Sex After Children: What Changes?

Sex after children. This can be a difficult subject because many people – both men and women – lose some of their sex drive after children are born. There are many factors that influence this fact, some physical and some psychological, but it can be detrimental to a marriage and to a family that should be happy.

In a survey of 5,000 women in 2003, more than 54% reported a loss of sexual appetite for up to six months after their children were born. Of those, 29% said that their sex drive was still healthy up until the day they went into labor, which says quite a bit. This means that in some women, hormone levels or some other physical or psychological change happens once they’ve delivered children that can alter their sex lives.

Consider, first, the very act of having a child. Physically, the woman’s body has changed. She’s gained weight that she will want to lose once the baby is born, and might give her an unhealthy self image. She’s pushed a large child through her birth canal, which might also decrease her desire to have sex. Her hormone levels have changed dramatically, as always happens during gestation and immediately following, and she might have taken medication (such as an epidural) that can inhibit the sex drive as well.

Psychologically, she’s just been through an immense amount of pain, and is likely exhausted. As happy and excited as she might be about motherhood, she’s also been burdened by an inordinate amount of stress. She’s worried about the baby – any physical ailments? – and she knows she’s in for an entirely new and different experience.

Once mother, father and child are at home, the environment in the household has also changed. Sleep deprivation is almost always a factor because someone has to get up with the baby in the middle of the night. Schedules are rearranged to care for a child, and there might be little or no time for sex. Both parents are worried about the welfare of their child – as almost all first-time parents are – so there is tension and fear in both parents.

Men whose wives have just given birth are almost as likely to suffer a decrease in libido. Men are the natural protectors of the family, and will want what is best for mother and child. Some men are worried about having sex with their wives after childbirth because they fear hurting them physically. Men have no way of knowing how a woman feels after she has just birthed a child, and sex may be the farthest thing from his mind.

The key here, of course, is communication. Husbands and wives (or boyfriends and girlfriends) must discuss their feelings with one another as often as possible. If you are concerned about your sex life, or if you are afraid to get back to the normal sexual routine, ask your partner how he or she feels about it. Talk about having sex once or twice a week, and slowly build up to whatever you find healthy.

It is also important to have time away from the baby, as terrifying as that might seem at first. Hire a babysitter (someone you trust) and go out together to spend time as a couple. It’s easy to forget about sex and marriage after a child is born, but stay sexually healthy by talking about it.

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