One of my friends was complaining that sex has become very scarce after his son was born,and that he gets angry with his wife because of this. I understand his frustration,and that is why I wrote this article, to explain a few of the reasons why people stop making love or why they make love less after becoming parents and how this can be changed:
1. To most women, having a baby is not easy
Conception, pregnancy, birth, C-section, and breastfeeding can be physically, mentally and emotionally demanding. Carrying a baby for 9 months is not an easy thing. If you don’t believe me, try carrying 10-20 kg non-stop (the extra weight most women gain during pregnancy) and see what it feels like.
Giving birth is physically traumatizing to many women because of the pain, long labors, the tearing that may occur in the perineum or because doctors perform episiotomies (which I think would become unnecessary if, among other things, women gave birth in a normal position, not in the unnatural one that is used now, and if they were given enough time to dilate naturally).
There also is an emotional aspect to this: birth can be a scary experience – there might be a lot of fear going on: What if something happens to the baby during birth? What if it hurts badly? What if I can’t give birth naturally and I need to have a C-section? What if there are complications during the C-section? What if there is something wrong with the baby? These are just a few thoughts that may run through a woman’s mind.
There’s also the aspect of abuse by the medical staff. More than one woman has had bad experience with nurses or doctors while giving birth: they were yelled at, called demeaning names, not asked for consent when it came to various procedures (like episiotomies), pressured into agreeing to procedures (such as C-sections), even though they didn’t want them.
What to do:
If you are a man and you are reading this, know that your partner needs help.
Once she comes home with the baby, she might already be physically exhausted or have been through trauma. Do the dishes, clean the house (or hire someone to clean it), change diapers, take the baby out – There is a saying that “it takes a village to raise a child”, so how can just one woman do all of that by herself?
Be supportive and understand that her body needs time to recover. There are many things happening on a hormonal level that simply take time in order to rebalance.
Ask her what she needs. You might be surprised that it is easier than you thought to put a smile on her face when she feels like crying because she is tired or stressed.
Tell her she is a good mother. Many women think they are not good mothers. Remind her that she doesn’t need to be perfect, she is enough just the way she is.
Even though penetrative sex may not be possible right after the birth, you can still enjoy physical intimacy by touching, hugging, kissing, massaging, or performing any other types of touches that make you feel good.
If the woman wants and feels ok with this, she can stimulate her partner manually or orally. However, don’t pressure her! If you do this, she will feel constrained, and this will put distance between the two of you. You can also use this period to create more emotional intimacy with your partner: talk to her, take care of the things she needs done, bring her gifts, spend time with her.
2. Not all men know how to be fathers
And this is ok, it is something they can learn. Although babies do not have the mental capacity to understand many things (which can be frustrating to some men who live in their head a lot and are disconnected from their emotions), they can pick up on emotions and energies.
A 2018 Swiss study found that babies can distinguish emotions in adults based on both facial expressions, and voices. Within the first six months, babies can distinguish emotions like happiness, sadness and anger. The study found that babies have a natural preference for happy faces and voices, especially before 6 months of age. When they grow past 6 months, they can distinguish even more emotions beyond the basic ones.
This means that although you may have the best intentions, if you are not in a good mood, the baby might start crying or be fussy because she feels that you don’t feel ok (e.g. you’ve had a stressful day at work).
This can make some fathers avoid spending time with the baby, simply because they don’t know how to interact with her, how to hold the baby, what to do if she cries or if she’s hungry. Because of this, some women get angry with their partners, so they stop having sex because they think the man doesn’t love the baby or is not interested in helping out.
What to do:
If you are a woman and you are reading this, know that your partner needs help.
Have patience with your partner and show him what to do and how to do it. He will most likely not have read the tens of books you read (because he preferred to work more in order make more money to buy a bigger house or things for the baby), but this doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to help you with the baby.
He might simply not know how to do that. This is something new to him, too.
3. The child becomes a priority and the relationship is put on hold
This happens in many couples, and to a certain extent, it’s ok. To many people, a child is a blessing, and it is normal to want to spend a lot of time with him or her, to fall in love with the baby so hard, that you forget about yourself or your partner, to take advantage of the months and years when your child is so tiny and cute. However, when pushed to the extreme for a long period of time, this becomes toxic, both to the couple, and the baby.
What to do: Prioritize your relationship
This doesn’t mean leaving the baby unattended or in the care of other people for a long time. It just means understanding that your relationship existed before the baby. If I were to compare family with a tree, I would say that the baby is the fruit, the trunk is the relationship of the two partners, and the roots are represented by the relationship that each of you has with herself/himself. Consequently, make time for the two of you even if during the first few months this may mean spending only 3 hours per week together. The important thing is the quality of the time spent, and not so much the quantity.
Next week I will provide 3 more solutions to help you have sex again after the baby’s birth.
Please subscribe to my newsletter to get notified when I post the article.