Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash
Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

Newborns and Intimacy


How can couples achieve intimacy with a newborn in the house? How can we keep the spark going?


After the birth of your new baby, the interest in sexual and intimate relations can be very different for each person. Some want to resume sexual activity as soon as possible. While others experience a decrease in sexual desire. There can be many reasons for a change in sexual and intimate desire: Postpartum depression, fatigue, preoccupation with the baby, fear of discomfort during intercourse, tension or anxiety about new responsibilities, and hormonal changes. Also, the birth process can cause several temporary physiological changes (e.g., decreased vaginal lubrication, vaginal discomfort, or tender breasts).

Before you resume your sexual relationship, it is first necessary to talk with your doctor. Ask specific questions about how long you should wait before intercourse and what you might expect physically. Your doctor can best judge your healing time because he or she is familiar with your unique situation.

After a doctor consultation, the key to a couple's sexual and intimate relationship after the birth of their child is not how active their sex life is. Instead, it is very important to understand the needs of each person now that the baby is home. As we mentioned in question one, it is necessary to communicate about and understand these needs. Ask each other questions like, “What would make our intimate relationship a ten to you?”, “What do you need from me sexually right now?” It is important to really listen to how your mate responds to these questions. We encourage you not to argue or degrade his or her responses. Remember, this is what your mate needs from you sexually right now. There is no right or wrong answer. If you receive an answer that is below your expectations, honor your spouse even though you may not agree. A positive intimate or sexual relationship stems from a positive relationship first. Once your mate feels like you are honoring her needs, she can better respond to your sexual needs, as well.

Learning how to balance parenting, marriage, and intimacy can be very difficult. In addition to discovering each other's love language, we strongly encourage couples to employ a regular baby-sitter to provide you with time alone together. Although separation from your new-born or child might make you sick to think about, you need this time alone. Couples, especially mothers, need to get some time to recover from all the strains of parenting. Even if this means just an early dinner, short work-out at the gym, or visit to the local mall, use the time to strengthen your relationship. Find a reliable baby-sitter, drop your child off with a family member or friend, or join a baby-sitting co-op. Whatever you both decide, just do it! Your relationship depends upon understanding what each other needs to feel loved and then getting time alone to practice these things.

Greg Smalley, PsyD
Website | + posts

Dr. Smalley previously served as the director of Marriage Ministries for The Center for Healthy Relationships. He is the author or co-author of twelve books concerning marriages and families, and currently serves as the executive director of Marriage and Family Formation at Focus on the Family.

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