First comes love, then comes baby, then goes romance?! It’s inevitable that after baby your romantic relationship will slightly change, but it doesn’t mean it has to suffer. Trying to maintain intimacy with your partner may be the last thing on your mind after a long day with your baby or kids, but it’s important to foster that closeness. After all, the happier you are with your partner, the happier you’ll be as a mom, and the happier your baby will be.
Curious as to how to bring back the "sexy" (without the sex) after baby? Below, are some easy tips and ideas!
You have probably experienced a day like this, or at least close to this: little to any sleep, a clingy baby, a needy dog, and finally, just when you settle in for the night your partner is looking for a little romance. Ugh, no. You are just touched out and any kind of sex is simply not happening. Sound familiar, right? Well, thankfully there are other solutions to physical contact when sex is off the table.
The first thing is to acknowledge that loss in sexual interest is so, so normal after having a baby. There is a huge drop in hormones (namely progesterone), if you’re breastfeeding, you have a baby on your boob all day, and well, you’re probably not getting too much sleep! So, yeah, sort of easy to understand how all these things contribute to the loss of feeling sexy. And, this is even before factoring in your job and other responsibilities! The second thing is to communicate these feelings to your partner so that they don’t internalize your disinterest as rejection. It’s not them and it’s not you, but instead it's the whack of crazy, post-baby hormones and feelings that take over. With an understanding and compassionate partner, you’ll both get through this er, drought together.
In the meantime, there are so many other physical ways to maintain intimacy between you and your partner. Physical contact like holding hands, giving massages, taking a bath together, hugging, and cuddling all release the feel-good hormone, Oxytocin. Known also as the “cuddle” and “love” hormone, Oxytocin promotes feelings of relaxation as well as a reduction in stress. Oh, and it’s the same hormone that is released when you orgasm. Crazy, right?!
So, while you wait to get back to yourself (and I promise in time you will) indulging in some sensual, physical touch will undoubtedly create closeness between you and your partner.
Saying Thank You
Did you know that gratitude is the biggest factor in contributing to a happy relationship? The University of Georgia conducted a study in which they interviewed 500 couples regarding financial wellbeing, spousal communication, and how often they expressed gratitude to each other. What they found is that expression of spousal gratitude was the consistent predictor of marital quality. So, essentially, saying “thank you” holds way more power than we think.
My husband and I are actually pretty good with saying “thank you” to each other on a daily basis, but it definitely didn’t come naturally at first. To ingrain it into our routine, we made it a habit to thank each other for every task, gesture, and favor, both big and small. “Thank you for washing the dishes”, “Thank you for picking up the groceries”, Thank you for filling up the car with gas”…you get the idea. To others around us I’m sure it was super annoying to hear, but it’s amazing how such an easy and simple thing to say has had a profound impact on our happiness.
It’s so easy to thank strangers in our everyday life, but yet we sometimes forget to thank the most important people. Exchanging these words of gratitude each day will help create a deep sense of appreciation between you and your partner, and in turn, maintain intimacy without expending that much energy.
After having my daughter, the only way I was getting out of the house for a date night is if a crane came and hoisted me off the couch! I was just not up for getting ready for an Instagram-worthy dinner.
The thing is, as millennial working moms, we’re already so busy juggling jobs, children, and a myriad of other responsibilities that the expectation of having these grand, weekly date nights is an added stressor we just don’t need. Now, I’m not saying to never leave the house to enjoy a night on the town; in fact, I do suggest you try and make it at least a monthly or bi-monthly occurrence, but to think that a date night only counts when you leave the house is unrealistic—and also hella expensive.
Instead, try scheduling date nights at home with different themes or activities! It’s so easy to fall into the sweats-takeout-Netflix routine that it can become pretty predictable and boring, pretty fast. The key is trying new things together so that staying at home doesn’t become stale. Some ideas to try are: wine and cheese pairing, sushi making, full-body massages, having an indoor picnic, and playing a new board game, to name a few. Another important tip is to try to refrain from talking about your child(ren)! Give each other ten minutes to discuss anything child-related but after that, it’s all about mom and dad. The goal here is to try new things, be relaxed and above all, have fun! Intimacy and closeness between you and your partner should naturally follow.
How do you and your partner maintain intimacy after having baby? Do you exchange thank-you's regularly? What are your thoughts on at-home date nights, is it something you would try?