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Sex and relationships when you are a parent

3-minute read

Parenting can put a lot of pressure on your relationship, including your sex life. Many couples find their sexual relationship changes after the birth of their child. It's important to keep communicating with your partner, and find ways to stay connected and intimate that work for both of you.

Maintaining a healthy sexual relationship

In the time leading up to the birth of your child, you may not have given much thought to how becoming a parent might influence your relationship.

But in fact, one of the most difficult challenges new parents face is learning how to make room in their relationship for the baby. Or, to put it another way, to find room for their relationship with a baby.

It’s likely that some of the adjustments you need to make are to do with your sexual relationship.

Having a baby doesn’t mean your sex life is over, but you may find that the kind of sex you have and how often you have it changes.

Sex after having a child

After the birth of your child, it may be a while before you feel ready to start having sex again. Many women feel sore and tired immediately after the baby is born, and that tiredness continues with round-the-clock feeding in the early weeks. Hormonal changes in new mothers can affect how they feel about sex, while new fathers can feel worried about what’s right for their partner.

Further down the track, you may feel physically and emotionally ready for sex, but stress, tiredness and the responsibility of being a parent can take their toll on your libido (sex drive).

While you’re working your way through any uncertainty or difficulty in your sexual relationship, it’s important to keep the lines of communication open with your partner.

Communicating with your partner

Some couples find they feel a bit withdrawn or become distant from one another while adjusting to parenthood. For example, one partner may feel left out or unappreciated, or resentful of their partner’s reaction to the new situation.

Talking with your partner about how you feel, and how they feel, will help you understand what’s happening in your relationship. Good communication is also important to help you stay connected and find ways of maintaining intimacy with one another.

Finding the time

Finding time and energy to spend with your partner can be more challenging when you’re a parent – especially a new parent – but it’s still important for your relationship. Taking time to connect with your partner doesn’t need to be complicated.

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Share a meal together when your baby is asleep.
  • Go for a walk together — take your baby with you if you can’t find a babysitter.
  • Phone your partner during the day to see how they’re going.
  • Start small — start with going out for coffee, and work your way up to longer outings.
  • Plan your time — plan a date, find a babysitter and make it happen.

Relationship advice

If you or your partner need help, you can ask your doctor for advice. You may be referred to a counsellor or therapist.

You can also call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby on 1800 882 436 for advice and support.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: March 2021

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