‘oh baby oh baby…’ AFTER BABY!
I work with an increasing number of parents who see me after they have added a baby or babies to their relationship.
The predominant goal of seeking me out is to engage a mission of recovery of their relationship, a recovery of themselves and sort through what is now… and what their future could hold.
Parents see me with a sense of grief, a sense of guilt due to the grief they hold and utter confusion at times.
This grief is based mostly around themselves and their relationship.
The relationship they had no longer exists in its’ entirety – it is forever changed – due to the arrival of a beautiful little sleep depriver. The most common discussion points with me are around priority of time for each other. Whereas “that” time is now being spent attending to other (often infant troubleshooting) areas. No longer is communication concentrated on and around each other – topics now consist of scheduling of bath and feed times and the literal consistency of bowel movements of said sleep depriver.
So not only does the relationship see changes; as I mentioned; there is a grief experienced on an individual basis. The grief explained is often intertwined with guilt. “Why do I feel this way when I wanted to have children, I chose to do this and yet I feel sad/ a sense of loss about myself – who I was and now who I think I am.” My patients often talk about the confidence of ‘self’ prior to becoming a parent – they knew who they were and were somewhat comfortable with that, now… the confidence is not as high due to these uncharted waters. The priority of thought is now not on themselves or their relationship it is elsewhere which often does not cover either of these two things – this can be confronting and create new uncertainties such as:
Who am I… now… that I am parent? What does that mean to me? What does that mean to my partner? What do I feel about them as a parent? What do I think about my body? What does that mean to my relationship? And what does that mean to my sex and intimacy in myself and my relationship?
These are big questions… they require a lot of thought, direction and guidance and honesty.
Let us concentrate on one question (no doubt the elephant in the room).
How can I keep sex and intimacy in my relationship after the baby arrives?
It does not matter if your sleep depriver has landed earth side or is still waiting for their due date – speak to your baby making teammate about how they feel. Check in with them – even if it is an incredibly simple question –
“Give me 3 things you are loving about ‘this’ right now?”
“Give me 3 things you are concerned/ scared/ troubled/ confused about?”
Do this regularly!
This opens Pandora’s box of thoughts/ feelings/ words which allows you to gauge how things are being interpreted and what can be offered outside the schedule of bathing, burping and bowel movements.
This could lead to concerns of voicing “I don’t want to have sex with you because I have just seen what you have gone through and I don’t want to hurt you” or “I don’t want you to see me naked and touch me – as I know my body was not the same as it was, and I am worried you won’t be attracted to me”. This provides an opportunity to have a dialogue where there is no guessing of the other’s perception, this level of truth provides an incredible level of intimacy and leads to a sense of safety within a relationship and through extension – yourself. Your baby making teammate can have the opportunity to remain exactly that – your teammate.
Research has offered that when participants within relationships experience a high level of empathetic communication, participants report a high level of intimacy and regular engagement of sex and other acts of intimacy. Empathic communication is key across all aspects of a relationship. The practice of this type of communication outside the proverbial bedroom – often increases the communication in sex and other acts of intimacy – which in turn increases overall sexual satisfaction in both self and partnered intimate activities. I often say to my patients – empathetic communication serves as the best lubricant.
If you would like to explore this topic further with me, please contact me via my website www.assertivesexology.com.au/contact and please look out for events held this year at my practice – as this topic will also be offered for a more in depth discussion and education opportunities.