There are likely thousands of men counting down at this very moment to the six-week mark—the day that doc clears their wife to get busy again after baby. But not all new moms are so eager to jump back in the sack: One in ten women wait more than six months to resume sex after childbirth, according to a new British Pregnancy Advisory Service survey. “Six weeks isn’t a magic number,” says Cynthia Brincat, M.D., director of the Mother’s Pelvic Wellness Program at Loyola University. “It’s a number that the medical community has come up with.”
And it’s not simply a matter of physically healing (which, by the way, doesn’t always happen as fast as expected). New moms often struggle with exhaustion, a lack of lubrication, or lactation during lovemaking. “We have to change pretty much everything that we are when we become mothers,” says Amanda Edwards, a licensed psychotherapist and author of The Mother’s Guide to Sex After Babies. “Understanding and embracing our sexuality as a mother can be very challenging.” The good news: There are easy ways to overcome the most common post-baby sex saboteurs. Read on to find how.
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You’re Tired All The Time
When you’re up all night with a crying baby, the last thing you want to do is meet the needs of another person. “It’s really hard not to just say you’re tired and roll over—to get every minute of sleep that you can,” says Edwards. In fact, exhaustion was one of the primary barriers to sex after childbirth in the new British Pregnancy Advisory Service survey. “That sleep deprivation can last anywhere from the first couple of months to the first couple of years, depending on how well your child sleeps through the night,” says Edwards.
Save your sex life: How long does sex really take—maybe 15 minutes, max? “Investing that time in your relationship and your own physical pleasure is worth sacrificing that sleep time,” says Edwards. Forget right-before-bed sex, and aim for morning or naptime hookups, suggests Linda Brubaker, M.D., an ob-gyn and female pelvic medicine specialist at Loyola University. Even better: Make a sex date on Saturday mornings before your little one starts stirring. “People resist sex scheduling, because it doesn’t feel spontaneous,” says Edwards. “But when you have that date you can both look forward to, it’s a game changer for your relationship.”