I CONTINUE receiving messages from women and men complaining that their sex life has turned from good to bad, from high to low, ever since the little one was born. Most think that this is a rare occurrence that is affecting them alone.
It is not. It is very common for couples to find having a baby seems to spell the end of a passionate sex life, but help is available. I’m mostly going to talk to the new mum herself here, but obviously the information is just as relevant for you if you are the new father and feeling very rejected.
Why do new mothers so often lose their sex drive? It is so common I reckon, in part it is nature’s form of contraception to make sure we don’t have our babies too close together.
Nature doesn’t know we have invented the condom and the pill — but you do, and must make sure that worrying about another pregnancy is not damping down sex drive.
Giving birth leaves many women pretty sore down below. Trying to make love too soon, perhaps to please your partner, can both cause some pain in itself, and make you more tense next time.
Lubricants like KY Jelly, Vielle or Sensilube can help ease discomfort but are no substitute for loving foreplay and really feeling aroused. You and your partner can always find ways other than intercourse to give one another pleasure that avoid any tender spot until it recovers.
If you are still finding intercourse uncomfortable by the time of your post-natal check at six weeks, though, you must tell the doctor.
Hormonal changes after childbirth may be responsible for short-lived baby blues, and can also play a part in causing longer-lasting depression, very often associated with loss of interest in sex.
The hormonal balance should right itself quite quickly but, if you are suffering from depression and loss of sex drive at the time of your six-week post-natal check, tell the doctor that too.
If you are still feeling low three months or more after the birth, get help through your doctor or visit a counsellor for advice and support.
Another physical cause for loss of interest in sex can be exhaustion. Giving birth and looking after a baby is extremely tiring. It is very common for mothers to find they don’t sleep more than four hours without interruption for months on end.
It can all feel overwhelming.
Look after yourself. Let the housework stay undone. Have an afternoon nap while the baby sleeps.
It will help in two ways if the baby’s father joins in as much as possible with the childcare and sharing the chores. For one thing he will be more understanding because he will realise that it really is tiring. For another, sharing the care for the baby is known to help new fathers build up a relationship with their child.
So he should not feel it is unmanly to join in — especially if it is going to help you to have more energy to be loving.
Of course, you do need to confide in your husband or partner. You are guaranteed to make the problem more serious and long-lived if you are afraid to tell him how you are feeling, make excuses to go to bed before or after him, lie there worrying whether he will make an approach, and how you will feel if he does.
It helps if you both realise that it is probably only a short-lived difficulty, because if one or both of you takes it to be a serious lasting problem, that makes you worry, and the worry in itself does make it a long-term problem.
It’s a vicious circle.
Most mothers find that their baby’s cry switches on an internal alarm system, which instantly switches off any other feelings, including sexiness.
Just because you usually made love at your normal bedtime, don’t try to stick to this routine after the birth if you find this is a time when your baby is usually ready to wake for a feed.
You are most likely to get a spell for uninterrupted pleasuring and love-making if you start as soon as you are sure the baby is settled after a feed and a change, even if this is in the early evening or during a weekend afternoon.
If you still have not recovered your interest in sex months after the birth, this may be because you have avoided any form of love-making because you didn’t feel like intercourse, and this has hindered the return of your sexual appetite.
Our sexual interest tends to grow the more it is stimulated, and dies down if it receives no stimulation. Kissing, cuddling and caressing, without at first being under pressure to have intercourse if we do not feel like it, can get the hormones whizzing around the bloodstream again.
Quite often though, sex-life problems after childbirth are actually rooted in sexual or relationship difficulties which were present before the baby, but lay hidden.
If you suspect this type of problem, the first way to help yourselves is to try to talk through your feelings, worries and resentments with one another. If that proves too difficult, then get expert help.
Occasionally, being a father has a most unexpected effect on the man — he is the one who runs into sexual problems.
For example, if he has been brought up to think of sex as something rather dirty and wicked, and to idealise motherhood, he may find it impossible to see his wife, the mother of his child, as a partner for sex.
He may then suffer from erection problems or premature ejaculation.
The best way to get back in the groove is to seek help, to communicate, and to make time for each other. Hire a nanny, ask a relative to look after your baby for a few hours and go out with your partner. Do the things you used to do before the baby came around, in no time the sex drive will return.
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