a baby would be tiring, but being constantly stressed out was the real surprise and not a pleasant one. Our dear son Noah is the most precious and beautiful little thing, but, up till now, he hasn’t been particularly excited about being with us. And he is not afraid to “voice” his displeasure, day and night. Loud—so very loud—and clear!

I look at Duncan and take his hand in mine. We exchange tired smiles. I pose a question: “Do you remember how we had sex on the floor, against the kitchen counters, here on this couch spontaneously?”

We both laugh. When we used to make love for hours! It all feels like a lifetime ago.

“I miss that,” Duncan says as he lifts himself from the couch and nestles next to me. I nod. Me too. At least, In theory.

I now have worn-out pelvic floor muscles

Duncan comes closer. His lips find mine. We kiss. His right hand caresses my upper leg. My body doesn’t respond the way it used to before “Project Baby”. No surprise there. After giving birth, it hasn’t been that pleasant to cum. If I want to go back to the good old days of climaxing—I do—those worn-out pelvic floor muscles of mine need to get a workout. But, good grief! As if I haven’t enough on my plate already.

The far-from-climactic climaxes aren’t the only thing that made my libido vanish. When you’re walking on your last legs (as you do as a new parent), you’d rather opt for a back rub than a good shag.

Unlike before, I have to dig and dig and dig deep within myself to find a glimpse of desire. Thankfully, Duncan is persistent. At last, despite hormonal shifts and sleep deprivation, my body awakens. I moan softly as he kisses my tummy and thighs. I push my hips up, encouraging Duncan to go further. And just when he reaches for my thong, our son starts screaming.

Noah, you little cock-and-pussy-blocker.

I care!

“My love life will remain just as hot!” When I got pregnant, I shouted this from the rooftop. I believed Duncan and I wouldn’t steer clear of the relational ruts that new parents often face. We were going to show them how it’s done!

In retrospect, my confidence was misplaced. Because after Noah was born, there wasn’t much left of the “old me”—a woman eager to experiment, always up for a little something. Under these new circumstances, I had changed, as most women do; sex therapist Eveline Stallaart affirms as much. Eveline regularly counsels couples who struggle with postpartum sex and haven’t been intimate since welcoming their baby. Eveline says, “Lots of women walk into my office proclaiming some version of the following: ‘The sex has been awful after giving birth. But who cares? Look what it brought me!’”

Well… I care!

I believe it’s so worth it to work your ass off at maintaining a great sex life when you have a child. Especially in hard times like these, your relationship benefits from all the things you gain from (good) sex: intimacy, forgiveness and connection. Sex can be the cure for those day-to-day frustrations, bringing happiness, relaxation, and reduced irritation. It leads to a better night’s rest. Plus, while you’re at it, sex boosts your happy hormone, dopamine.

I often hear people say, “We get back to having sex once they’re in school.” I beg to differ. I believe it’s harder to relight a fire when it is extinguished for a long time than when there is still something smouldering underneath the ashes. So I won’t adopt this “waiting” plan. The notion of giving up on sex doesn’t cross my mind. It’s not easy; there will be ups and downs. I truly believe that Duncan and I will avert the looming extinguishing of our sex lives.

How do you survive a sexual dry spell as a new parent?

These are helpful tools for postpartum sex based on what I learned:

1. Accept the changes and face those feelings

My sex life changed drastically during pregnancy and the months after giving birth. I had a hard time accepting that. Now I know that it’s normal. It’s part of the “deal”. While some women and couples experience a sexual renaissance when a new family member arrives, more often than not, new parents struggle to keep things going in the bedroom. That doesn’t mean you should just throw in the towel—it’s not a burping cloth. Keep having conversations. Ask questions like “What’s going on with you?” “What are your needs?” and “How can I help you?” Work together as partners to navigate the process. Sex doesn’t have to be about penetration; there’s so much more to explore! Just have fun discovering what works for you now.

2. Make an effort for the other

There were weeks after Noah’s arrival when Duncan and I looked like two nomads who just woke up after a nap on a park bench. It’s the classic new-parent “not getting any sleep for the 5th night in a row” look. And no, during this time in your life, nobody expects you to be dressed to the nines 24/7. But don’t forget to look in the mirror once in a while. Give yourself a little attention and make an effort for each other. You don’t need any extra libido killers. Love is not that blind.

3. Make an appointment

Schedule sex. Before giving birth to Noah, the words alone made me gag. I still prefer the sex that just happens and sweeps you off your feet. But let’s be honest: if you’re a new parent and you’re waiting for the perfect moment to magically get excited, you’ll be waiting forever. Plan a sex date with your partner for a time when you’re sure the baby will be sleeping, or, better yet, when the little one isn’t even around. It takes a true stoic to have an orgasm while your kid is crying in the background.

Scheduled sex might not be the epitome of sexy, but it’s far better than doing nothing for days after weeks after months after… years? Speaking from my experience with “scheduled intimacy,” once we get started, things tend to flow. You might find the same.

4. Don't give up

For months the big O felt more like a big N-O. If, like me, you’re unlucky enough to be dealing with rubbish orgasms, I just want to emphasize: Don’t give up. True mind-blowing orgasms will come back. Getting your body moving can help. Riding a bike works wonders, and, if you’re lucky enough to have the option, riding a horse as well. There are also great tools for training your pelvic floor, the one floor responsible for those lacklustre orgasms.

And last but not least, try masturbating. It might kickstart your sex drive. Remember: things will get better. Trust me.

5. Have everyone do their part

To keep the fun alive as young parents, both partners need to agree on their responsibilities for chores and caretaking. If your partner leaves everything up to you, the chances are slim that you will be all over them in the bedroom, right? Very, very slim.

In many relationships, one partner tends to do it all, quietly asking themselves if their partner is just genuinely blind to what needs to be done. This is particularly prevalent in heterosexual relationships, as caretaking is still often perceived as the responsibility of the female partner. On top of that, the toughest caretaking chores get systematically underestimated.

Therefore, it can be beneficial to write everything down. Estimate the time required for each task and distribute all chores between partners. If your loved one doesn’t understand how challenging one of the tasks is, swap chores for a week or so. Fight your battles if you have to and if they are worth it. In love and great postpartum sex alike, everything is fair—as it should be! You should know that investing time in properly dividing tasks equals investing in your sex life.

6. Find some time together

Besides being parents, you’re still lovers. So, go out without your little bundle of joy now and again. There’s always a way to make it happen. Ask for help from friends and family or hire a paid babysitter if you have the funds to do so. And don’t discourage yourself when you’re feeling tired; chances are, you’ll forget all about it once you’re out.

Duncan’s and my tried-and-tested relationship booster was simply getting out of town for a couple of days. Just two nights out of the house gives you a chance to recharge and enjoy some blessed sleep, while still having a day and night to come. Because, if you ask me, days like these are just perfect for some good ol’ sex.

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