6 Reasons Sex Is a Struggle After Giving Birth
It’s fairly common for new parents to struggle sexually—here's what you can do.
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All parents—whether biological, adoptive, or those who employed assisted reproductive technology—will be challenged by copious amounts of unrelenting exhaustion.
We aren’t at our best when we’re stressed and sleep-deprived, especially when it comes to interpersonal communication. We become short-tempered and easily frustrated with our partners and that’s just not sexy.
What You Can Do: It bears repeating—support is critical during this time, and you’ll need all that you can get. See What You Can Do No. 1, snag a bit of rest wherever you can, and let go of whatever is not absolutely necessary. Then, set aside a few minutes every day to sit with your partner and engage positively. Really hear one another, really listen. Everyone is getting used to this new normal, so don’t forget one another in the process. As soon as you are able, plan a date (even if just for a half hour to start). You’ll need time to reconnect romantically on a regular basis.
Adjustment to parenthood is epic in just about every way.
There is no other life event that triangulates colossal exhaustion, utter cluelessness, and the weighty responsibility of keeping another human alive the way that parenting does.
What You Can Do: Make parent friends! It’s comforting to be around others who are sharing your experience, especially a herculean one like this. And give yourself time to adjust. You are transitioning into an important new role—it’s a process, so be kind to yourself. If none of this helps and you feel as though you are floundering, seek out a professional counselor who can offer support and guidance.
Of course, no matter how you slice it, any new parent might say to their initiating partner, “Sex? Now? You’ve got to be kidding.”
Before you put sex on the back burner indefinitely, try a little reframing. Having a little one can change your sex life for the better once you get your bearings. For instance, when you’re ready, change might translate to creative thinking, as in “let’s do it on the kitchen table ‘cause that’s hot (and we won’t wake the baby who’s asleep in another room),” or it could mean that you work The Quickie back in to the repertoire, or maybe you’ll be inspired to buy some toys that are just meant for the grown-ups! If you’re lucky and have trusted family members with whom you can leave the little one, change of scenery can be one of the best changes of all.
Obviously, all of the above will require some planning, and even when you do plan, babies don’t always cooperate. Just when you think you’ve nailed down their nap specs—BAM! HA! No sex for you!
So, just as in every other aspect of parenting, flexibility is key. Take things slowly, use lots of lube, manage expectations, and find your way.
Treating any sexual health issue requires trusted clinical guidance, self-compassion, and patience. If you are facing fatigue, lack of arousal, stress, pelvic pain, or communication problems with your partner after birth, don’t sweep it under the rug (because you’re not going to have much time to sweep up much of anything). Reach out for help. Qualified professionals can help you get back on track when you are ready both physically and emotionally. After all, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy your new addition and a satisfying sex life!