Sex journalist Marith Iedema talks about her sex life after having a baby and gives tips on how to prevent your sex life from dying after giving birth. She touches on both the funny and painful moments.
“I had an active, exciting sex and love life when I got pregnant. And I was determined to keep it that way. Unlike most couples, my partner and I weren’t going to end up in a relationship dip. I would show them how to do it. Well, that turned out to be an incredibly self-assured claim. Keeping your love life ‘spicy’ during you pregnancy, or when your new baby – after birth – takes up all your time and energy is no mean feat. And sex after childbirth wasn’t nearly as good as before – something that’s unfortunately true for many women. But I didn’t consider throwing in the towel. I think it’s important to do your very best not to let your sex life fall apart completely. Because especially in this difficult time, your relationship can really use the effects of (good) sex: intimacy, kindness, feeling good about each other.
Sex is the perfect tool for fighting everyday annoyances. It makes you happier, more relaxed, and helps you to be less touchy. You sleep better and produce the ‘happy hormone’: endorphins. Try to avoid falling into a ‘brother-sister relationship’. Don’t think: our sex life will be fine once the kids start school. Because picking up where you left off after a long period without sex is incredibly difficult.”
Tips for getting your sex life back on track after giving birth:
1. Look for what you can do
“It’s completely normal for your sex life to change temporarily. There are women and couples who experience a sexual peak when a new family member enters the picture. But more often than not, it’s a challenge to keep things going in bed. That doesn’t mean you should just leave it at that. Keep talking. Ask questions. What’s going on? How do you feel about it? What do you need? Figure out what works together. How can you help each other? So many people still think of sex just in terms of penetration. But the possibilities are so much greater than that!”
2. Plan the sex. So much for not being romantic!
“Man, a (not-so-easy) baby can be a real obstacle to sex. If you wait for a quiet opportunity to spontaneously feel like sex, you’ll be waiting until you’re blue in the face. So schedule a sex date for a time when you know your baby will be asleep, or better yet, somewhere else (because you have to be pretty focused to have an orgasm with your crying kid in the background). So many people are resistant to scheduled sex because it’s not romantic. True, but anything’s better than not doing it for weeks. That takes you out of the flow. For me, it works – once I get started, I get in the mood.”
3. Make sure there’s a fair division of labor
“If you want to keep things going well as young parents, you both have to feel good about the division of labor. If you feel like it’s lopsided, it’ll start to eat away at you. And that’s a poor breeding ground for the spice you need in your sex life. One standard problem is that women take on all kinds of jobs because men don’t notice them. Another problem is that people also often underestimate the weight of care giving. It’s worth taking a good look at what needs to be done, how much time it takes, and how it can best be divided. If your loved one doesn’t understand how hard a task is, swap. If hard battles must be fought, so be it! One thing is for sure: if you’ve been slaving away all day, with no time for yourself, the chances are very slim that you’ll feel like having sex. Investing in a fair division of the work is an investment in your sex life.”
4. Love isn’t blind
“Looking your best for each other can sometimes fall by the wayside. My boyfriend and I often looked like hobos. Which isn’t surprising when you spend all your time dead tired. It’s okay to let go a little. But every now and then, a critical look in the mirror can’t hurt. It’s hard enough as it is. You don’t need extra libido killers. Love isn’t blind.”
5. Hang in there
“My pelvic floor muscles – which are key to a great orgasm – were ‘completely shot’ by my pregnancy and delivery. Consequence: climaxes that felt like lows. If you’re a member of that unlucky club that has terrible orgasms after childbirth, don’t give up. Don’t write off sex. Work on getting your orgasm back. Exercise as much as possible. Cycling and horseback riding are especially good options. And use the tools that are available. There are all kinds of tools to help strengthen your pelvic floor. And last but not least, keep masturbating, work on your sex drive. Don’t give up, it really does get better.”
6. Make time to be together
“Do things together on a regular basis, without the baby, so that you’ll still be lovers as well as parents. Call in your family and friends or pay a babysitter. You can always arrange something. Don’t ignore it because you’re tired. You’ll get over that. The very best relationship boost my boyfriend and I got was going away together for a few days. Sleeping somewhere else for two nights allows you to recover and sleep in, then you have an incredibly relaxing day and evening ahead of you. They’re the perfect conditions for good, old-fashioned sex.”