Pro tip: Don’t bank on the doctor’s approval at 6 weeks for the green light. Talk to the person who just gave birth.
Before I became a dad, sex with my wife was regularly on the docket. But as soon as our son arrived, intimacy quickly fell to the bottom of our to-do list. We were prioritizing round-the-clock diaper changes, assembling baby gear, and taking nonstop photos of our kid in a seemingly endless array of charming onesies.
At first, I didn’t have the time or energy to even consider having sex. But. I’m only human, and soon the desire came back with a vengeance.
There was one big question weighing on my mind: Was my wife ready, too? She was so focused on our child, exhausted from mothering, and coming to terms with all the changes with her body.
I never knew when (or if) it was appropriate to say, “Let’s take advantage of the baby’s nap time by working on some us time.” I didn’t want to seem pushy or not be empathetic to her larger needs, but I was just being honest with myself: I did want to start having sex again.
And the good news for new parents who haven’t had sex in weeks: It will happen. But reintroducing intimacy after welcoming a baby into your life will take time and patience. You’ll probably make some mistakes along the way — and that’s okay.
In an effort to spare you at least a couple of those mistakes, I’m sharing five tips that helped me and my wife transition back to the bedroom (or the sofa if your baby is sleeping in your room).
The standard recommendation from healthcare providers is to wait 4 to 6 weeks before you start having sex again. But those are just general guidelines based on your partner’s physical recovery.
Even if your partner is given the go-ahead from her doctor, she needs to be ready emotionally, too. If mom’s not feeling it for one reason or another, don’t push it — putting a countdown on your first time after baby will only add more stress to an already stressful situation.
I saw firsthand that new moms don’t feel their best after having a baby. Things are just different for them. Not to mention, the sleep deprivation takes a real toll. (And dads, after all the sleepless nights, takeout food, and abandoned trips to the gym, we aren’t feeling our best either.)
But what we want new moms to realize is that watching her be a mother to your child is one of the sexiest things you’ve ever witnessed. So, tell her she’s sexy.
It’s true, and she deserves to hear it.
Once your partner feels ready, that’s great, but don’t expect the sex of the pre-baby days. Things will be different.
If she’s breastfeeding, her breasts may be swollen with milk and her nipples have never felt such pain. Handle with care. You might want to avoid that region altogether. And don’t get all freaked out if any milk leaks out. That’s totally natural. This is a good time to just laugh it off.
When it comes to the vagina, be super careful. It takes time to heal after having a baby and your partner’s vaginal area might still be tender during and after recovery. Additionally, many women suffer from postpartum dryness, which can make sex uncomfortable or downright painful. Use lubricant.
If things get too uncomfortable or even painful for your partner, you’ll have to suspend your sex session. Go take a cold shower instead. Or get creative with that unused lube.
Yes, you can still have fun in bed, but you probably won’t be able to immediately do everything you used to do. Start off slow and go back to the basics. Think about other forms of stimulation before you have full-on vaginal intercourse.
You may have to experiment with new positions to figure out what is most comfortable and enjoyable for your partner. Now is a good time to have honest and open conversations about what’s good for both of you.
This isn’t just a tip for having sex again. This is a tip to live by for everything in parenthood. As you start reintroducing the notion of having sex after becoming parents, the key is to communicate with your partner as much as possible.
The ball is in her court, and make sure she knows that you’ll wait until she’s ready. Make that extra effort to make her feel as beautiful as she has always been. Go slow. And don’t be afraid to make changes to your pre-baby sex routine. Before you know it, you and your partner will be back in your groove, too.
Based in the D.C. area, Nevin Martell is a food and travel writer, parenting essayist, book author, recipe developer, and photographer, who has been published by The Washington Post, The New York Times, Saveur, Men’s Journal, National Geographic Traveler, Fortune, Travel + Leisure, and many other publications. Find him online at nevinmartell.com, on Instagram @nevinmartell, and on Twitter @nevinmartell.