Adapting to baby's arrival

Whether it's your first baby, or another one completing your family, there will certainly be a new dynamic in the house, requiring a period of adaptation. For example, you’ll have to change your routine and daily habits. And your sex life is not immune to this adaptation process.

Where to find the time?

More often than not, we seem to be missing time in a day to do everything we used to do before baby arrived. Most of our energy is devoted to our child, and what little is left is spent on doing housework here and there. Generally, when the time comes to be intimate with our spouse, we’re either out of time or out of energy! And when we do find a time where it could be possible to get some intimacy, it’s almost impossible, especially during the baby’s first months of life, not to be interrupted by one thing or another!

A bond that takes an important place

For some mothers, particularly during breastfeeding, the bond with their baby is very intense. Sometimes, the time the mother spends with her child fills her emotional needs and she no longer wants to get intimate with her spouse. It’s also possible that because the mother spends so much time with the baby, she’ll need to get her mind off things, and want to be alone or spend more intimate time with her spouse.

We shouldn’t feel guilty about wanting to have a few hours to ourselves when we need it. We should also allow ourselves some time to adjust. The baby will become more independent little by little, and we will gradually find some time for ourselves or for intimacy with our spouse.

Where’s my sexual desire?

For some women, sexual desire disappears during the first weeks following the baby’s birth, which also corresponds with the presence of lochia (post-partum vaginal discharge). Healthcare providers often recommend waiting about 4-6 weeks before having intercourse. For some, it’s a relief because they don’t have to explain their lack of desire. This number of weeks may vary from one woman to another, depending on how she feels and the physical consequences of childbirth.

Penetration is only one of the many ways to make love, and we have the right to decide when to reintroduce it in our relationship. If you're in the mood for it, flirty glances, caresses and intimate moments can be part of a sexual relationship without necessarily having intercourse.

The decrease or lack of desire may extend over a longer period of time, especially if the woman is breastfeeding. In the latter case, there is often little or no desire because the hormones suppress it. After one year, if you worry about the fact that your desire hasn’t come back despite the fact that you’ve stopped breastfeeding several months ago, you could consult a doctor for reassurance. A sex therapist can also advise you. However, don’t worry too much if you don’t have any sexual desire. You must simply follow your own pace and not rush things.

 A few tips and tricks
  • Take the time to listen to yourself and take all the time you need in order for your desire to come back. Don’t pressure yourself.
  • Gradually make place in your daily life for tender moments with your spouse, without necessarily having sex. A moment just to be together and reconnect.
  • Ask someone you trust to babysit your little one, and have a date with your spouse… just like before you became parents !
  • Talk with your spouse about your needs, expectations and frustrations towards sexuality, and express yourself if the desire is simply not there.
  • Canadian Federation for Sexual Health
  • Abdel- Baki, Amal et Marie-Josée, Poulin (2004). Du désir d’enfant à la réalisation de l’enfantement. II. Perspectives psychodynamiques du vécu normal durant la grossesse et l’accouchement. Psychothérapie, 2 vol.41, p.11-16.
  • Deans, Anne (2004). Votre grossesse, Marabout, Paris, p.392.
  • St-Cerny, Anne (1997). Sexualité pendant la grossesse et après l’accouchement, naissance Renaissance Regroupement Québécois, Fédération du Québec pour le planning des naissances, SL., p.23.

By Nadia Rioux, intern in sexology, mother of 4 year-old Emy.

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