So, many couples experience a lull in sexual activity after the birth of a baby. They’re busy with nursing, waking up all hours of the night, holding babies, consoling babies, changing stinky diapers, washing babies, etc. Raising an infant is like a full time job. Then in addition to parent duties with the little one(s), you still have all the responsibilities of ‘adulting’; you gotta work, gotta cook, gotta clean, gotta maintain the car, gotta try to have a social life… so it’s easy sometimes to forget about sex.
The sexologist in me feels the need to clarify. Intimacy ≠ sex! I’ll say it again for the people in the cheap seats, intimacy ≠ sex! Sure sex can be a form of intimacy depending on how you look at it but just because you’re getting it in with someone doesn’t mean you’re being intimate. In my opinion, sex without connection feels like I’m selling myself short and I’m not with that. Having said that, no judgment from this end! I am definitely #ProHoe and encourage people to responsibly do what they want with their own bodies. You like it, I love it. Intimacy involves a vulnerability, letting someone see who you are without all the pomp and circumstance, feeling like you can be your true self and knowing that will be received. It’s not always easy to get to that space with someone but hopefully, if you’re in a relationship and decided to have a child with someone, there is a level of intimacy you’re comfortable with.
So post baby, you may have a level of intimacy that involves physical contact (e.g hugging, kisses, snuggling, etc.) and you may feel super close to your partner BUT… you might not actually be having sex. This isn’t the case for everyone but honestly, sex has been the furthest thing from my mind. We don’t have the daughters we lost to tend to… in place of that, we have grief and loss. We have sadness, tears and feelings of emptiness. We have the struggle to help us find a new normal. I have all the trauma of the birth experience and literally having someone’s entire hand in my vagina. No shade to fisting but that’s not my thing so that was NOT pleasant for me. Between the prolonged bleeding after giving birth to my girls, the feelings of sadness & depression that had (and sometimes still has) my serotonin and dopamine levels all whacky, the milk that was still coming out of my breasts and a host of other things I won’t mention here, having sex almost felt like an insult to what we just experienced. Thankfully my wife is amazing and there’s never any pressure but I notice the lack of that kind of intimacy and want to change it. I’m going to give you (and myself because the therapist & sexologist that doesn’t practice what they preach is a hypocrite) a list of 7 things you can try to help get the intimacy back between you and your partner.
- Don’t pressure yourself or your partner – you’ve experienced a loss. On top of that, you have possibly had some major trauma happen to your genital region whether you birthed your baby(ies) vaginally or had a c-section. Also, you’re likely still grieving so take the time you need to feel ready to be touched in a sexual way. It may take a while and know that it is ok to move at your own pace. If you’re rearing to go but your partner isn’t, see the next suggestion.
- Masturbate – I know this is personal preference so don’t do things you’re not comfortable with but if you’re open to exploring, masturbate. Spend some time with yourself without the pressure of another person and do things that feel good. Whether you reach orgasm or not is not the point here. It’s really just about getting your body used to and receptive to sexual stimulation again. Right now, the skin memory in that area may only know the touches or pressures from doctors, midwives or nurses, or even babies being born so giving yourself some time to create new (or revisit old) sensations is a good idea.
- Spend time together with physical touch without sexual touch – I LOVE massages! Give your partner a massage or request one. My suggestion is to get the massage within the context of your relationship rather than your local membership spot. Go full body, use scented oils, put on music, light some candles, spend at least an hour. It’s important to again revisit and create new sensation memories around being touched. It builds intimacy and might make a great sexual experience closer than you think.
- Talk about the changes in your relationship – communication is key! I’ll say this again for the people in the cheap seats too, COMMUNICATION IS KEY! Sometimes we think if we mention something, our partner will either start obsessing about it or it will start a fight. Of course I can’t guarantee that won’t happen because some people are petty like that HOWEVER, it’s still indicative that it needs to be discussed. Your relationship has changed, your body has changed, your mind has changed. It’s important to acknowledge that and talk about what this means moving forward.
- Go away – take a trip somewhere if you can. Go somewhere local, go farther away if you have the funds to do so. Even try just spending the weekend in a hotel in your area if you can. Changing the scenery and the environment can really help to get you out of the routine of grieving in your house. You’re not going to forget about losing your baby(ies) but it may help to give you a reset button so to speak. A new memory in which to create a new experience.
- Watch porn – again, personal preference but if you’re into it, porn is designed to arouse. Identify the kind of pornography you might be interested in (because all porn isn’t created equal) and watch some. Maybe do this with your partner, maybe do it in conjunction with masturbation, maybe just watch it to re-expose yourself to sexual stimulation as your thoughts likely have been consumed with your loss. There is a HUGE variety of pornography and there’s a good bit that can be accessed for free so do some exploring and get those juices flowing (pun intended ;-)).
- Go on dates – be romantic with your partner. Sometimes when we’ve been with someone for a while, we stop dating. We stop doing the things that made us feel very much like a couple or special or desired or desirable. So take some time to get dressed up, look your best, go have dinner at a nice place, do a fun & romantic outing that you’ve been talking about doing, go to a show, hold hands, whatever floats your boat. Just do it and do it with the intention of romancing your partner and allowing yourself to be romanced. Sometimes just the act of getting dressed up for a special evening with BAE can spark feelings that may have been sleeping.
I hope this helps you get to a place you want to be and if you have tried something else that worked, please share it below and help some other folx out!