Love & Sex
With all the media attention Kate Middleton received after she finally gave birth, babies are very much the flavour of the month and of course other less famous couples are also becoming first-time parents.
Welcome to new parenthood! Unfortunately the joy of becoming a parent is often cancelled out by losing some of the joy of a healthy and active sex life, which is pretty common. Women are usually bruised, battered and totally wiped out after the birth and instead of having time to recover, they will be breastfeeding and usually won't get much sleep.
It is recommended to wait six weeks after birth to have sex again, but as a guide it is the best to wait for any bleeding to stop first to avoid infections. It is not necessary to wait for the six-week postnatal check-up if you feel healed and interested and you can always check with your doctor first. On the other hand you don't have to rush it if you would like to wait longer.
Men often worry that they will hurt their partners and women worry about their stitches opening up. Some women feel detached from their sexuality through trying to adjust to being a mother, which is quite a normal response to having a new baby.
Caring for a newborn is exhausting and some of the reasons for not feeling like sex are lack of sleep, changing hormone levels, sore or tender stitches and a baby who has problems feeding or has difficulties settling down. Sleep will become your number one priority.
All of these concerns are normal and it is important for couples to talk to each other. Discussing sex with your partner will allow you both to voice your concerns so you can keep feeling connected and it is important for your intimacy. Neither of you is a mind reader.
Until you are ready to have sex, you can maintain intimacy in other ways. Be creative, if penetrative intercourse is difficult, there are many other ways to be sexual; you can start with cuddling, kissing, giving a massage, oral sex or masturbation.
When starting having sex again, hormonal changes might leave your vagina dry and tender, especially while breast feeding. Insufficient lubrication can mean painful sex, water-based lube can solve this problem. Try not to wait until bedtime, consider having sex in the daytime, if possible, when the baby is asleep or a family member or close friend can spend some hours with the baby. It is also important to think of birth control, unless you're planning to have two babies under two.
Losing interest in sex after a baby is pretty common, some women totally lose their sex drive, but most sexual concerns resolve within a year. Of course some couples have issues in their sex lives before having a baby and these can emerge more strongly after the baby is born.
Some women especially do not feel like having sex when they feel let down, unsupported or angry with their partners. Being at home all the time without an external social life can also lead to low self-confidence or depression. Babies bring huge pressure to even the most stable and harmonious couples.
Even when you have time for sex you may not feel like it. The best way to overcome this issue is to concentrate on your physical and mental health. It's important to set reasonable expectations as you try to adjust to parenthood. Rest as much as you can, eat a healthy diet, include physical activity in your daily routine, join a group for new mothers and ask your partner, family and friends for help.
Sex takes work, it doesn't just happen by itself so the couples who prioritise its importance in the relationship tend to be the ones who start having it again.
Also, never forget the power of a "quickie".
There are numerous books with good practical advice on how to reignite your sex life as new parents. So if you are back in the mood but struggling with finding the time, they might be worth a read.
- Sydney Morning Herald
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