Love & Sex After Having A Baby
The Baby's Arrived But Your Love's Disappearing Fast
Help for new parents to keep their love alive
PLEASE NOTE - THIS IS FAIRLY TAME STUFF & I INTEND TO ADD SOME HOTTER TIPS SOON!
The excitement of a baby’s arrival can have unforeseen consequences for a couple. As well as focusing entirely on their tiny bundle of joy, let's not forget sleepless nights, endless chores and upheaval of grand proportions. A Sunday morning lie in, or impromptu night out as a couple? Forget it!
Hardly surprising many couples site the months after their baby’s arrival as when disharmony set in. Take Julie, 36 and husband Tom, 38. Until their baby arrived they juggled successful careers with a lively social life. Six months after baby Jake’s birth Julie complained they spent more time arguing over who does what than enjoying each other's company. She no longer felt like a wife and partner but a drudge.
If that rings a bell it doesn't have to be this way. You can enjoy your baby and a good relationship too. Arm yourself with awareness plus six simple strategies to survive post-baby changes:
1/ ‘Team Dad’ - Being good parents to your baby is the most important job you'll ever do. However you'll do it better as a team. It's time to agree to stop pulling apart. Sit down and discuss what each of you does best when it comes to all the demands you now face. The key is to be super-positive with each other about the jobs you each do well. Resist begrudging your partner praise for what they have a natural ability for - like he may find putting the baby down a dawdle. Be generous with compliments and tell your partner how much you appreciate their efforts for your little family. With both of you knowing what’s expected, and supporting each other, it’ll create some team spirit.
2/ Ban Baby Talk - It's terribly important to establish time for you as a couple. Many couples become so baby-centred that they ‘lose’ some of their relationship. Even if the only time you have is sharing a meal together. Ban talking about your baby during this time. If the baby’s been ill you need to inform them. And they'll want to hear any little baby news. But once you've had a bit of baby talk it should be about you and grownup things. Ask each other how you are and discuss your partner's day. Talk about both your interests like the book you've bought (even if between baby feeds you haven't had time to read it yet!) saving for a holiday, that winetasting evening you’d like to go to, etc.
3/ Couples Play - Just as you have playtime with your baby where you shake their rattle in front of them or show them some musical toys, so too you as a couple need to get out and ‘play’. Even if you can only get childminding once a fortnight or so, do it. Early on it's good to get your baby accustomed to being left with someone trusted. Leave the baby at their gran’s or organise some babysitting-swap duties with another couple. This is your time to relax without fear the baby’s going to interrupt your supper or watching a DVD. The golden rule is to do what you both want to. So if you're too tired to go out then have a candlelit supper at home. It's all about your uninterrupted time together.
4/ Change Your Expectations - Pre-baby you might’ve fantasised you'd be as happy as the Walton family, keep a beautiful home, and have hot sex thrown in every weekend. When reality sets in some parents hang on to unrealistic expectations. Reassess things and prioritise. If it gives you more time together then let, say, the ironing go. If it means you have more fun playtime with the baby don't worry about things being less tidy.
5/ Ask and You Shall Get - With all good intentions mothers and fathers can sometimes slip up or be thoughtless without meaning to. He doesn't compliment you when you’ve finally got a new hairstyle, he brings over a work colleague without notice, your best friend’s there sipping wine when he gets back, etc. Such things can be the last straw when you've been up with the baby all night. This is all about ‘asking’! Ask your partner to let you know if they want to bring someone back. Ask your partner how your hair looks. Never keep quiet and stew over these things when you have so much on your plate as a young family.
6/ Mothers and Fathers - It's terribly important to keep affection going after the birth even if full sex is off the menu for a time. Oxytocin - the bonding hormone - is released through cuddles, handholding and hugs. When you stop physical contact because you feel so tired and frustrated it can be hard to regenerate - in other words ‘use it or lose it’. Do be aware that women can get "cuddle-fatigue" after birth having nursed, cuddled and carried around their baby all day. If your partner seems over-keen for cuddles let them know that a little will go a long way. When it comes to enjoying full sex again take it slowly and make sure there's been some romance first!
Published in The Express Newspaper