Becoming parents is a beautiful and transformative experience, but it can also bring about significant changes in a couple’s relationship. One of the challenges many couples face after childbirth is maintaining intimacy. The exhaustion, stress, and time demands that come with caring for a newborn can leave partners feeling disconnected.
Dyspareunia in particular, is known as one of the most recurrent problems when it comes to restarting sexual relations after childbirth. 40% of women experience it at 3 months, 28% at 12 months and 1 in 5 women still experience pain at 18 months. Know that you are not alone and that intimacy doesn’t have to just be viewed from the physical lens. There’s more to it!
According to Dr. Elizabeth Fedrick, there are 5 types of intimacy in a relationship and by activating all of them, you can have a healthy and fulfilling dynamic with your partner. Intimacy doesn’t have to end after childbirth, especially when your body has gone through transformation and potential disassociation. What once used to be this sexual temple has now turned into a nurturing and healing system. It may be tough to make the switch, mentally from hot sexy human to baby mama, but it is very possible. So, give yourself some slack since your brain just went through synaptic pruning: the process of eliminating certain connections between brain cells to encourage the facilitation of new connections. It’s essentially your brain telling you what to prioritize when it comes to remembering the name of the latest movie you watched versus having a deep resonance for the needs and wants of your newborn.
Set Your Own Timeline
When it comes to getting back on the saddle and riding the horse again, don’t feel compelled to follow any specific timeline. Your body will tell you what feels right. You can, however, approach pain from different aspects by using lubricants, adopting positions that involve less pain and controlling depth of penetration. (Check out our marketplace for pain relief products here)
It is important to also schedule regular “alone time” for you and your partner, even if it’s just a short walk, a quiet dinner, or a movie night at home. This dedicated time allows you to reconnect and focus on each other, strengthening the bond that brought you together in the first place. The NCBI study also suggests that spending quality time together can contribute to relationship satisfaction during the postpartum period.
Talk Things Through
Communication is the foundation of any healthy relationship, and it becomes even more crucial after childbirth. Take the time to have open and honest conversations with your partner about your needs, desires, and concerns. Be attentive to each other’s feelings and work together to find solutions. Every individual and relationship is unique, so understanding your partner’s perspective is key. A study published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) emphasizes the significance of effective communication in postpartum couples, highlighting how it fosters emotional connection and understanding.
Maintain Physical Touch and Emotional Connection
While sexual intimacy might be temporarily off the table, physical touch and emotional connection are essential elements of intimacy that can be sustained. Simple acts like holding hands, cuddling, or even a gentle massage can help foster closeness. According to the NCBI study, non-sexual physical intimacy is positively associated with relationship satisfaction in the postpartum period. This reaffirms the importance of maintaining physical touch even when sexual activity is limited.
Some other ways to foster intimacy could look like:
- A platonic massage: very clearly stating that this massage is NOT going to lead to sex allows both parties to ease into physical touch once again without any expectations. Ask for a foot rub, a head massage or whatever your body is craving. You deserve it, mama!
- Playing a game: In Tune, our card game for couples is the perfect gift to take you deeper in emotional intimacy for when you are too tired to ask the right questions.
- Sparking curiosity: leave cute notes around the house for your partner to find that includes what you love about them.
- Eye-gazing: what sounds super simple can be extremely moving. Carve out 3 mins in the day to just sit and stare into each other’s eyes. This will open new portals of intimacy and validation that you didn’t know existed.
Written by: Rythm