How do couples 'get the sex back' after childbirth?

There's a general wisdom out there that sex only belongs to the 'honeymoon stage' of a relationship, that after kids she loses desire and he just has to put up with it - the inevitable result of being in a long-term, committed relationship! In fact, a passionate, adventurous and satisfying sex life is not only achievable but really important for couples at any stage of life! There are, however, many things that can get in the way of intimacy, and it is wrong to assume that they will just sort themselves out over time.

For men as well as women, becoming parents can result in changes in self-perception and body-image, especially where a woman may have scars after a caesarean, whose breasts have changed from breastfeeding, and/or who may be finding it difficult to lose weight post-baby. She might think - I am a parent, not a young, childless (and therefore sexy) woman anymore, no longer desirable to my partner. For some men, it's hard to reconcile the roles of mother and sexy woman in the same person - especially as the media gives us 'sexed-down' images of mothers compared with the 'sexed-up' images of young and childless women. Martien Snellen, psychiatrist at the Mother-Baby Unit at the Mercy Hospital in Melbourne, has written entertainingly and engagingly about this issue in his recently released book "Rekindling your relationship after childbirth". Of course, issues such as postnatal depression, post-traumatic stress related to birth complications, or simply the physical trauma of an unanticipated medical procedure can also create challenges when rediscovering each other sexually post-baby. And of course, let's not forget the challenges to intimacy when both parents are juggling the demands of work, parenting, getting the chores done, time for themselves, time as a couple etc etc etc!So often the 'time as a couple' is the part that falls off the agenda in deference to seemingly more pressing concerns. There are many challenges, but solutions as well! Till next post, Vivienne

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