Written by Sexual Wellness Institute Masters Intern, Kailey Morien
The joys (or not) of parenthood…
Parenthood encompasses, arguably, the one of the most major alteration in lifestyle out of anything. From pregnancy, birth, and postpartum, various changes are occurring both biologically and psychological in the person who gives birth AND their partners. These changes result in disruption of regular life, which means that relationships are affected. One of the main adjustments of parenthood? Your sex life.
Postpartum Sex Can Be Complicated
From pregnancy and beyond, sex becomes different. New positions, varying hormone levels, and an overall feeling of being unwell contribute to a change in the way people experience sex while pregnant. This change is further amplified after baby is born. From newborn stage to teenage stage, the logistics of the parent’s sex life changes. Figuring out-when do we have sex? What if we’re too tired? What if our kids can hear us? What if they walk in on us and we traumatize them? How do we maintain a good sex life?
Podcasts Are Here to Help!
Foreplay’s “Sex After Kids,” addresses these concerns. Created by sex therapist Laurie Watson, and couples therapist Dr. Adam Mathews, this podcast discusses the common questions about sex after children. Both therapists validate parents and discuss the barriers of having sex after your little ones are born. The podcast also discusses barriers to sex postpartum. It’s important to know what’s happening to your body and hormones at this time.
Four Barriers to Adult Sexy Time:
Barrier One = Prolactin
This barrier begins during pregnancy, and it is often hormonal. Prolactin, a hormone produced to help breastfeed, reduces desire in women and alters lubrication, which can increase discomfort during sex. This makes sex less pleasurable and sometimes even painful.
Barrier Two = Sleep Deprivation
It is discussed in the podcast is lack of sleep and its disruption to desire within couples. Who wants to have sex when you’ve been up all night soothing a crying child?
Barrier Three= Overstimulation
A new baby needs lots of attention and is constantly physically clinging to them, to the point where they may not want any physical contact by anyone else due to overstimulation.
Barrier Four = C H A N G E S
A new baby creates rapid and dramatic schedule changes. Free time is suddenly gone, and it feels like everything revolves around your child. As Dr. Adam states, “Busyness is devastating for couples.” There is a common feeling among parents that your child is supposed to be the center of your world and you must do everything with them. This is further perpetuated by kids interrupting adult time. It begins to feel like no matter what, your child is going to be there in middle. Date nights stop, adult sexy time stops, everything stops so that your child feels included.
Get Your Sex Back on Track
So, one of the keys to increasing your sex and overall relationship satisfaction? According to Laurie and Dr. Adam, making alone time for you and your spouse, even if it means excluding your kids from activities. Doing this will increase the opportunities to be intimate. Setting a strong boundary that parents have alone time to enjoy each other’s company fosters independence in kids, as well as the eventual desire of their own romantic relationship. It may seem uncomfortable in the beginning, but it’s good for them and their parents in the long run. As Laurie states, marriage comes first and family comes second. This sounds incredibly counterintuitive, but it makes sense in the grander scheme of things. Making your marriage a priority means getting your needs met, whether that be sexual, emotional, or physical. Your children see your healthy relationship and form a secure attachment because of it. There is an inherent gift in teaching your children the boundaries and passion of marriage according to Laurie. Allowing your children to pick up on your intimate connection is incredibly beneficial for the children and facilitates healthy peer relationships.
Logistics of Postpartum Sex and Intimacy
In addition to making your marriage a priority, there are logistical boundaries to be set that allow for sex to be prominent in your life. Getting your child to sleep in their own bed is a great way to increase adult alone time. While this might not always be realistic, trying to stick with allowing kids to sleep in their own bed will help increase sex. Creating a bedtime routine greatly aids kids in adapting to sleeping alone and staying in their own room. According to Dr. Mathews, ”Having a routine creates opportunities to have sex.” Another logistical thing is creating a safe space with your spouse. This means-privacy! Often, fear of your kid walking in on you have sex will deter you from being intimate. Parents will feel guilty about locking their door and not being accessible 24/7 to their kids and therefore won’t do it. Lock your door! Occasionally locking the door is NOT detrimental to your child and will solve this issue.
Interested in Starting Sex Therapy in Plymouth, MN?
Overall, prioritizing your relationship will create the frequency and quality of your sex life. Our sex therapists want to help you address sexual concerns here in Plymouth, or anywhere in the state with online therapy in Minnesota. Get started by following these simple steps:
Other Mental Health Services in Minnesota
In addition to sex therapy, our LGBT & polyamory friendly sex therapists provide a wide range of mental health services at our Plymouth, MN counseling office. Other services include couples therapy & marriage counseling, EFT, evidence-based couples therapy, EMDR & sexual trauma therapy, as well as, teen therapy. In order to help serve the mental health needs of all those living in Minnesota, we also offer online counseling & sex therapy. We also provide a variety of helpful tips on our mental health blog. Please feel free to reach out with questions, or if you would like to schedule an appointment to begin working with a skilled sex therapist! Your sex life can be amazing. Sex therapy can be a part of that process for you.
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