Sex After Baby – A Status Report

Sex After Baby Betty Herbert

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I am sitting in a restaurant, largely minding my own business. Bert is busy making some kind of a paste from a corn tortilla and a large quantity of dribble. The usual conversation strikes up with the women on the table next to me: Isn’t he bonny? What a smiler! How old is he?

And then, apropos of absolutely nothing, one of the women leans over and says, ‘The sex gets better after they turn two. You can pretty much forget it until then.’

By the time I have gathered my thoughts, she’s up and out of the door. I’m kind of touched, really. She’s basically taken the trouble to answer the question that’s on everyone’s lips after they have a baby.

Well maybe everyone. A friend of mine caught a couple doing it in the maternity ward, just six hours after their baby was born. I can only offer my awe-struck applause at such erotic enthusiasm.

Because, honestly, the true miracle of birth is that people manage to get pregnant more than once. The post-partum world is replete with reasons not to have sex.

For a start, there’s the fact that your body has been subject to what looks and feels like a small explosion. Sure, the stitches have all healed up, but it appears that these days, my vagina has corners. It’s a totally different shape. I am optimistically hoping that this represents some kind of a pleasurable penile assault course, but I am frankly too afraid to ask.

That’s if you get that far. It’s hard to feel particularly sexy when you have such angry, red and extensive stretch-marks that it looks like someone set your pubes alight. A few people have suggested to me that they are ‘mummy marks’, ‘tiger stripes’ or just the outward manifestation of every hiccup and wriggle I felt when I was pregnant. Those people are idiots.

And then there’s the tiredness; or in my case, it’s better termed ennui. I have, quite simply, reached the limit of my niceness for the next year or so. All of my care and attention is being absorbed by one small being, and everyone else can suck it up. I just do not have the brain capacity.

But the thing that’s shocked me the most is that Herbert feels the same. It’s like we’re both a bit broken. All our adoration and desire is flying in one direction, and by the time we’ve managed bedtime, eaten dinner, cleared up, done the washing and finished our chores, the only thing that our feeble desire can cope with is a box-set in bed.

Every landmark that defined our adult lives has been swept away: the independence, the energy, the spare cash, the bodies that behaved in predictable ways. And here we are, adrift. We just haven’t learned yet how to make the transition from mummy and daddy to lovers.

If I were a different sort of blogger, I’d now be offering you ten top tips to get the sizzle back into your relationship. But do you know what? It’s fine. It’s entirely natural for sex to peak and trough over the course of long relationships. As long as there’s still a dialogue  – and some affection – it’s hardly fatal. Sometimes, life just doesn’t feel all that arousing.

That said, I don’t want to wait until the two-year mark to get my groove back. It just takes a while to get the hang of this, that’s all.

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9 Responses to Sex After Baby – A Status Report

  1. Muddling Along 23/01/2013 at 16:55 #

    I discovered your blog way back in the day when we were in the post baby nuclear bomb phase – it doesn’t always take two years but there is a degree of just being touched out by the end of the day and as you say everyone except the small bomb just having to suck it up

    Life and relationships evolve – as long as nobody is using sex as part of a marital power play then peaks and troughs are just part of the weft and weave of a longer term relationship

    • Betty Herbert 23/01/2013 at 19:28 #

      I absolutely agree – it’s so tiring to see sex being endlessly repackaged in the media without any regard for real life.

  2. Claire King 24/01/2013 at 12:39 #

    I even stopped patting our dogs for a while after my children were born. I just didn’t have the capacity. But yes, it does get better.
    And then when they are old enough to get out of bed themselves on a Saturday morning, you will turn back into teenagers, hiding under the bedsheets and giggling at the first sign of any noise outside your bedroom door…

    • Betty Herbert 24/01/2013 at 13:12 #

      I so relate to the petting the dog thing – I’m feeling decidedly frosty towards the cat. They just feel like another demand on my patience at the moment.

  3. Carina Benjamin 24/01/2013 at 13:08 #

    I think it was probably six months for me before I felt we were getting anywhere near “there” again. I think I felt worse about it than my husband to be honest. Once we talked about it and let go of that sort of self-imposed pressure things relaxed a bit and we found other ways to get close. There’s more to sex and love than penetration, after all!

    • Betty Herbert 24/01/2013 at 13:13 #

      Well said! It’s absolutely fine to take it easy, I reckon.

  4. Anne Wareham 24/01/2013 at 23:50 #

    Well said. Sex is – in spite of all we hear – not the measure of happy coupledom. Relax and enjoy each other without pressures you don’t need – you have enough of them.

  5. tu 31/01/2013 at 20:25 #

    Once you have a baby, lie-ins are the new sex. And once you’ve had a lie-in, you feel so much more like it. Obviously, your partner will then have been up since 4am and will only be capable of a faceplant, but it does all get easier.

    • Betty Herbert 01/02/2013 at 09:25 #

      I love it, that’s SO true! We’re having a night away tonight, so hopefully a lie-in AND sex are on the cards.

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