Nothing changes your sex life quite like having a baby. As a sex therapist, I can say that one of the most common reasons that clients seek out my services is because they are struggling to re-establish sexual pleasure after having a baby. That is why the latest episode of my podcast ‘The Language of Love” is all about finding passion and pleasure after having a baby (listen to the episode here, but keep reading because I cover different tips below).
Anytime you undergo stress, financial burdens, illness, or a major life change, you’re likely to experience changes to your sleep, diet, and of course, your sex life. And having a baby combines all of these into one! Of course, pregnancy and childbirth aren’t illnesses, but they can be highly taxing to the body and require medical support and even interventions, not to mention recovery time (which can be complicated when you’re trying to care for a new baby at the same time).
So, it’s no wonder that new parents can lose that lovin’ feeling after they bring the baby home.
And not only are you dealing with the physical symptoms of childbirth recovery, the stress of bringing home a newborn, and lack of sleep, but your hormones are all over the place.
And, no, I don’t just mean women: Research has shown that new fathers also experience significant hormone changes. In the months following the birth of a child, a dad’s testosterone levels take a dive (about a 30% decrease).
Why is this?
The answer is probably largely biological. Women experience hormonal shifts during pregnancy and after childbirth in order to ensure that they remain close and bonded with their baby (for example, oxytocin, the “bonding” chemical is released in the brain during breastfeeding in order to help establish the crucial bond between mom and baby). It’s in the best interest of our species for parents to be deeply connected with their children, especially their helpless infants, because this ensures that they will take good care of the child until he grows into a self-sufficient adult. In those early days of mankind, involved and caring parents were crucial in order to ensure that children could grow and thrive.
All of this could help explain why dads undergo hormonal changes as well.
I find that when I tell new moms about these hormonal changes that dads can experience, they often have a look of relief on their faces. For many women, when their partner seems distant or not as amorous after childbirth, they assume it’s because he is no longer attracted to them or because they think their bodies don’t look or feel the same during intimacy. So, to find out that there is an actual evolutionary reason for why new moms and dads might BOTH have less interest in sex, and that this is normal and okay, can be a big relief.
But, of course, as a sex therapist, I still think that sex and physical connection are really important. I know that an unsatisfactory sex life is one of the leading reasons for why couples end up splitting, and I also know that with just a few tweaks and intentional focus, many couples can reset their sex lives and find pleasure once again, even after having a baby.
So how can you keep your sexual connection intact when you have a new baby (or babies!) at home:
· Find some way to keep touching each other. Now, you both may be super touched-out right now (especially mom, and especially if she is breastfeeding). But it’s so hard to re-light that physical flame once it has completely gone out, and it’s much easier if you just keep those flames stoked a little bit. You don’t need a roaring fire: But you don’t want the flames to completely get put out. So, even if it means cuddling each other for a few minutes while the baby is asleep or holding hands when you go for a walk with the stroller, find some way to keep touching each other.
· Set reminders on your phone to kiss your partner. I know this might sound weird at first, but if you’re an exhausted new parent you probably know by now, if it doesn’t get written down or scheduled, you’re going to forget it. So, I want you to set a reminder on your phone to kiss your partner once a day, preferably for at least 10 seconds or even more. A full mouth, passionate kiss is a relatively quick way to briefly connect in a sexual way with your partner, even if you don’t have the time or energy for more than that.
· Masturbate together. No time or energy for intercourse? That’s totally understandable. But what about masturbation? You may find that you do have energy for that. But rather than masturbating alone in separate rooms, try mutual masturbation in which you masturbate together. I know this may feel totally taboo and intimidating, but you might also find that it feels really erotic and sensual. Plus, it will give you a front row seat into finding out what types of touches and strokes your partner desires.
· Quick and dirty is more than good enough. When you do have 10 minutes to yourselves, don’t let the opportunity pass. Don’t put off sex because the living room isn’t picked up or because you didn’t shave for a few days. If you look for excuses for why it’s not the right time for sex, you’re always going to find then. So, look instead for the reasons why now IS a good time for sex, like the baby is asleep, you’re together, you’re feeling good, and you have time for a quickie, so why not? Not every sexual experience needs to have bells and whistles and pretty lingerie. All you really need is each other, and just a little bit of privacy and time alone.
· Bring the energy you want to see into the relationship. Many times, women can struggle to feel desirable after having a baby. They may not like the changes they see in the mirror or they may worry that their bodies won’t feel as good to their partner. So, they give off insecure energy that their partner often reads as “Stay away.” It becomes a vicious cycle: She pulls away because she is not feeling good about herself, he pulls away because he thinks she doesn’t want him, and she senses him pull away which reaffirms the ‘fact’ in her mind that she is not desirable.
Do you see how our energy can really attract certain experiences into our reality? By assuming we aren’t sexy or desirable, we give off those low vibrations of insecurity and shame, and in turn that energy comes right back to us as our partners are our ‘tuning forks’ that will almost always end up vibing at our same level. So if you want your relationship vibe to be positive, passionate, and desiring, you need to check whether that is the energy you are putting into your relationship. You have the power to create the relationship you desire, but it’s not just going to fall into your lap: You have to be the one who creates the energy and makes room for that possibility in your world.
If you want to hear more of my advice about how to reclaim your sexual pleasure after having a baby, check out my latest episode from my podcast “The Language of Love” here.