So What is Sex Like After the Baby is Born?

I wouldn’t know.

I’ll say this, it’s different. And by different I mean it ceases abruptly and absolutely for an indeterminate period of time.

It’s understandable, certainly, since your wife, whether she’s had a vaginal birth or a c-section, is feeling sore, distended, bloated, sleep-deprived – decidedly unsexy. Chances are so are you. At least sleep-deprived, anyway. It’s hard for either of you to get hot when the main topic of conversation is meconium, you’ve been up most of the night, your wife’s nipples are afflicted with fungal infection, and everywhere there lingers the slight sour stench of regurgitated breast milk.

But as time goes by, a gap begins to develop between the sexual needs and desires of the new mother and father. A thin crack that often widens as the weeks pass into a yawning gulf of frustration, resentment, and sheer unslaked randiness. As I wrote in ‘Who Loves Ya, Baby?‘: “The magic number generally bandied about is six weeks – six weeks after the birth and you’re back in the saddle again.”

Now, six weeks is a long time to go without sex. “Oh, come on,” some of our single readers are saying, “I go without sex sometimes for months.” Yes, but it’s different when you spend every night next to a naked woman whom you happen to find incredibly attractive. For one thing, your wife’s breasts have never looked better. So round, so firm, so fully packed. So immanently nibble-able. “Don’t touch my boobs,” she says as she slaps your hand away yet again. “Just a little squeeze.” “No.” “Just a…” “No.” “But I…” “NO.” Face it, dads, those beautiful breasts have been appropriated by a little wrinkled, toothless bald creature, and I don’t mean Hugh Hefner.

So you have to wait. But don’t think, as I did, that when those six weeks are up your sex life will resume anything like its prenatal normalcy. I realize that everyone has a different experience in this department, and that our situation was somewhat extreme, but it’s fair to say that it may take months before you’re having sex on a reasonably regular basis, and it’s during this period that the trouble often starts.

You believe, since you didn’t recently pass something roughly the size of a lemon through the end of your penis and didn’t have an obstetrician use a tool that looks remarkably like common garden shears to give you an episiotomy (“Hey, an appeaseotomy doesn’t sound so bad.” It is. I watched it. It’s bad. Very bad.), that once she’s green-lighted by her ob/gyn everything will be humpy-dory. A mother’s body is still healing, her nipples may be cracked and sore, unaccustomed hormones are coursing through her veins, she’s perpetually fatigued, perhaps self-conscious about that residual birth-weight.

Fathers, on the other hand, and not to put too fine a point on it, are horny. A typical exchange: You make obvious overtures, but your wife says something like: “But I’m dirty and I look terrible – let’s try to do it tomorrow.” To which you say: “You look great, honey, and I don’t mind if you’re a little dirty,” but what you’re thinking is: “I don’t care if you look like a bearded carnie and smell like a long-dead goat, let’s have sex now!” The gap is approaching canyon proportions.

Eight months. After the birth of our first son, we went eight months with only four attempts at intercourse, all unsuccessful. My wife simply found sex painful. Several trips to gynecologists were made, and every time they – Hungarian males all – told her that the problem was in her head. She’d come home muttering, “It’s not in my head, it’s in my goddamn vagina.”

Now, I don’t have to tell you that this was a trying time, in every sense of the word. I became increasingly frustrated, hurt, and yes, even angry. I felt that she wasn’t trying hard enough, and to a certain extent this was probably true. But then I could have done more to express my needs and desires, and to try to open a dialogue about viable alternatives.

Because as I’m sure you’ve all figured out by now, there is a lot more to sex than simple penetration. There is a whole panoply of extremely satisfying activities at your fingertips, and the long dry spell after childbirth is a great time to explore all of them (although cunnilingus is generally discouraged by doctors until at least a month or two after the baby is born). But for whatever reason, it seemed to be ‘all or nothing’ with us, when it should have been ‘everything but.’ Couples need to connect in any way possible during the often stressful period after the birth of a child, sexually and otherwise.

So here’s my advice to new moms and dads.

Dads: Be supportive, be loving, be gentle, be kind, be patient. Much more patient than I was, please.  Your partner’s had a massive strain on her body and she’s got a lot on her mind, and the last thing she needs is you charging in with your boner bobbing, looking for a quickie. Take it slowly, and try to rekindle some romance rather than sexual passion. Do anything and everything you can to make her life easier – getting up with the baby to give her a couple extra hours of sleep is going to get you a lot more loving than, well, just about anything.

Moms: Throw your man a bone, for goodness’ sake. Even if you don’t mean it, say “Oh honey, I’d love to but I just don’t think I’m ready yet.” Just the impression that your wife wants to have sex – but can’t – goes a long way. And let’s face it, some oral sex or a hand-job is going to significantly improve his mood and help sustain your intimacy and sense of ‘togetherness.’  (And given the sparsity of your sexual encounters, it’s probably not going to take more than a minute or two anyway.)

For both parents: Ease slowly back into your sex lives, and don’t expect too much at the beginning. New mothers, particularly those who are breastfeeding, often have issues with vaginal dryness, and there are two main forms of lubrication: commercial lubes and alcohol. Use both liberally. Talk openly and honestly about your needs and expectations – letting frustration and resentment simmer unspoken is simply asking for trouble. Sex (of any sort) after the baby is born is something you need to work at, but it’s work that’s not only potentially fun, it’s absolutely vital. So stop reading this, get off the stinking computer, and get to it, people.

sexual frustration ecard

22 thoughts on “So What is Sex Like After the Baby is Born?

  1. Pingback: Parenting Advice: Fathers Over Forty a podcast with Wade Wingler - #037 – “Intimacy After the Baby” – Fathers Over Forty - Parenting Advice: Fathers Over Forty a podcast with Wade Wingler

  2. Very true! But I believe, the sex life seldom rolls back to pre-child birth. That passion for being awake the entire night, just fondling each other, and speaking things that the partner would do anything to hear, are cruelly taken over by ‘why is he not properly suckling’ or ‘Honey, this little guy is not being able to sleep properly. What should we do?’ Six weeks, I would say is a pretty short span of time! I had watched a show ‘Whispering mom’ on Discovery or National Geographic, wherein the lady anchor had rightly said, ‘child-birth is a natural contraceptive for parents for as long as 2 years!’

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    • I think that’s true for a lot of couples, but I’ve also read many, many comments on forums like Baby Center which say that the sex was even better after kids. I guess everyone is different, and every relationship goes through phases when it comes to the sex. And while no, you’ll probably never get back to the raw passion of ripping each other’s clothes off in a hotel stairwell (just for example), you can have a very satisfying sex life as long as you’re willing to work at it a bit. Thanks for your comments, and your nomination!

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    • Thanks, sagicollection. I don’t know, I’m not out to bare either my private life or my soul, but it seems like we shouldn’t be shy or ashamed to have a conversation about topics that are extremely important to our lives. No one is ever alone, so let’s talk honestly about our shared experiences and maybe, just maybe, we can make our own lives and the lives of those around us a bit better.
      Anyway, that’s my aim, self-aggrandizing as it may be.

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    • Well, eatnapplay, all I can say is – that sucks. However, you can believe me when I say that it will get better, that all will get back to normal eventually. It just takes some time. For some, like us, a lot of time.
      And thanks so much for your comments – the best thing a reader can say is that something I’ve written has helped them a little, even if it’s just the opportunity to commiserate. Best of luck – with everything!

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