Life with a Baby
"Is there sex after a baby?" This is a question parents find themselves asking all too often. With parents' lives now revolving around their baby's needs and demanding schedule, sexual intimacy and spontaneity may be difficult to achieve or disappear altogether. Parental fatigue, a husband's jealousy of mother-child intimacy and a new mother's confusion and anxiety about her own sexuality in her marriage are just a few of the factors that might contribute to a couple's strained sexual relationship.
New parents need to stay connected sexually, not allowing their radically changed family life to neuter their prior sexual intimacy. As long as first-time parents make a priority of nurturing and maintaining their physical intimacy and sexuality, their sexual relationship will adjust to "life with baby."
Showing Affection in Front of Kids
Children should never be exposed to "heavy duty" sexual activity between their parents. But kids who see parental displays of some sexuality and affection -- a kiss, a loving touch, and a warm embrace -- receive valuable lessons in the relationship between love, sex, and sexuality. The most important sexual education for young children centers on love. Even very young children pick up on the good feelings attached to their parents' natural affectionate touches and embraces.
Sharing the Family Bed
Kids should never be exposed to their parents' sexual activity while sharing the family bed. This rule should not prevent them from observing a hug, an affectionate touch, or a kiss good night. The existence of a family bed should not impair a couple's sex life. You can still maintain a healthy sex life, replete with spontaneity and passion. You just have to be creative.
The bedroom is not the only lovemaking room in the house. Family bedtime is also not the only time that you can make love. Babysitters can take your kids for a long walk around the neighborhood. If you have only one child sleeping with you in the family bed, you can move her to another room after she has fallen asleep, returning her to the family bed, if you choose, after your lovemaking.
Many family bed couples have found that the inventiveness needed to keep their love life alive has magnified the focus and intensity of their physical intimacy. As with most things in life, if something is really important to you, you'll find the means and the time to do it. The family bed and a couple's fulfilling sexual relationship certainly can be maintained and celebrated in your family life.
What if Your Child Catches You in "The Act?"
Most parents will experience a child's unexpected interruption of their lovemaking. Your young child will probably be confused by her discovery, depending on what and how long she observed. You will certainly be embarrassed.
Fear not - what she saw or heard will not permanently damage your child. Addressing the situation immediately is the appropriate response. Shaming and blaming your child or loudly demanding that she "Get out of this room, NOW!" are not healthy reactions. Upon being interrupted, collect your wits, take a few deep breaths and engage your child in conversation. You might simply ask her what she saw when she entered your room. Before you offer an elaborate explanation of your actions, it's wise to get a baseline reading of what she actually took in. Of course, you need to respond to any questions or comments she offers about what she saw.
Using language that fits your child's age and stage of development, explain that sometimes a mom and dad show how much they love each other by holding and touching each other in special ways, in private. You must explain that neither parent is ever hurt in this activity, especially if you suspect that your child heard sounds or observed sexual activity that could be misperceived as painful. This may also be a fine time to remind your child that she needs to knock before coming into mom and dad's closed room. If your child is at an age, four or five, where you still have not told her about the relationship between sex and babies, this event might provide you with a natural opportunity to do so.