I debated calling this essay “How to have sex with your husband after he’s seen you in maternity Spanx,” but due to my love/hate relationship with maternity Spanx, I cut it. Because if we’re being honest, as most of us reminisce about those glorious, confusing, messy, sometimes downright painful nine months of pregnancy, we also remember the times with our partners when unspeakable lines were crossed.
I remember the first time it happened for us. Long story short, I needed to be trimmed down there. I couldn’t reach down there. My husband could. Enough said. Then, at six months pregnant, he helped squeeze me into those aforementioned maternity Spanx. And of course, the pièce de résistance—the miracle of childbirth, which my husband saw in its entirety and will never, ever forget.
Now, cut to the present—where I am perpetually covered in tiny crumb handprints, I count dry shampoo as one of my best friends, and mascara is considered a luxury for fancy ladies. Where the hell does feeling sexy come into play? And speaking of play—is anyone having sex in this world?
I’m here to tell you sex after baby is totally and utterly possible.
I’m also here to say that for most couples, it takes work, preparation and self-discipline. Romantic, I know. The thing to remember is that sex after kids will be different. And that is OK. Just like your body, your relationships, and your priorities, things shift when you have a baby. Accepting your new sex life is the first step.
Every couple and circumstance is different. I can write only from what I know. For my husband and I, it took about 10 weeks after the arrival of our daughter for sex to even be an option. My healing time took a little longer than the average six-week timeframe. But once I was given the go ahead, it took another few more weeks to actually work up to the act. Physically, I still felt pretty beat up. Feeling sexy was the farthest thing from my mind. But because my husband and I both agree that sex is a very important aspect of our relationship, I sucked it up and dove in.
You could call our first time utilitarian. Honestly, I just wanted to see if everything still worked. It did, but barely. I had moments of panic after that. Is this how it was going to be from now on? Was it ever going to feel “normal” down there? Would I ever feel sexy again??
Our daughter turns one year old soon and I can now confidently answer those questions—No. Yes. And YES!
It took work.
We had some difficult but necessary conversations. We also had to look inside ourselves for some deep (sometimes exhausting) introspection. And we had to be open and honest about everything.
It was critical that he knew my lack of a sex drive had nothing to do with him but could be blamed on a myriad of other factors—whacked out hormones, constant breastfeeding, a saggy tummy, stretch marks, exhaustion.
The list goes on. On his side, he was patient, understanding and patient some more. Not feeling pressure from him was vital in me finally becoming comfortable again—a sex timeline on my own terms.
It took preparation.
Not partaking in spur-of-the-moment sexcapades can definitely squelch the excitement a bit. But most new parents’ lives are no longer conducive to a kitchen quickie. It takes setting aside time to make things happen. If you know that both of you will be too tired to move by the time dinner is done, the kid is bathed and soundly asleep, try for a morning bout instead. Date nights, even if they happen just once a month, are so important for couples. I tell my husband we have to go on a date at least once a month so that I can remember how funny and cute he is.
It sounds a little absurd, but I swear every time we cut out a little free time for just the two of us, I am reminded again of why I fell in love with him in the first place.
For us, this emotional reconnection encourages physical connection.
It took self-discipline.
My self-discipline was all about my inner thoughts. I had to retrain my line of thinking. I had to tell myself, that yes, I was still sexy. And yes, my husband still finds me attractive. And yes, he still wants to do sexy, adult things to me. He was great at affirming these thoughts for me but it wasn’t until I believed it myself that our sex life was reignited. Once I accepted my new body, my new role in the world, and my newfound strengths, I felt sexy. Like, really sexy. And that opened the door for a new phase in our sex life.
One I’m calling the “adult parent” sex phase.
We are having real adult parent sex. And it’s hot.