As promised, I will continue the article I started last week. Here are some other reasons why couples have less sex after their baby is born, and what you can do about that.
1. The man is experiencing “new dad panic”
A new baby can come like a shock to some men, considering they don’t have the same type of physical and emotional connection that the mothers have with the baby (it is the mother who carries the baby, who feels her kicking, who has morning sickness etc). Because of this, sometimes men become jealous of all the attention their wife is showering the baby with, and sad about the loss of physical intimacy, but they don’t know how to express that. Also, as providers, they are often worried about the financial aspect, for which they feel solely responsible. They may be bewildered by the amount of work it takes to tend to the baby, for whom they may not have the same fascination that the mother has. Many new fathers respond by withdrawing from the family and working even more than before the baby.
What to do?
Understand one another: If you are a new dad, become aware of what you are feeling and of how these make emotions you act. If you are the mother, avoid attacking and criticizing your partner. I know you may feel abandoned and neglected, but becoming aggressive is not the solution. Both of you may feel frustrated, so the best thing is to express these things by creating a safe space in which each one of you can communicate honestly what he/she feels.
Decide on a day of the week when you can sit together and discuss the things that you feel stressed about, and express fondness and admiration for each other. This is what world-renowned couples’ therapists John and Julie Gottman recommend to couples in order to cultivate a deeper connection and intimacy. And what do connection and intimacy lead to? Sex.
2. One partner identifies himself/herself only with the role of “the parent”
We play various roles in our lives: man, woman, son, daughter, friend, entrepreneur, employee, mother, father. What happens in the case of some people is that they start identifying themselves so much with some roles, that they can no longer play other roles.
For example, after giving birth, a woman can become so overwhelmed by her new role as “mother”, that she can’t see herself as a woman or as a lover anymore. And this can take a toll on the relationship with her partner. If a woman only sees herself as a mother or she has a subconscious limiting belief that the roles of mother and lover are incompatible, then she will stop making love to her partner. This often leads to arguments, and the relationship might start to become shaky.
Another thing that may happen is that some men may no longer see their partner as a lover, and they only see her as a mother. This may lead to the incapacity to make love to her or to fully express themselves from a sexual point of view, because they may think, for example, “I can’t ask her to make oral sex to me, she kisses my child with that mouth”.
What to do?
Distinguish between the “parent” role and the “lover” role: To continue having a strong relationship, both partners need to become aware that they play various roles. They can be both parents and lovers.
Moreover, turning the relationship and sex life into a priority will help them go through the child’s dirty diapers, feverish nights and tantrums easier. Let’s not forget that sex triggers the release of endorphins (which reduce pain and stress) and oxytocin, the "love hormone".
3. The baby sleeps with the parents all the time
Most people have sex in their bed: it’s comfortable, familiar and you don’t need to be in great shape to have good sex in it. Although many people buy a special bed for the baby, the temptation to bring the baby in the couples’ bed is strong. Why? Well, it is easier to breastfeed when the baby is near you than having to get out of bed and go to another room. Another reason is that some babies get sick often and as a caring parent, you may want to keep an eye on the baby, and make sure she is ok. There may also be the fear that something might happen to the baby if she is not near you or you might just love her too much, so you need to have her close to you at all times.
What to do?
Set limits on when the baby can sleep with you: Have a conversation about this with your partner and decide together (with an emphasis on “together”) under what circumstances the baby can sleep in your bed.
Ask each other questions like:
How do you feel about the baby sleeping in our bed?
How do you feel about the baby not sleeping in our bed?
How often would you like the baby to sleep in our bed?
Will it be for the whole night?
If we decide not to bring the baby in our bed, who will be responsible with waking up and checking on her during the night when she is sick? Will we take turns?
I am curious what challenges you had after the birth of your baby. How did you overcome them?
Please leave me a comment; I would love to connect with you. If you still have any issues and you don’t know how to fix them, you can drop me an email and I will try to provide some solutions in a future article.
Or we can arrange for a coaching session.