QUESTION: I’ve shared a bed with my son, and without my spouse, since the birth 14 months ago. I am still breastfeeding, but I know I use that as an excuse not to make love to my spouse and our sole attempt at sex post-birth was disastrous. I don’t know why I feel this way. My delivery wasn’t traumatic and I used to fancy my other half like crazy. My husband says he can’t carry on this way, but I can’t envisage a way back. Please help.
ANSWER: Many new mothers experience a powerful instinct that their baby needs them far more than their husband does, so it’s alarmingly easy to neglect a spouse following childbirth.
Most men tolerate this sudden displacement - after all, it’s in the interest of a joint project. But as you’ve discovered, if you push him away for too long, it will lead to strife. Family is about increasing the circle of love, not transferring it from one member to another.
I don’t want to finger-wag. Almost every mother knows the instinctive, overwhelming passion you feel for a new baby and how easy it is to escape to an exclusive cocoon of love. It’s akin to falling head over heels in love, to feel such rapt absorption in a baby’s face.
However, as with all infatuations, you must not lose sight of other priorities. Top of those should be your husband. You may not currently feel desire for him, but your rational brain should tell you that your emotions are held hostage by motherhood and there will come a time of release.
In my observation, the success of parent-child bed sharing depends on the family’s lifestyle and mutual tolerance. If one parent works long hours and craves rest, it may make sense for the other to shoulder the burden alone.
Where it becomes dangerous, however, is when one person uses parenting as an excuse to ward off their partner. There’s no need for breastfeeding, or a baby in the bed, to stop your sex life in its tracks.
There are plenty of places to make love outside the marital, infant-filled bed. I have parent friends who had a weekly date on their sofa around 10pm: just the two of them.
However, you’re not looking for compromises, you want to wriggle out of sex altogether. There’s a quiet note of despair in your admission that you don’t believe you can change the situation.
These feelings of helplessness and inertia suggest some form of depression; isn’t it possible you might be experiencing a post-natal low? I would visit your GP to discuss your predicament and see whether counselling or a short course of antidepressants could help.
Above all, you must talk to your husband. Once you’ve been honest about your emotions, you will find it easier to be sexually open.
I was concerned that your first experience of post-birth sex was traumatic. Did it happen too early? Was it painful? Most women’s bodies are still in flux following childbirth, but dormant sexual instinct can be revitalised if you trust your husband to guide you back.
You’re hijacking your son, when you need to share him with your husband and let him shine as a father. Marital love deepens when you admire your spouse as a parent.
Don’t be pressured into sex, but for goodness sake don’t renege on passion before you’ve given it a full-throttle second try. - Daily Mail