Today we are going to follow the sage advice from the early ‘90s poet Salt-N-Pepa:
Let’s talk about sex, baby!
Specifically, let’s talk about how your and your baby’s sleep can affect certain…um…adult activities…
As a new parent, you’ve probably rolled out of bed at least once having created a new standard for Tired during the night. There was the Tired you felt after an all-nighter in college. There was the Tired you felt after 18 hours of labor. And then there was the Tired you felt after getting up the 13th time during the night for the fifth night in a row. It seems like each time you make a new “I’ve never been this tired before” record, you find a way to break it. It’s truly humbling to be your own record-breaker for a category you wish never existed.
Having a baby in the house – whether you acquired the baby through biological birth, surrogacy, foster care, or adoption – will likely impact your sex life with your partner. For some people, there’s an improvement after the baby arrives, but for the majority of partners, things take a bit of a dive for a little while. But fear not! With time and a little effort, your sex life can return to where it was or even get better.
A lot of things play into a less-than-ideal sex life when there’s a baby in the house. For people with biological children, there are hormones, postpartum recovery, and body changes that can impact bedroom activities. Regardless of how your baby came to live with you, children introduce so much busyness– feeding schedules, sleeping schedules, doctor appointments, sickness, teething, play dates – it’s a lot! But for many people, the biggest reason they don’t get it on as much as they’d like is because they’re TIRED from a lack of quality sleep.
Tired with a capital T
According to the Sleep Foundation, adults need seven to nine hours of sleep per night, but let’s face it: with a child under 2, it’s not very likely that you’ll get that consistently. The problem is that when you are chronically sleep deprived, you develop all kinds of other physical symptoms. Some of those include:
- Bodily fatigue
- Slow thinking
- emory loss
- Short attention span
- Impaired decision-making skills
- Low libido
Lots of factors can cause a low libido after a baby arrives home. Following birth, women are biologically programmed to shift their focus for physical affection from partner to baby. There are also hormones, postpartum recovery, and physical overstimulation (often called being “touched out”) to blame for low libido.
Then there’s the Capital-T-Tired. It’s just so hard to get jiggy with it when your body feels like it’s full of lead weights. More often than not, Netflix-and-chill turns into Netflix-and-immediately-pass-out-on-the-couch.
But what can you do about it?
Some things just take time. Hormones will eventually even out. Bodies will heal. Allowing both parties time for self-care will help with being “touched-out,” anxious, and irritable.
And though it’s easier said than done, improving your baby’s sleep will improve your own, and when you improve your sleep, other…ahem, things…are likely to improve, also.
When your baby won’t sleep through the night, it’s hard to have the energy you need to function through the day. Training your kid to sleep alone is an essential step toward a household of good sleep. There are a lot of different baby sleep training methods out there that you can try.
The Cry It Out Method usually produces the fastest results, but it can be the most difficult for parents to follow. The Ferber Method takes a gentler approach to sleep training, but it also can take a little more time before your baby learns to sleep alone. There are several other sleep training methods that meet a variety of parenting styles and child temperament needs. Of course, one of our pediatric sleep coaches can also make a customized sleep approach to help everyone get better sleep.
The important thing to remember is that whatever you try, stick with it for at least three days. That gives your child enough time to adjust to the changes that accompany sleep training. For some families, sleep training may be minimal – a new bedtime routine is all it takes – but for other families, sleep training changes may have significant hurdles such as:
- Changing from bedsharing to a bed of their own
- Going from a crib to a toddler bed
- Needing to be fed/rocked/patted to sleep
- Requiring complete silence or a loud noise machine
These changes can mean some growing pains at first, but training your child to sleep on their own can yield some fantastic results. For your child, it means independence, better sleep, and other cognitive and behavioral benefits. For you and your partner, it means higher quality sleep throughout the night, leaving you refreshed and ready for, well, you know… *wink*