Renewing Intimacy After Childbirth

For new parents, intimacy after childbirth can be challenging. Some tips for Indian women and men wishing to renew closeness with the spouse.

For new parents, intimacy after childbirth can be challenging. Some tips for Indian women and men wishing to renew closeness with the spouse.

Research reveals that intimacy is the nucleus around which communication, parental role adjustments and family resources revolve.  That is, if partners can establish intimacy, especially after childbirth, they can cope effectively with the other important aspects of the relationship.

Intimacy includes sharing common goals and values, sharing one another’s experiences emotionally apart from sharing sensuality and sexuality with your partner. Most couples report tiredness, lack of time, fear about pain, poor body image and resentment towards their spouses as some of the reasons for lack of interest in re-establishing intimacy after childbirth.  4 tips to enhance intimacy with your partner after childbirth:

Intimacy after childbirth: Tip 1 – Deal with jealousy and loneliness

Many new parents report feeling lonely and even jealous that the new member of the family gets more attention than they do. Jealousy is a very natural emotion in these situations. After all it was just you and your partner all this while and now you have to make some major adjustments to the way you live with each other. Taking time to bond with your partner, together as a family and as a couple is important.

Intimacy after childbirth: Tip 2 – Work on your body image

Many new mothers look away from the mirror, they dislike the stretch marks and the flabby stomach that result from childbirth. But the post-pregnancy body and tigress stripes as I like to call them, are witness to our journey, a journey of so many emotions that we felt all at once or one after another. None of us are photo-shopped images, and none of us are the same person we were at a certain time in the past. Embrace growth, embrace change and embrace your tigress stripes.

Take some time everyday or as often as you can, to look at your body in front of the mirror and without any judgements just observe. Touch your body gently and introduce yourself to this body that is yours. Become aware of points of pain and pleasure in your body. This also helps when you are sensually intimate with your partner; it’s where you can use this information to guide your partner to the areas that you do feel pleasure now.

Start strengthening your body gently. You can get in touch with a post-partum yoga instructor or contact a fitness instructor for the same.

Fear of pain may keep couples away from intercourse for a while. Often men report that upon watching the birthing of their babies they are blown away by the intense pain their partners experience, this might impede intimacy and intercourse. The same is true for women too, after enduring stitches and birthing the idea of intercourse might seem painful. Remember that this notion is only fear after all, not the entire truth. Sexual intimacy is not just a physiological impulse but also a psychological one at best, hence it is important to acknowledge the fear and move on.

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Intimacy after childbirth: Tip 3 – Be aware of the kind of intimacy you share

Couples share intellectual, emotional, experiential, sensual and sexual intimacy; one of these kinds of intimacy is predominant between any couple.  Enhancing the area that you were first comfortable with, and then moving on to other kinds of intimacy you share with your partner helps.

Think about what areas of intimacy were predominant in your relationship before your baby arrived. If you loved having a good conversation about politics, literature or you loved reading books out-loud to each other, try to find time to re-establish that intimacy. Think about how you share emotional intimacy with your spouse. Some couples don’t necessarily talk to each other about their emotions often but when they do, they find a deep connection and understanding.  Emotional intimacy is different for every couple, just like it is with the other kinds of intimacies, so think about how you connected with your spouse emotionally before marriage or childbirth and begin to establish it. Remember not to expect from each other something that doesn’t fit who you are or something that society tells you to expect.

Intimacy after childbirth: Tip 4 – Realign notions about physical intimacy

Physically and mentally new moms  may not be ready for sex. Often that is the last thing on our minds. Sometimes, new dads may not be ready for sex.

It is important to remember that the end result of physical intimacy need not be penetrative intercourse, and the end result of initiating sex need not be orgasm.  Create opportunities for gentle embrace, hugs, kisses, spooning and even non-penetrative sex. Experts suggest that mutual expression of fondness enhances intimacy and results in stable marriages. Aim to add a touch of celebration in your days – you can perhaps get a family member or friend to babysit your little one, while you go out for dinner or watch a good film.  A kiss before you run off to care for your baby or a gesture of kindness will go a long way.

Think about ways to strengthen affection between each other. This not only enhances your intimacy but also helps you cope with day-to-day struggles more effectively.

It also helps to remember that sex and really enjoying each other’s company for that matter, does not come naturally, especially when you have a little one to focus on. Ensure that not everything is centred around your baby, that you maintain an adult relationship with your spouse.

Some couples prefer to plan ahead , while others love the surprise element . Choose your style and ensure you give each other time. The use of contraceptive methods, if you don’t plan to get pregnant immediately, is important. Due to hormonal shifts in your body, you may also need to use lubricants.

While it is easy to be in denial about sexual dissatisfaction, nothing will change without staying open to trying new things, reinforcing what you like and encouraging communication around what works for you both and when.  For instance, think about what you liked before childbirth, convey to your partner “Remember the time when ____? I would love to recreate it”. Talk to your partner about what is difficult (perhaps fear of pain or perception of your body), “I am afraid that…” or even explain to him what areas feel especially sensitive and vulnerable.  Being able to voice your fears and having an honest conversation and support around it from your spouse, is something that you have to DO, not something that will happen on its own.

As a couple, focus on what works and do more of it, rather than focusing on and amplifying what is not working.

*Photo credit: Kit “Anne” (Used under the Creative Commons Attribution License.)


About the Author

Aarathi Selvan

Aarathi Selvan is a clinical psychologist, Mindfulness guide and a Contemplative artist. Trained in the US and India, Aarathi loves working with women, families, and individuals. She sees clients in her private practice and leads read more...

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