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Post Childbirth: Your Relationship With Your Partner

There’s no getting away from it – having a baby will change your relationship with your partner. New parents sleep deprivationThere are likely to be times when you feel anxious and confused about this but if you and your partner pull together, you can move through these moments of stress and emerge even stronger than ever. Have a look at our tips on how your partner can help as part of this.

Alone Time
Yes, it sounds impossible right now but try to get as much alone-time as possible. Accept your friends’ and family’s offers of babysitting if you’re happy to. In the coming months, when you’re craving a bit of romance and fun, you’ll be glad you did!

What About Sex?
This is a very personal, individual question and often depends to a large extent on how you are feeling physically. General advice is to wait at least six weeks after giving birth to resume your sex life but this is only a minimum guideline. The fact is that many women who’ve had stitches, scarring, heavy bruising or an episiostomy simply may not be ready for sex at six weeks.

In research studies it’s been shown that at least 80% of women experience reduced libido in the months after birth. Labour can be a beautiful but traumatic experience and for a while afterwards you may find you feel a little frightened of getting hurt during sex. Your partner may also be wary of hurting you.

If you’re breastfeeding your baby, the hormone oxytocin that is released can also lower your sex drive. And in fact even if you’re bottle feeding, the reduction in oestrogen levels after the birth can lower your levels of natural lubrication.

In all likelihood you and your partner will both need to be a bit patient. Remember you will be feeling exhausted and depleted, and you will probably be in need of lots of cuddles more than anything. In fact oxytocin is a bonding hormone, which is likely to stimulate your need for comforting touch.

Having said that, some women find they want to resume such intimacy as soon as possible, in order to feel attractive, sexy and connected with their partner again. Others have been known to say that they find orgasms more intense after giving birth. It really all depends.

What matters most is communication between you and your partner, especially since there is often also a psychological aspect to slowed-down sexual activity. In the past the emphasis in your relationship was upon you both as a couple, but now it has shifted to the three of you as a family. Seeing your partner as the father of your child can sometimes desexualise him somewhat and it might take a bit of time (and talks) to readjust and make way for romance again.

You might also find you feel less confident about your body after the changes it’s gone through, but remember that in fact many men aren’t bothered by this. If you’re worried, speak to your partner. Also have a look at our section on you and your figure after birth.

Mum and Dad Relaxing

Many experts advise beginning to reignite intimacy slowly. For example you could start with sensual touch first – e.g. massage – in order to get re-accustomed to that kind of closeness without the pressure of sex. And try to get as much time alone together as possible. Take up that offer of a babysitter. Spend the night away or lend the little one to the in-laws so you can have a weekend break. Experiment with various positions and see what feels right. And above all, be gentle and patient with yourself.

If In Doubt, Ask For Help
There are sometimes other reasons for a loss of libido. For example some women experience reduced desire due to postnatal depression. If you suspect that might be the case you can contact the Association for Postnatal Illness at apni.org . Or you may be experiencing a medical problem that is causing you discomfort such as an undetected infection or poor stitching. Above all, if in doubt see your GP.