You knew that having a baby would change your life in all sorts of amazing ways — but what you may not have expected when expecting were the effects a tiny new family member would have on your sex life. For starters, many health care providers recommend that women wait four to six weeks before even trying to have intercourse again, and even when you’ve been given the green light, you may be feeling too tired or uncomfortable with your postpartum body to jump back into bed for anything but sleep.
The good news is that these issues tend to resolve themselves in short order. But that’s when the biggest challenge of all often manifests. When are you supposed to find time for sex? It may require some adjustments and ingenuity, but it can be done.
Ease Back into It
Hormonal changes during and after pregnancy can cause vaginal dryness — particularly if you’re breastfeeding — and sex may be uncomfortable after delivery anyway. That’s why experts suggest that couples begin with gentle cuddling and kissing, and slowly build back up to intercourse. Lubricants, including K-Y® products, can help with dryness, and trying out new positions may be necessary to find the ones that are most comfortable (woman on top and side-by-side are two good possibilities). Also remember: unless you’re hoping to get pregnant again, use protection.
Save the Date
Scheduling sex may not sound very romantic, but it tends to be necessary when you’re new parents. For most couples — particularly if one or both partners are working during the day — the ideal time for sex will often be when the baby sleeps for the longest stretch at night. Or, perhaps you can drop your little one off with a family member, friend or neighbor or have a sitter take him on an outing at a set time each week so you can have an hour or two to rekindle the fire.
Make it Fast
Long, leisurely, all-day sessions may be a thing of the past for a while, so now’s the time to embrace the quickie. If you tend to be too tired for any sort of action at the end of the day, try squeezing in a speedy romp early in the morning — either during baby’s AM nap or even before he wakes up. Eventually, you’ll find opportunities to spend longer stretches of time together but until then, seize every precious moment for as long as it may last.
Now is the perfect time to remind yourselves that intimacy isn’t just about connecting physically, but about the way you look at each other, how you communicate — all the little things you do to show you care. Romantic gestures like sending a text message, leaving a note on the kitchen counter or pillow or simply calling to say you’re thinking about each other all add up to a closer connection — one that only stands to get stronger now that you’re building a family together.
Alexa Joy Sherman is a journalist and editor who has contributed to national magazines including "Family Circle," "Fit Pregnancy," "Fitness," "Parents," "Woman’s Day" and "Women’s Health." She is also the published author of several nonfiction books for adults, as well as a fiction series for young adults.