It’s a very familiar experience to hear new parents lamenting how having kids “ruined their sex life”. It can be daunting to hear when considering having a child or being a new parent yourself. And the reality is, yes having a kid will change your sex life, but the change doesn’t have to be bad. Sex and new parenthood can coexist!
Why is sex different in new parenthood?
One reason sex changes in new parenthood is simply because the mother’s body has changed significantly throughout pregnancy and birth. Very often people struggle to view their bodies as sexual, or their bodies feel uncomfortable or foreign to them. There is a lot of pressure to look or feel a certain way when engaging in sex. However, after pregnancy and birth, the body needs time to recover. First and foremost, the body needs to heal.
Most doctors will say you need to wait 6 weeks before having penetrative sex (listen to your doctors as this is to prevent infection). However, you should wait as long as your body needs to heal, if you are experiencing pain or discomfort, be patient and communicate with your provider. The amount of time your body needs will be dependent in part on how your birth went. Additionally, if you are craving to feel desired and sexual again, other forms of sex such as oral or manual can be available.
New roles can desexualize you
Another reason sex shifts as a new parent is because you are taking on a new role in your life, one that is about caretaking and highly desexualized. As newborns require a significant amount of care it can be difficult to connect with your adult or sexual self. It can be helpful to find time to engage in the adult activities you enjoyed prior to having a child, this can be engaging in your hobbies, getting meals with friends, keeping up with the news, having a date night, or engaging in self-pleasure.
However, one of the biggest challenges new parents face when it comes to sex is simply fatigue. It’s a reality all parents face, you are going to be sleep-deprived. The body can struggle to become sexual when its basic needs aren’t being met. Prioritize eating good meals, drinking water, and getting what sleep you can. Some of this will self-remedy with time as your baby sleeps better and transitions to a less demanding routine.
Being a new parent is a demanding new role with lots of transitions along the way. If sex is important to you, it can be helpful to get comfortable with scheduling intimacy. Creating protected time for you and your partner can be very sexy and allow you the space to step into intimacy. You might not need to schedule intimacy forever, but it can be a useful tool when life has many competing priorities, and you might find it can be more fun than you think.
Sex and new parenthood need flexibility
Lastly, as a new parent, you are often following along with the development of your child. Your sleep and routine adapt to their needs. So allow your intimate life to be flexible and adaptive as well. Communicate with your parents about your needs regularly. In early new parenthood, you may need to prioritize other forms of sex outside of penetration. In later parenthood with a toddler, you might find yourself over-touched and need more physical space before intimacy.
Physical needs changing is not necessarily a sign that something is wrong. Instead, it can be a cue to be curious and collaborate on how to meet your needs. If you can communicate with curiosity and compassion you’ll be able to ride the waves of intimacy and new parenthood. And if you find yourself struggling, working with a therapist can be useful support.
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