It’s no surprise your sex life will look different after your partner gives birth — at least temporarily. Between all of the physical, hormonal and emotional changes she’s dealing with, to the extreme exhaustion she is now facing, and settling into her new life with your baby, sex may not be as exciting, spontaneous or pleasurable as it once was for either of you.
In fact, after the birth of a baby men admitted to experiencing shifts in their sexual desire related to fatigue, stress and time, a study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found.
Take heed, guys. Your sex life can be great again. But for now, here are some tips that will get you through.
1. Be understanding
Before you even think about having sex again, it’s important to understand what your partner is going through so you can re-establish intimacy.
Between non-stop feedings, diaper changes and everything else she has to do to care for your newborn, there’s a good chance she’s exhausted. Most moms don’t sleep for more than two or three hours at a time and they often don’t have — or ask for help.
“Today’s modern women want to take care of their babies,” Dr. Hilda Hutcherson, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, told Fox News. “There was a time when women would hand their babies off to someone else.”
Your partner may also still have pain from vaginal tears or an episiotomy, which is a procedure during the second stage of labor to facilitate delivery. If she’s breastfeeding, her chest may be tender and leaking, and she might also have cracked, bleeding nipples.
Because breastfeeding causes estrogen levels to be low too, vaginal dryness can make sex uncomfortable, even painful. Prolactin, the hormone that’s released during breastfeeding, can also decrease libido and sexual pleasure.
2. Pitch in
Exhaustion will dampen her desire for sex, but studies suggest helping out with diaper changes, housework and meals can do a lot for your sex life, too.
In fact, when men pitched in, couples had sex more often and reported higher sexual satisfaction, a study in the Journal of Family Psychology found.
“I think that’s something that many women appreciate and can actually find the desire to want to connect more emotionally with their partner,” Chris Pegula, author of “Diaper Dude: The Ultimate Dad’s Guide to Surviving the First Two Years,” told Fox News.
Offer to care for the baby for a few hours so she can rest, do your best to pitch in, consider hiring a cleaning service or a meal delivery service, or ask a family member to help out.
Sex might be on your mind, but for most women to want sex, they need to feel emotionally connected.
If possible, plan a date night, do something active or catch a movie — sans baby — to re-establish that emotional connection.
4. Be honest
Although postpartum depression is usually associated with women, research in recent years suggests fathers can experience it too. In fact, a recent study in JAMA Psychiatry found that 4 percent of new dads experience symptoms of depression after the birth of a baby.
It’s normal to feel sad and depressed as you adjust to your new way of life, but your feelings likely have less to do with a lack of serotonin and more to do with grieving, Dr. Gary Brown, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Los Angeles, told Fox News.
Of course you love your partner and your baby, but it can be a challenge to realize that you now have to share your partner. Be honest with yourself and your partner, and keep the lines of communication open.
5. Be patient
After the six-week postpartum check-up, most women get the all-clear for sex. Although some are ready, for others, it could take up to year to feel desire again.
It can be tough to wait, but be patient and give her the time she needs. “Find other ways of enjoying each other or providing each other pleasure other than intercourse,” Hutcherson said.
6. Make her feel hot again
With all the attention now paid to your baby, many women start to see themselves more as mothers and less as sexual women.
With all of the changes that have happened to her body and the extra baby weight she’s carrying, she may not feel attractive anymore or even worry that her vagina isn’t as tight or desirable as it once was. “They assume that their partners can’t possibly see them as attractive anymore because they changed so much physically,” Hutcherson said.
To help her feel good about herself and more likely that she’ll want sex, shower her with kindness and compassion, and make sure she knows you still find her sexy.
7. Go with the flow
Recognize that sex may not come as naturally or be as steamy as it once was. In fact, it can almost be like the first time you ever had sex, especially if she’s in pain.
It’s also natural to feel guilty about having sex because you don’t want to hurt her or perhaps you feel uncomfortable being intimate with your new baby in the same room.
Continue to communicate, make time for each other and be flexible, and your sex life will be exciting again as it once was.
Julie Revelant is a health journalist and a consultant who provides content marketing and copywriting services for the healthcare industry. She's also a mom of two. Learn more about Julie at revelantwriting.com.