New dads don’t enjoy much action. “It can be quite a shock,” says Jacqueline Hellyer. “For women as well as men.”
Hellyer, a leading sex therapist and relationship coach, is talking about what happens to your love life after a baby arrives. According to one poll, it takes a new mum an average of 18 months to feel sexy again after the birth. That’s 547 days (not that we’re counting).
“This is not going to be the peak of your sex life as a couple,” Hellyer admits. “In fact, it will probably be the least sexually dynamic part of your life together.”
But that’s not a reason to despair. If you navigate this period the right way, Hellyer says “you can actually deepen your sexual connection with your wife”. The secret is to change your mindset with the help of this three-stage plan.
Step 1: Anticipate – know what you’re in for
For at least six weeks after giving birth, sex is almost impossible for a new mum. Her body needs to heal after the often harrowing ordeal of bringing a baby into the world.
But after that, the mere possibility of sex in the following months will have to circumnavigate your partner’s fatigue and probable disinterest. “Little kids are fucking exhausting,” says Hellyer, a mother-of-three. “They just are.”
“For those first few months, I always encourage the guy to just focus on the wife and support her as much as possible. What I say to the women is to allow the support. She needs to accept your help.”
Forewarned is forearmed. The bottom line: treat any sex in the first six months as a bonus
Step 2: Accept – it’s happening, like it or not
Instead of getting resentful because your sex-life is a glum shadow of its former glory, work on keeping the embers smoldering. Your goal here is to maintain a sense of intimacy with your partner.
Hellyer’s advice is to use this time as an opportunity to expand your sexual repertoire from one that’s mainly focused on intercourse.
“Change your definitions! Rather than be disappointed because you’re not swinging from the chandeliers, broaden your concept of sharing that sexual energy – that playfulness, care, romance, and cheekiness. You need to try and bring a little bit of it back into your relationship.”
The obvious way of rekindling that spark is through small acts of physical affection. Greet and farewell with meaningful eye contact and kisses. Gently touch your girl as you walk her past in the hall. Don’t forget the value of flirting.
“You have to keep talking as well,” Hellyer says. “Check in with her every day. When the bub finally goes down, sit next to her on the sofa. Give her a foot massage and ask her how she’s going.”
During this stage, Hellyer encourages her client to focus their efforts on strengthening the closeness between them.
“If the two of you understand that’s what really beautiful here is connection and it doesn’t really matter what your genitals are doing, then you’re going to be creating the kind of intimacy that A). means the genital connection isn’t as necessary because it already feels pretty good, and B). you’ll actually be more likely to have the genital connection because you’re doing the things that’ll transition you into it.”
Step 3: Adapt – make the most of it
Although things may be progressing, sex in this phase of your relationship probably still won’t be waking up the neighbours. “But it can exist and even rise to the heady heights of ‘good’,” Hellyer insists.
What you need to try and do is adapt your moves to accommodate and encourage what remaining levels of desire she currently has.
“You have to find a new way of being sexual and this applies if you are going to get genital as well,” Hellyer says. “She might not feel like having an orgasm because she’s tired. She might not want to do certain things. It’s a time to discover tender love-making. You can enjoy really simple sex.”
If that doesn’t sound very exciting, just remember: you’re playing the long game here and setting the foundations for future hi-jinks.
“When you can build that tender connection and support it actually deepens your sexuality,” Hellyer says. “Then you’re more likely to get the raunch back and have a random encounter that’s really good.”
To buy Jacqueline Hellyer’s e-book Great Sex After Kids go to www.jacquelinehellyer.com