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Sex Life After Pregnancy

Before she got pregnant, sex journalist Marith Iedema described her love life as active and exciting. And – new-born or not – she was determent 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

Before she got pregnant, sex journalist Marith Iedema described her love life as active and exciting. And – new-born 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? 

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 the time, that was quite the 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.
‘Do you remember how we had sex on the floor, against the kitchen counters, here on this couch spontaneously?’
We both laugh. Making 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. 

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 my 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 vanquish. 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. And at last, after a while, 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!

I shouted it from the rooftop when I got pregnant: My love life will remain just as hot! Unlike other couples, Duncan and I wouldn’t get into a relational rut. We would show them 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’. That woman that loved to experiment; that was always in for a little something. Under these new circumstances, I had changed. As most women do, confirms sex therapist Eveline Stallaart. She regularly sees couples that struggle with postpartum sex and haven’t been intimate since the baby was born. Eveline: ‘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 all brought me!’

But… well… I care!

Like brother and sister

I believe it’s so worth it to work your ass off to maintain a great sex life when you have a child. Especially in hard times like these, your relationship benefits from all the things we gain from having (good) sex: intimacy, forgivingness, 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, your endorphins. 

I often hear people say: ‘We get back to having sex once they’re in school.’ And I disagree. It’s harder to relight a fire when extinguished for a long time than when there is still something smouldering underneath the ashes. So, no. No thought in my mind considers giving up. It isn’t easy, but with ups and downs, Duncan and I will avert the looming brother and sister dynamic. 

How do you survive a sexual dry spell as new parents? This is what I learned about postpartum sex – by doing.

Accept the fact that things have changed. And face your feelings.

My sex life changed drastically during pregnancy and the months after giving birth. And 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. But 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. What’s going on with you? What are your needs? Find a way to make this process work – together as partners. How can I help you? People often use sex as a synonym for penetration. But there’s so much more! Just have fun discovering what works for you now. 

Make an effort for the other

There were weeks after having Noah, Duncan and I looked like two nomads who just woke up after a nap on a park bench every single day. 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 every now and then. 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. 

Make an appointment

Scheduled sex. The words alone made me gag before giving birth to Noah. And I still prefer the sex that just happens and sweeps you off your feed. 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. Having an orgasm while your kid is crying in the background? You must be a true stoic to make that happen.  

No, scheduled sex might not be the epitome. But it’s far better than doing nothing for days after weeks after months after… years? That’s when you get out of it. And, speaking for myself, once we go, things eventually start to flow. You might be the same. 

Don't give up

For months the big O felt more like a big NO. And if you’re unlucky like me, you’re experiencing – plainly said – 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 responsible for these lacklustre orgasms.

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

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 you’re 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. 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. Make an estimation of 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, all is fair! Okay, not all… But know that investing time in properly dividing tasks equals investing in your sex life.

Find some time together

Besides being parents, you’re still lovers too. So go out without that little bundle of yours every now and so often. 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 is 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. Literally. Because, if you ask me, days like these are just perfect for some good ol’ sex. 

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