People Get Super Candid About How Their Sex Lives Changed After Having A Baby

Intercourse is (often) the act that brings a child into a relationship ― but once the baby arrives, couples’ sexual intimacy generally takes a backseat to the all-encompassing task of keeping a tiny human alive. If one partner has given birth, they will need time for physical healing, and if they’re breastfeeding, couples may need to switch up their erogenous zones.

Yet we somehow expect that people will tolerate this change and then find their way back to a healthy sexual relationship without a struggle, without outside help and without honest conversations about their needs and desires.

The truth is that after becoming parents, it takes a lot of effort, and often some creativity, to bring a sexual relationship back to a place that is satisfying for everyone involved.

Below, people share the ways that their sexual relationships changed after the birth of a child, and how they handled it with their partners.

‘Physical intimacy was lacking because it was the last thing I could even think about.’

Jillian Amodio is a social worker who specializes in helping moms cope with mental health struggles. She herself battled postpartum depression following the births of both of her children.

Her first pregnancy was difficult both emotionally and physically, and even before her daughter was born, “I was already in this mental headspace of, ‘I don’t like myself. I don’t feel like myself. I don’t know who I am. I don’t know if I can do this. This is not what I expected,’” Amodio told HuffPost.

To make things even more challenging, the baby seldom slept, and would only do so beside her mother in the bed.

“Physical intimacy was lacking because it was the last thing I could even think about,” she said. While her husband never voiced any complaint about their intimate relationship, Amodio perceived the lack of intimacy as yet another failure on her part as a new mother.

Years later, she found a letter she had written to her husband during that time. “It was basically talking about how much I hated myself and how much I hated the wife I’d become and the mother I’d become and how I could understand if he wanted to leave … I felt so disgusting and so revolted of myself that I couldn’t imagine why anyone else wanted to be around me.”

While the couple did “reengage in intimacy,” she said, “for me, the emotional connection was gone. I was just filling a role.”

Her path back to a healthy sexual relationship with her husband took time, and required Amodio first to come to love and value herself as an individual. After experiencing a more severe depressive episode following the birth of her second child, Amodio finally started seeing a therapist and sharing her struggle with friends and family.

“I started to find ways to fall back in love with myself,” she said, including going out with friends and returning to school and work.

“I started to rebuild my sense of self, and in rebuilding my sense of self I was then able to view myself as desirable or worthy of affection,” she said. “And that is where things started to change.”

‘We had this rude awakening of, This is not going to happen by itself.

Even in cases where there is not a diagnosable mental health struggle, the experience of becoming a parent is overwhelming, often altering a couple’s dynamic in ways they weren’t prepared for.

“We didn’t anticipate a change. We were bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and the baby came and then we lost each other,” Kaamna Bhojwani, a coach and the author of “The Giant Book of ‘How-To’ Lists for the New Dad” (which includes a guide to “10 Ways To Get Laid Post Baby”), told HuffPost.

Bhojwani and her then-husband (they divorced years later) did find their way back to one another, but it wasn’t without effort.

“We had this rude awakening of, This is not going to happen by itself. And we were proactive,” she said. “Then we had a second child, and we were better about those pitfalls with the second child.”

The couple were able to leave their children in the care of grandparents so they could spend time together and reconnect.

“The phrase that somebody once used for me was ‘reclaiming the relationship,’ which I thought was very poignant,” Bhojwani said.

‘This could be a catalyst to create a really wonderful sex life.’

Aaron Steinberg, a relationship coach, found that after he and his wife became parents, the path they took to rekindle intimacy brought them not back to where they were before, but to someplace better.

While the couple had managed to recover intimacy after the birth of their first child, the second child felt “like a tornado had ripped through our relationship.”

“A year after he was born, we hit a very low point where we felt extremely disconnected, and have had to work hard to get through the impact of parenthood on our partnership ever since,” Steinberg told HuffPost.

“We got to a place where we were having consistent sex and it felt ‘good enough’ to both of us,” he explained. But after a few years of this, “we had a mindset shift.”

“We had been thinking that sex used to be good and then it was bad, so we needed to get back to where we were,” Steinberg said. “But when we accomplished that goal, we realized that actually neither of us had ever been super fulfilled, and that this could be a catalyst to create a really wonderful sex life.”

The couple’s path has included therapy, coaching and a lot of communication with each other. Another strategy they have found successful is a “structured intimacy practice.” This consists of each person being allotted 10 minutes to be the receiver and another 10 to be the giver. “The receiver asked for what they wanted and, if the giver consented, they would get it for that time, and then we’d switch roles,” Steinberg explained.

While he admits that at times this felt “uncomfortable and contrived,” he believes there were many benefits. First, the approach required them to schedule time for intimacy and make it a priority, no small feat with young children afoot. Second, it brought their communication about sex to another level.

“It gave us a venue to practice getting more comfortable thinking about what we wanted, asking for it, receiving, and saying no when things didn’t feel comfortable,” Steinberg said.

‘You will not be in the mood for sex if there isn’t intimacy, and that’s the piece that people miss.’

The person HuffPost spoke to who had the easiest transition to a post-baby sexual relationship was the person who had the most unique romantic relationship to begin with.

Adam Lyons, a dating coach, lives on a Texas ranch with his wife, Eve, and their five children. Three or four nights a week, they also have a guest in their home, Lyons told HuffPost. She’s the woman whom he and his wife have been dating for the past five months.

The throuple arrangement isn’t new to the family. “For the majority of our relationship, we have had a third partner,” Lyons told HuffPost. He said they’ve dated 60 people in total, but only introduced three of them to their children.

One former partner, Brooke, had an 18-month-old child already before joining the throuple. When Eve had a baby with Adam and needed time to recover from childbirth, “because of our unique relationship, I was just having sex with Brooke instead. So to me there was no lull in bedroom activity,” Lyons said.

Being in a poly relationship, he said, presents advantages for the birthing parent, too. While Eve was fully engaged in parenting the baby, “she’s got two parents looking after her kid when she’s tired. So the burden is reduced significantly.”

To maintain a sexual connection, he said, he made time for intimacy with both partners every day. This is often the critical missing piece when couples lose their sexual connection after a baby, he said.

“Whether you have sex or not, you and your partner should have intimacy every day. And intimacy should be or could be as simple as lying naked next to each other, kissing and looking into each other’s eyes,” Lyons said. “If you do that, sex will often follow, but what people do is they remove intimacy. And once you remove intimacy, then you have a very, very real problem because sex cannot happen. You will not be in the mood for sex if there isn’t intimacy, and that’s the piece that people miss.”

By making daily intimacy a priority, it wasn’t difficult for all parties to maintain sexual fulfillment after the baby arrived, or to return to their normal sex life, involving regular threesomes, as the child grew.

“The cool thing about poly is we’re all pretty understanding that people’s lives change, and that’s just part of it,” Lyons said.

If you’re struggling with intimacy post-baby, here’s where to begin

Acknowledge the changes that a new baby brings. “A birthing parent will likely experience many changes in their bodies, with their libido, what may feel pleasurable (or painful), and hormones,” Saba Harouni Lurie, a licensed marriage and family therapist in California, told HuffPost. “Both birthing and non-birthing parents may not have the same sexual desire if they are feeling ‘touched out’ due to the physical demands of caring for and comforting a child.”

The stress and conflict that parenting can bring may exacerbate these challenges. “It can help to expect things to change instead of staying the same or returning to ‘normal’ once the child joins the family,” Harouni Lurie said.

Talk openly about needs and desires. “If one partner still feels sexual desire while the other is feeling a decrease and does not want to engage sexually, the couple would benefit from open communication and compassion,” Harouni Lurie said. “They may need to redefine intimacy together.”

Lyons mentioned that someone could use masturbation or pornography as a way to meet their own sexual needs in this type of situation.

Don’t mistake sex for intimacy. “There are ways to connect and cultivate intimacy that doesn’t involve sex, and if both partners believe it’s important that they have sex, they may approach it creatively, and sex may look different from how it used to pre-children,” Harouni Lurie said.

Take the long view. “Things are going to change and change again,” Harouni Lurie said. As Steinberg found, these changes may even be for the better.

“Couples can be creative and, over time, can find greater access to pleasure and intimacy,” Harouni Lurie continued.

“This period may not be the most passionate and sexually charged, and that’s to be expected,” she said. “That doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for passion and sex in the future, and it doesn’t mean that your partner doesn’t care about you or want to connect with you.”

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