After babies, it’s easy for sex to feel, well, less sexy. But there are plenty of ways to remind the mother of your children that there are more than just obvious, biological reasons to get down. Dr. Ursula Ofman, a sex therapist and licensed clinical psychologist who has been practicing in New York City for more than 30 years, shared her six go-to to tips to get her in the mood after starting your family together.
Understand the Science
First, being able to create the mood begins with knowing why you have to create it in the first place. “Being a new mother is a wonderful and draining experience,” Ofman says. “One of the biggest obstacles for a new mother to feeling sexually interested is breastfeeding,” which sort of kills the mood. “But this does not mean she may not be interested in being convinced to have sex, but she may not be biologically driven to think about it.”
Another obstacle is the fact that a new mother spends most of her time having your new baby on or close to her body most of the day — so her interest in close, intimate contact may be more than met by her holding and nursing the infant. Remind her that your touch is different by holding her hand, rubbing her back, hugging, and kissing her as a way to keep romantic, affectionate touch in your relationship. “If you want to get physical, offer to give physical pleasure just to her, like a massage. Depending how she receives that, this massage can gradually be a bit erotically focused to see if she can feel interested in sexual feelings. Be aware to look for her lead in that and to not be too pushy.”
It’s All About “Outercourse”
“To some women, intercourse after giving birth can feel a bit physically uncomfortable, so penetrative sex may not be something a young mother wants to rush into,” Ofman says. For the first four to six weeks after childbirth, a woman can’t have sex, but oral sex and other forms of “outercourse” (like masturbation and stimulation of the clitoris) get the green light. Use these forms of sex as a way to keep things in the bedroom varied and feeling good — even after penetrative sex is back on the roster.
Give Her What She Really Wants
Space. “The best approach for the partner is to approach the situation respectfully by offering something to her that gives her space: a chance to nap, go to the gym, take a shower, go for a run — to do something for herself that reminds her that she is a person,” Offman says. “This will help her to get back to herself faster, and may also help her feel sexually interested again.” Whatever you do, show patience. “Often the male partner feels left out of the bonding that occurs so intensively between the infant and mother, and the urgency of their sexual approaches can be experienced as clawing and whiney. While this approach may very well get her attention and lead to her agreeing to sex, it sets up a pattern that may make it difficult to recover from.” Ultimately, you want your partner to want sex and to be into it, rather than going along for the sake of peace in the home.
Know Your Role
Men are very important family members, and their concern, gentle leadership, and protectiveness is particularly appreciated by a new mother. “It is hard for her to look out for her own needs in those weeks and months after having a baby, and to have a partner who is mindful and helpful along those lines is marvelous for her — it can really strengthen a relationship,” Ofman says. So how to put that into practice? “A lot of women have told me that their partners taking care of the kitchen cleanup after dinner is the best foreplay. Food for thought…”
Do Something Different
Try out new things you and your partner might want to explore: a new position, a new lubricant, a vibrator, or an erotic story to read together. “Many couples are always engaging in the same sexual choreography,” Ofman says. “This is in some ways a good thing since it usually represents the repertoire items that work best for both partners. However, sometimes it is a good thing to try something new and take some small sexual risks with each other to keep things dynamic.”