The time after the birth of a new baby is often difficult for new parents. They’re experiencing a lack of sleep, having less time to themselves, and dealing with various hormonal changes.
It can be hard for new parents to be intimate, resulting in them not having sex for extended periods of time. If you and your partner are experiencing this, it’s okay. It’s perfectly normal for new parents to go through a phase of no or limited sex post-birth.
There are a variety of reasons why it can be hard for new parents to have sex. In this guide, we’ll go over what some of those reasons are and what you can do to improve the intimacy between you and your partner.
How a Mother’s Brain and Body Changes During Pregnancy
Studies have shown that a woman’s brain experiences substantial changes during pregnancy. A woman’s brain will begin to work more efficiently while also shrinking in size. This is to prepare a woman for becoming a parent.
Research has also shown that the amount of gray matter of the brain decreases. This part of the brain handles performing tasks, including the ability to interact with other people.
Losing parts of your brain may sound like a frightening thing, but it’s not. It helps women feel a greater attachment to their babies. They can also detect threats to protect their babies and themselves more quickly.
Additionally, a new mother will experience a large drop in estrogen after birth. Estrogen is the hormone that increases a woman’s libido. If a woman is breastfeeding, they will also have an increase in prolactin, which also reduces estrogen.
Another hormone that new mothers have is oxytocin, which works to promote bonding with their new infant. Mothers are more interested in cuddling with their new infant than being sexual with their partners. Problems arise when these hormones level out and a mother still doesn’t feel any sexual desire.
The Hormonal Change New Fathers Experience
The hormonal shifts new fathers go through with a new infant are often overlooked in the past. As fathers don’t go through the same physical changes a mother goes through during the pregnancy and birthing process, their hormonal shifts aren’t as dramatic. However, there is still evidence that they experience neural and hormonal shifts.
Studies have shown that fathers who play an active role in their infant’s life also have an increased level of oxytocin. Their testosterone levels also decrease as a man focuses on their family. Spending time caring for their child and family creates a strong bond, but also induces feelings of happiness as they experience higher levels of oxytocin.
Factors Beyond Hormones
Reasons that aren’t related to hormonal changes in either partner also play a part in a decreased sex drive. New moms experience being “over touched” by the end of the day with their new baby. Additionally, both parents are experiencing a lack of sleep and are exhausted.
There are a lot of lingering effects of pregnancy-related body changes and the birthing process that can affect the self-image of a woman after birth. Sometimes there are medical issues that happen after birth. Some women may experience pain during sex after giving birth and must have surgery to fix an episiotomy that was performed.
If a woman is experiencing pain during sex or doesn’t find it pleasurable, it can cause her partner to feel rejected. The distance between the two will begin to build. Each person will avoid talking about the situation instead of addressing the issue.
There are other psychological and emotional factors that can affect women after birth. Post-partum depression is an issue that is getting more awareness in recent years. Anxiety about being a mother and birth trauma can both play a part in decreased sexual desire.
All of these various issues, in conjunction with the hormonal shifts both partners experience, work together to create problems in the bedroom.
Ways to Combat Lack of Sex in Your Relationship
No blame should be associated with the lack of sexual desire of either partner. Acknowledging that there is an issue in your intimacy and wanting to do something about it is a huge step.
Lots of new moms put everyone else’s needs above their own. Taking the time to do something for themselves, even if it’s just going to a café to read a book, can make all the difference.
Some women joke about how they find it attractive if their husband vacuums or makes dinner. It’s definitely not a joke – resentment can start to build up between partners, especially if one isn’t doing their share of responsibilities. Having your partner do household chores can improve the way you feel about them.
Being able to talk about it with your partner is vital. Recognizing what a woman just went through during pregnancy and post-birth is important. Their partner needs to know they’re not being rejected.
Talking about intimacy issues can be hard between partners, but addressing the problem is important. Working with a therapist can help you navigate your sexual relationship with your partner. You can go as an individual or with your partner.
During a sex therapy session, you’ll talk about your concerns and feelings. You’ll explore your sex drive, sexual function, and other topics. Therapy sessions are based on each person’s needs, setting the pace based on what feels comfortable for you.
Find Help as New Parents
The time right after bringing a new baby into your life is hard for new parents. You have a small bundle of joy that needs your attention every waking moment. It’s understandable to not find time for yourselves and connect with your partner as you adjust to your new life.
You don’t have to go through this journey alone. Our team at Be Well Therapy Group is here to help you talk things out with your partner in a safe environment. Contact us today for an appointment.
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