Anyone who has ever had a baby has probably been there: Standing in front of a mirror, breasts swollen and heavy, body still stretched from childbirth and pregnancy, exhausted from newborn night confusion, and wondering how on EARTH you will ever find the energy, desire, or confidence to be with your partner again in any sexual way.
Take it from me who has been there three times: It comes back. But it takes a while. Still, the truth is the faster you get back on track to intimacy, the better things will be for everyone in the family (including mommy!). "Sexuality and, more importantly, intimacy are extremely important in a marriage. Sexless or low sex marriages are very fragile," says Dr. Lauren Napolitano, a psychologist and author of Over-Scheduled & Under-Sexed: How Busyness Is Destroying Your Marriage (2015).
Indeed. But how does one get back on track when they feel ANYTHING but sexy?
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1.) Wait: It might seem counter-intuitive to say you should "wait," but the fact is intercourse -- and even cuddling and "other" sexual matters -- are best left until the new mom feels physically ready. Half the battle is not feeling pressured and being allowed to resume those intimate feelings on her own time.
"The irony is that intimacy can help to fill back up the reserves. My advice to my clients is to reconnect slowly starting with talking, touching, kissing, etc. Women need foreplay -- especially after having a baby," says psychologist Julie Bindeman.
2.) Lubricate: Nursing depletes our stores and nothing says horrible intimacy like a Sahara desert experience. Use lubrication and use it liberally. Also, if it hurts, stop. It may seem obvious, but there is no pressure. Things will get back to normal.
3.) Visit the gym: It seems impossible, I know. But the truth is getting our blood flowing again (and, let's be honest, losing the baby weight) is all part of gaining back that confidence in intimacy.
"Having some 'me time' to exercise while the baby is being watched will help you to shed any pregnancy weight and reconnect with your body," says Dr. Napolitano
4.) Hire as much help as you can afford: If you're feeling burned out with a newborn, hire help. Even if it's a stretch financially, a night nurse for one night or a sitter for a couple hours so mom can nap could make the difference between a happy marriage and an unhappy one. It's worth stretching a bit for that.
"Not enough moms ask for night nurses and babysitters," Napolitano says. "The lack of sleep alone will deplete your energy. Assert yourself and get as much help as possible."
5.) Look at sex differently: Rather than view it as another chore, try to view sex with your husband as something pleasurable (like a massage!). As Napolitano suggests: "Look at sex as a way for your husband to take care of you. Don't focus on his pleasure, insist that he do the things that you like. Sex should be a reward, not an obligation or a chore." Amen.
6.) Communicate: Sometimes it's just a matter of talking to one another. If one person feels ready or is pressuring the other too soon, things won't work. Men need to respect their partner's slow return to things and women need to try to be understanding of their partner's need to be intimate.
I'll never forget two weeks after my first child was born wanting to smack my husband when he suggested that he missed intimacy. Almost a decade later, I get it. He loved me. He missed me. He wanted reassurance we were still "us."
None of this is easy, but things do come back. If we think of our love life as seasons, it's easier to understand. The time after a baby feels like winter. There is nothing on the trees and all is cold and barren. But the spring comes. And when it does, WOW. The sex hits a whole other level if you let it.
Be patient. Be loving. All good things come to patient people.
How did you resume intimacy after baby?
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