New Parents and Sex

Your baby's arrived, safe and healthy, great cause for celebration. But you should know that experts pinpoint this event as the one that places the most strain on a relationship. When you think about it, there should be no surprise. The new mother is exhausted. She's developing mothering skills she may have only read about before. First babies are a challenge – they can be colicky and demanding. If she's going back to work, then organizing child care is a big hurdle. With all this going on, what if her partner expects the sort of sex life that led to the pregnancy in the first place? She may feel like there's just one more person to service, one more person with needs and demands that are keeping her from much-needed sleep.

New mothers can find sex unappealing for reasons both physical and emotional. If you're breastfeeding, your breasts are sore, heavy and leaky. Your body just doesn't feel sexy, with its stretch marks, cellulite, dark nipples and dark line down the abdomen, not to mention the weight gain and varicose veins. Then there is lochia, the discharge after the birth, which lasts for 3 to 4 weeks and does not smell very good. If you had an episiotomy, the stitches are very uncomfortable and you may worry about infection. Your hormones may still be in a state of flux, so you feel moody or depressed. And you may not have a good method of birth control, so sex is the last thing on your mind!

Some doctors recommend that new mothers refrain from sex until their first post partum examination, usually about 6 weeks after the birth.

Couples aren't warned about all this, you're totally unprepared. If you can't talk about it, there may be trouble ahead. Many males firmly believe that once the baby is born, their sex life will go right back to how it was pre-pregnancy. This is unrealistic, and it puts pressure on both partners.

New fathers can help their partner move beyond those feelings of sexual disinterest by being a very involved parent and helping around the house.

Many new mothers are quite happy to perform manual stimulation and oral-genital sex until they are feeling sexual again. And many males will be quite happy masturbating until their partner is ready to resume sexual intercourse.

Touching, hugging, kissing and snuggling are important for both, but remember, there should be no expectation that it will inevitably end up in sex.

It takes time, patience and understanding to return to a normal, intimate, loving partnership after your first baby is born. Check your bookstore or library for books on this subject – there are some good ones that can help you navigate these challenges. I've listed some of my favourites on this web site.