Postpartum Sex – How to keep things going after giving birth

Before she became pregnant, sex journalist Marith Ledema described her love life as active and exciting. And – newborn or not – she was determined to keep it that way. 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 in and try to relax. We knew having a baby would be tiring, but being so stressed out all of the time was the real surprise, and not a great 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 loud – and clear!

I look at Duncan and take his hand in mine. We give each other a tired smile. I pose a question to him: ‘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 as it used to before ‘project baby’. No surprise there. After giving birth, it hasn’t been that pleasant to come. If I want to go back to the good old days of climaxing (and I want to) those worn-out pelvic floor muscles of mine need to get a workout. But, good grief, like 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 rather opt for a nice 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. But Duncan is persistent. But at last, my hormonal and sleep-deprived 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 & pussy blocker.

I care!

‘My love life will remain just as hot’, is what I shouted from the rooftop when I got pregnant. I thought that unlike other couples, Duncan and I wouldn’t get into a relational rut. We would show the other new parents how it was done!

In retrospect, I was suffering from a clear case of overconfidence. Because after Noah was born, there wasn’t much left of the ‘old me’. The ‘old me’ was a woman that always loved to experiment and was always up for a little something. Under these new circumstances, I had changed, as most women do, confirms sex therapist Eveline Stallaart. Eveline regularly sees couples that struggle with postpartum sex and haven’t been intimate since the baby was born. 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!’’

But… well… I care about the sex!

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 having (good) sex; intimacy, forgiveness, and connection. Sex can be the cure for those day-to-day frustrations. It makes you happy, relaxed, and less aggravated. It leads to a better night’s rest, and while you are 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 disagree. I believe it’s harder to relight a fire when it is extinguished for a long time than when there is still something smoldering underneath the ashes. So I will not do this ‘waiting’ plan. No thought in my mind considers giving sex up. It isn’t easy, it will have ups and downs. I truly believe that Duncan and I will avert the looming distinguishing 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 learnt:

1. Accept the fact that things have changed 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: It’s normal. It’s part of the “deal”. Some women and couples blossom sexually when a new family member joins the household. However, more often than not, new parents find themselves having a hard time keeping things going in the bedroom. That doesn’t mean you should just throw in the towel, It’s not a burping cloth. Continue to have conversations. Ask questions like: What’s going on with you? What are your needs? How can I help you? Find a way to make this process work together as partners. People often only have sex with penetration. But there’s so much more! Just have fun discovering what works for you now.

2. Make an effort for the other

There were weeks after having Noah that 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, no one 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 the other. You don’t need any extra libido killers. Love is not THAT blind.

3. Make an appointment

Schedule sex. The words alone made me gag before giving birth to Noah. I still prefer the sex that just happens and sweeps you off your feet. But let’s be honest here: 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 when you’re sure the baby will be sleeping. Or, even better, when the little one isn’t around. You would have to be 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 for myself, on behalf of ‘scheduled sex’, once we go, things eventually start to flow. You might be the same.

4. Don't give up

For months the big O (orgasm) felt more like a big NO. And if you’re unlucky like me, and you’re experiencing rubbish orgasms as well, I just want to say don’t give up. You will get your mind-blowing orgasms back. It helps to get your body moving. Riding a bike works wonders. And riding a horse as well, if you’re lucky enough to have the option. There are also great tools to train your pelvic floor, the one floor responsible for those lackluster orgasms.

 

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

5. Have everyone do their part

When you want to keep things fun as a young parent, both partners need to agree on their responsibilities when it comes to chores and caretaking. When your partner leaves everything up to you, the chances are slim that you will be all over them in the bedroom, right? Or have time too! 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 happens particularly 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 worthwhile to write everything down. Estimate how much time each task takes and divided 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, everything is and should be fair! You should know that investing time in properly dividing tasks equals to investing in your sex life.

6. Find some time together

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

Duncan and I’s 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, get some blessed sleep, and then you still have 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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