I recently started seeing a married couple for counseling and one of the major issues was about sex. This isn’t uncommon for a couples and sex therapist, of course, but their special twist on the issue was that the wife had given birth to their first child about two months ago.
Her physician had given her the “official” go ahead, her husband felt he had been extremely patient and now he wanted to reconnect with his wife in a sexual way. The new mom, on the other hand, wasn’t so sure she was ready. And so they came to see me for help. What I shared with them is as follows:
This is not an uncommon occurrence for first-time parents and the short answer is to be patient, communicate your feelings and let nature take it’s course. While mom’s body may be healed sufficiently to begin to have sex with her husband again after 6-8 weeks, emotionally it may take longer.
At this point a woman’s energy level and sexual desire will most likely not be up to her usual level. And, her body is changing. It’s changing physically and she may view it emotionally in a different way than before as well.
She may feel more maternal than sexual. Her perception of your breasts may have changed from an erotic zone to a feeding zone. Breastfeeding causes estrogen levels to drop; estrogen affects not only the libido, but also the lining of the vagina, which can became dry, making sex painful. A physician can help you with issues like these.
Add to the physical and emotional changes, the fact that the couple hasn’t been physically intimate, physically connected in that way for quite some time. Be patient with yourselves. It’s okay to take your time in reconnecting. And it’s important to communicate about this.
The husband has most likely been quite patient and wants to reconnect with his wife in one of the ways that he knows how to. Men often are more comfortable connecting with their partners in a physical way than an emotional or verbal way. So, he is probably missing the connection with her as much as he’s missing the sex, maybe even more so.
You must begin to connect on a physical level again, even if it’s not a sexual level. Get back to the physical intimacy and closeness. Touch, kiss, massage, rub each other’s feet, hold each other, cuddle. Create a romantic scenario, even if sex isn’t the goal in that specific moment. Visualize romantic scenes as well, to prime the “pump” of the unconscious.
Be patient. It can take a good three months to two years to get your sex life back to “normal.” And of course, by then you might be thinking of having another child! And it starts all over again!
Bottom line: Communicate! Normalize the experience of just having a baby and know that it takes time to get back into a rhythm. Be realistic. Be realistic, AND make it happen anyway. Make it a priority, if that’s what you choose to do.
I hope that this information has been helpful.
Dr. Adam Sheck