10 March 2009

Baby driving your sex life bonkers?

After there's been an addition to the family, there’s perhaps an unspoken question about when it’s okay to try sex again. If you’re worried that you don’t feel up to it yet

Scenario: the new addition is mostly sleeping through at night, allowing you both to catch up on some desperately needed sleep. But there’s a perhaps unspoken question about when it’s okay to try sex again. If you’re worried that you don’t feel up to it yet, or are worried that nothing’s happened, here’s some help.

Some couples take some time to renew their intimacy and to get back into any routine of carnal knowledge. It’s understandable: both parents have been through a traumatic experience which, despite being full of joy at welcoming a squalling little tyke into the world, was bloody, visceral and traumatic. Some women worry that their partners will view them differently, having seen them in labour.

And in the first few months, sleep is at a premium. Many parents view bed simply as place to catch a few blessed minutes of oblivion between feeds and nappy changes. So what can you do?

Chill out. Firstly, don’t be too anxious about whether your love life will normalise. The number of families with more than one child attest to the fact that parents do get it together again.

Talk about it.When you’re both sleep-deprived and feeling drained may not be the right time for a discussion on intimacy, but find a time. The chances are that you share the same uncertainties about life after the baby, and both your concerns about time alone, time together and time in the sack need to be aired.

Get moving.Women can do kegel exercises to help their pelvic floor muscles. You do this by squeezing the muscles you use to pinch off during flow. Feeling “tight” again can have as many psychological advantages as physical ones, giving you a timely boost in self-confidence.

Don’t be fixated on intercourse.You can have a great deal of erotic, satisfying but non-penetrative intercourse that will help develop healthy sexual tension for when you do make the beast with two backs.

Get help. Some women suffer from vaginal dryness when breastfeeding, because feeding depletes the body’s oestrogen levels. Liberal doses of waster-based lubricants can ease things along nicely.

Be selfish. Grandparents gooey about the rugrat? Good. Let them have have the pleasure of a sleepless weekend while you escape somewhere. You may choose to spend it sleeping, or you might rediscover some of the hot and nasty moves you shared as newlyweds. It's your call.

Don’t undervalue sex. Even though you might not feel like it, lovemaking does help cement relationships. Once you start, you’re likely to enjoy it.

Make it quick. Some couples find quickies exciting and therapeutic. Tell your partner they don’t replace those long fireside evenings – for which there’ll be time in around 10 months – but that quickies are a way of keeping intimacy alive. Receiving an SMS to say “I’ll be naked at home in 20 minutes – be there” can be just the antidote for pyjama patrol.

(William Smook, Health24, updated March 2009)

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