After I gave birth to our first child, I realized very quickly that motherhood would not be an easy role to fulfill. My body was weak. I was exhausted as I stepped into this new season of my life.
It took months to adjust to nursing and late-night feedings. I tried to comfort a colicky baby—which feels impossible—all while my body recuperated from bringing that baby into the world.
Although I deeply loved my husband and was grateful for the opportunity to experience the miracle of having a child with him, meeting the baby’s needs consumed my heart. And definitely my body.
It was difficult for me to see my husband’s needs at all. Sex after baby wasn’t even a thought for a long time. I unintentionally pushed my husband to the side while I tried to figure out what I was supposed to be doing as a mom.
Kids change things
The transition into motherhood may have been a bit of a shock I was not prepared for. But my gratefulness surpassed any difficulties we faced.
After a handful of conversations with my husband, we talked about the importance of not forgetting about each other. We also knew we were in a season of learning. So we were patient with each other, eager and excited to see how God would use this change to mature us.
Now we have four little ones. That inexperienced start feels long ago. Still, I’m sure you can imagine all of the areas of life that having four children, ages 6 and under, can affect.
One of those areas is sex. But we had to figure it out.
Be willing to try sex after baby
I struggled with a lot of fear when it came to sex after baby! After every single pregnancy, I was so afraid that sex might be painful. This may not be every woman’s first response, but it was mine.
I had to work at overcoming this fear. Because if I avoided confronting it, I would end up avoiding sexual intimacy altogether. Which is what I did after my first two postpartum experiences.
That avoidance caused tension and disconnected us in our marriage.
In more recent postpartum periods, I learned to overcome this fear quicker by giving it to God. I prayed often, asking Him to help me embrace sexual intimacy again. As well as asking Him for a pain-free experience.
Once I gave my worry and our intimacy to God, then I had to try! I had to be willing to go there with my husband.
Honestly, I have experienced times that were uncomfortable or even painful. But I have also been surprised at other times that sex didn’t hurt at all.
My point here is that I could have let my fear keep me from it altogether. Or I could confront the fear by engaging with my husband in sex after baby. And then we could work through my real needs after knowing if there was actual pain or not. Instead of living in the what ifs.
Embrace the new normal
It was important that I welcomed our new normal as a family. Including how my husband and I would view having sex after baby.
A handful of differences in my body became noticeable to me as I jumped back into sex after each baby. I realized quickly that I could choose to be frustrated by these new changes, or I could embrace the changes as my new normal without expectation that things would go back exactly as they were before having children.
I had to embrace my body in order to care for it. I cannot just avoid it, which is easy to do when I’m busy taking care of a family. I had to help my body during critical postpartum healing. I have to pay attention what it needs. Then I have to continue learning to be okay with the differences that are my new normal.
By accepting these differences, I am able to make the most of my intimate experiences with my husband. Then I can be more intentional about anything I need to do to take care of myself moving forward.
After our third baby, I avoided telling my husband that I was wrestling with a lack of desire for sex after baby … for quite awhile. When the gap of time between our sexual encounters grew, my husband addressed the issue. It hurt him that I didn’t communicate where I was much earlier on.
I learned it is crucial that I let my husband know what I’m feeling and thinking. Especially if there are things holding me back from sexual intimacy.
We will be together less often at different times for various reasons. But it is important to talk about it to keep each other on the same page. Sharing our hearts with each other and being good listeners has been a key to having the strong marriage we have today. (We talk about it here.)
Hear each other out
Maybe you see something from one vantage point and your husband from another. (My husband shares his thoughts about sex after baby here.) It is not about who is right or wrong. Rather, it is about truly listening to each other and understanding what each of you are going through. Be willing to talk about what you are learning through your experience.
Lastly, pray together. Going before God, especially for marriage, is a humbling experience. Keep God at the center of it all, because He cares for you and He will help you endure!
Looking back now, and given the chance to encourage myself, I would tell that new mom to stop worrying so much about sex after baby. Take naps whenever possible. And do not ignore the truth that my husband is my husband, who doesn’t want to be neglected.
Copyright © 2019 Jennifer Smith. All rights reserved.
Aaron and Jennifer Smith share personal stories of failure and victory in Christ through their books, blogs, and online ministries. They’ve been married for 12 years and have 4 children. Check out their latest Marriage After God site. Find them on social media @MarriageAfterGod @HusbandRevolution and @Unveiledwife.