Postpartum sex is a whole thing that no one has time for with all the baby-raising and keeping people alive and fed and rested (which mostly isn’t happening). But for husbands, somehow the ‘not having time for it’ doesn’t apply. No matter about your suddenly saggy, painful, 90-year-old body, your engorged and aching boobs, your repulsion at the very idea of being touched after having a child clinging to you all day. He didn’t get the memo. And since you two were a thing first, it’s a great idea to have a plan if you want to keep the thing going.
1. Talk through expectations…and expect to adjust them. Now would be a great time to outline what you’re hoping for in terms of his involvement. Will he be expected to wake up during the night with the baby? Change, soothe, or wear the baby? Bring you breakfast in bed? Give you time for daily naps while he cares for children and cleans the house? Make a list of everything you feel you’ll need to be truly healthy, nourished, and rested (this list should look like A LOT, because new moms need a very high level of care. If you don’t think so you’re probably trying to superhero it, which is not awesome if you really want to stay healthy.) Review together to make sure you’re on the same page. A hint here: If he can meet every need on your list, you’re probably being idealistic. You need a tribe to stay healthy, even if you hate the idea of needing help. Postpartum is the ultimate time to lean on your village. Hire a postpartum doula if your village pickings are slim.
2. Be ready to adjust. Even if the doctor clears you for sex at six weeks, you may not want to. It may be painful. You may be self conscious and exhausted and touched out. Talk through how you’ll overcome these hurdles.
3. Figure out your sexy options. Decide on ways to meet the sexual needs without intercourse for a while—but do meet the needs. You may want to actually schedule the frequency, because when it’s the furthest thing from your mind it’s easy to forget.
4. Get him support. Newborns pretty much need a momma, a boob, and about a million diaper changes. Dad is, unfortunately, nowhere to be found in the “newborn needs” equation. On the other hand, you’re totally taken with baby, and that relationship is the main thing for a while. Then there’s the sleep deprivation, the postpartum blues/depression etc (often for both him and you) and the million adjustments that come with parenthood, almost none of which dads are fully informed about. This man needs support, information, and time to recharge. Help him find info that he needs and time to rest and recharge that does not include you being left responsible for all the things while he’s out (read: get some womenfolk in your living room.)
5. Celebrate your wins. It may take longer than expected to get back into intercourse. Let your body, your libido, and your sex life adjust at their natural pace. When you do try, take it slow, and don’t expect magic for awhile. Just getting comfortable with everything is a huge win.
6. Make time for one-on-one. And I don’t mean sex here- I mean quality time together. Now, before you laugh in my face, I promise I am not asking you to get all fancy and go out. Here's a list of simply but totally romantic dates you can do without leaving the house. In the spirit of being realistic, take whatever you can get, whether a few hours, or even a few minutes together. Any alone time can be date time when you've got small people.
7. Grace. Have all the grace you can possibly muster for each other. Try really hard to be kind, giving each other room to be grumpy and tired and not as on the ball as either of you were before. These are difficult times- keep the expectations pretty low, sexual and otherwise.
8. Have him read this. There are some pretty surprising factors that play into postpartum sexy feelings, a lot of which hinge on his level of involvement in the home and with the babe. Check this post out for more.
9. Debrief after baby. There is just so much to welcoming a small person, the experiences, emotions, all of it. So much. Here’s a step by step tutorial on how to debrief in a way that can bring you closer, clear the air, help you both recover your intimacy and get what you need on all levels.
Talking through expectations, adjusting to your new normal, planning for sex, making sure your partner is totally ready for this life-change and has the support he needs, celebrating the small steps back into bed, making time for each other....each step of the process is incredibly important, and can lay the foundation for a return to a healthy, thriving sex life.