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New Parents: Here’s What You Need to Know About Your Sex Life

Psst: It really does get better

Risa Kerslake

Published on: July 09, 2019

new parents kissing

You’ll hear a lot of stories from people about sex after having a baby. That it’s just not the same, that you’ll never find alone time, that you become that couple who does it missionary-style in the dark without making a sound because you’re, well, parents now.

Years ago, before I got pregnant, I believed these stories. Well, I would think to myself, I better enjoy it now while I still can. I eventually got pregnant, and during that time the sex was really good — when I was in the mood. But then there was heartburn and this growing belly and the discharge — oh, the discharge! And all of a sudden, sex seemed like a lot of freaking work. 

But still, my husband and I were determined not to follow in the footsteps of some of our friends and let our marriage and intimacy fizzle all in the name of parenthood. We would figure it out when the time came. 

For the first six weeks after our daughter was born, sex was the furthest thing from my mind. My breasts seemed to be constantly leaking and there was always a little mouth seeking them out — so for the love of god, don’t touch them! Even though I had a C-section, I was bleeding so I certainly didn’t need anything else going on down there. And an orgasm? Please. Uninterrupted sleep was my new G spot, thank you very much. 

But then the doctor cleared me for sex and I thought we may as well test our resolve that we weren’t going to fall into the depths of a sexless marriage — something we had been psyching ourselves up about for the better part of a year.

Your child-free years shouldn’t be as good as it gets.

Let me tell you how that first time went: There was pain. There was dryness that wouldn’t quit. Holy hell, get off me, I’m done!

In hindsight, a dollop of lubricant would have been a good idea. Because like many mysteries and dirty little untold secrets of pregnancy and new parenthood, vaginal dryness and irritation after delivery is something no one warns you about. 

And honestly, it was like this for a while. Sex was something I did, not to necessarily enjoy it, but to wait out the pain and see if it got better. 

It’s been over three years, and I don’t know exactly when it was that it started getting good again. My daughter was 7 months old when she moved out of our room and I know we were still intimate during that time. A baby sleeping in the room shouldn’t be a deterrent for sex. It may not be great sex — maybe there’s a lot of whispering and clamping your mouth shut — but it can be done. Besides, there was still the couch and the floor beside the fireplace and sometimes we just needed to get creative. 

At the time, I was hyper-focused on not becoming distant from my husband, and since my world had already become unrecognizable as a first-time mom to an infant, I knew I needed him as an anchor to keep myself from drifting away from my marriage. 

As our daughter grew into toddlerhood, she discovered the freedom of leaving her bed at night and taking up all of our physical and mental energy by talking nonstop and throwing the most impressive tantrums. But surprise! We still found the time to have sex.

Is our sex life the same as it was when we didn’t have kids? Not exactly. Is it still pretty damn good? For sure. A half-hour of “Daniel Tiger” can give us some alone time on the weekends, and the couch makes for a pretty decent makeshift bed in the evenings after she falls asleep. We’ve learned our 3-year-old is actually a deeper sleeper than we initially thought and sleepovers at the grandparents’ house are pretty much the best thing ever invented. 

Having a satisfying sex life while raising young kids is definitely possible. And so is having a great one. You make it work. You adapt. You figure it out. You don’t have to dread it or assume that part of your relationship is over. When you think about it, new parenthood is such a small stage of your life together. Your intimacy shouldn’t level off. Your child-free years shouldn’t be as good as it gets. Putting in the effort during the parenting years gets you better sex. 

After all, this is the person you’ll be with when the kids move out of the house. Soon, your home will be quiet again, and the toys won’t be littering the living-room floor. There won’t be little knocks at the door just as you’re taking your bra off. It’s not always going to be like this, but in the meantime, you may as well enjoy it.

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