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How Soon After Childbirth Should I Feel Like Having Sex Again? 

Dear Athena,

Before we had children, my husband and I had a very active and intimate sex life. After the birth of our first child, let's just say that finding the time to get it on became more difficult. He was ready, but it took me more time to feel sexy — about a year. This drove my husband crazy and created a rift between us, but it changed with the help of couples counseling. Now we are about to have our second child, and I'm worried the same thing will happen again, to the detriment of my marriage. How long is too long to not want sex after giving birth?

Sincerely,

Bedtime After Baby

Dear BAB,

Having a baby changes everything. The shape and feel of your body, your perspective, attitude, taste buds, hormones, sleep patterns, tolerance level and, yes, your sex life are all tested and redefined as you adjust to your new life. And change is so much harder when you resist it. We women put a lot of pressure on ourselves to "get back to normal" after childbirth, but that "normal" must necessarily be different. The life you had before simply is no more. And that's OK — that is normal.

Your doctor or midwife — hell, your own body — can tell you when it's physically safe to have sex again. But no one can predict the number of days, weeks or months before you'll feel like having sex; every person's experience is different. When your second baby arrives, life in your household will be different not only for you and your husband but also for baby No. 1, and you're likely to be even more distracted. You and your partner will have to work together to develop new routines and allow for the unexpected. Talking about it in advance and making peace with the inevitable disruption will help you prepare and give both of you the confidence, understanding and patience you'll need to move forward.

Toward that end, since counseling was successful for you the first time around, how about being proactive and making an appointment with that counselor now, before the new baby comes? Share your concerns in a familiar and supportive space. Be up front about what you need from your partner, and listen to what he needs from you. And don't lose your sense of humor! Sometimes we just have to laugh at ourselves.

Communicating and being open with each other is the best way for you and your husband to create a new version of your sex life after children. If you try to stifle your feelings and just put up with sex to please him, he will know it and you will both become resentful. And that will make it harder to re-establish trust, much less a healthy sex life.

Here's something else for you to consider: Perhaps what makes you feel sexy has changed, too. Asking your husband to help you explore that might turn out to be a turn-on. Worried about your postpartum body? Give him the chance to show you he's still attracted to you — maybe more than ever. Remember, you are in this together. The more solidarity you feel, the easier it will be to spark the old flame and get intimate again.

Yours,

Athena

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