Sex After Kids: What to Expect & How to Keep the Spark Alive

How often do married couples with kids have sex?
on July 09, 2024
Read time: 10 mins
by Laura Caruso LMHC

While having an active sex life as parents is more difficult, the myth about sex disappearing doesn’t have to be true if you don’t want it to be. 

After all, studies revealed that 94% of parents were satisfied with their sex lives, and 57% started having even better sex after kids. 

“Give yourself time and space to adjust to parenthood, even if you’ve had children in the past,” says Laura Caruso, licensed therapist and relationship expert. 

“Don’t compare yourself to others, or—worse—to your own past experiences. Each new child brings new challenges, and the adjustment will feel easier with an abundance of self-compassion and empathy.”

So, the answer isn’t just about finding a good babysitter, it’s about rejuvenating your emotional and physical connection in a way fitting for your new chapter as parents. 

How much sex is normal after kids?

Every couple can get insecure about how often they’re having sex, worrying whether they’re having enough compared to everyone else. 

This question becomes even more contentious after parenthood, as sleep deprivation, hormonal changes, and lack of time naturally influence your sex drive and sexual relationship. 

“There is no universal number when it comes to sex,” says Caruso. 

“The frequency of sex varies widely for couples, and — rather than fixate on a target amount — it’s important that both partners feel satisfied with their level of intimacy.”

How often do couples with kids have sex? 

According to recent studies, 30% of parents are having sex 1 to 2 times a week, and 44.5% of parents are having sex 1 to 2 times a month. However, it’s a spectrum with answers varying significantly by child age and other factors. 

Therefore, why it’s interesting to look at statistics, they shouldn’t be used as a barometer for your own sex life as postpartum sex can naturally vary for every couple. 

“Transitioning into parenthood is a significant life change that impacts energy levels, time commitments, and emotional capacity,” says Caruso. 

After giving birth, there are so many physical and hormonal changes to consider that can affect your sexual relationship. 

For example, while oxytocin was previously derived from physical touch with your partner, it can now be obtained through breastfeeding — contributing to emotional and physical distance from your partner. 

After women give birth, their bodies are hardwired to take care of their offspring, with estrogen and testosterone levels plummeting after birth. This naturally reduces sex drive, as sex is usually the last thing on your mind as you adapt to parenthood. Parents can also report feeling touched out, especially when their kids are only a couple of months old. 

“Despite these adjustments, many couples discover new depths of connection,” says Caruso. 

“Finding strategies to maintain intimacy and keep the spark alive is essential for fostering a healthy and fulfilling relationship amidst the joys and demands of raising children.”

How can parents find time for sex after having children?

In a healthy relationship, it’s possible to find time for intimacy after kids, and not only good sex but great sex! 

The key to this transition revolves around healthy communication with your partner, so you can both understand your sexual needs and desires in this new chapter. 

“Communication between partners is key to understanding each other's needs and finding a balance that works for both,” says Caruso. 

“It's also common for sexual frequency to fluctuate over time, so maintaining open and honest communication about desires and expectations can help couples navigate this aspect of their relationship post-childbirth.”

It’s important not to fixate on how much sex you’re having or not having, it’s about navigating sex after kids as a team. 

“By making intentional efforts to prioritize intimacy and communicate openly, parents can find ways to maintain a satisfying and fulfilling sex life amidst the demands of raising children,” says Caruso. 

What are some tips for rekindling intimacy in your relationship after having children?

Rekindling intimacy after having kids is a different journey for every couple, especially if this is the first time they’ve experienced parenthood or if they’re dealing with postpartum complications. 

“Rekindling intimacy after children requires both emotional and physical efforts,” says Caruso. 

“Prioritizing quality time to focus solely on your relationship as a couple and not on your roles as parents and expressing affection through hugs, kisses, and physical touch throughout the day is a great start. Emotional and physical closeness helps maintain intimacy.”

While date nights might seem like a far-fetched idea, with your child now your number one priority, it doesn’t make quality time impossible. Even if it’s only for a few minutes a day, it’s about sparking meaningful conversations that don’t revolve around being parents.

Keeping that space for just the two of you is integral to maintaining a healthy intimate relationship, where your partner can feel valued and cherished. With this intentional effort, intimacy will naturally follow. 

“To deepen your connection, plan romantic gestures or surprises for each other. Small acts of thoughtfulness can reignite passion and appreciation,” says Caruso. 

“Remember: it takes two to tango. Prioritize self-care to maintain your well-being and recharge your energy. When you feel good, you're more likely to experience desire in your relationship.”

No one says it’s going to be easy, but sex after kids shouldn’t be considered impossible — not when you’re both dedicated to rekindling your intimate relationship is a sustainable way. 

According to Laura Caruso, here are some practical tips for parents to rekindle intimacy: 

  1. Schedule intimate time: Just as you schedule other important activities, allocate time for intimacy. This could be during nap times, after bedtime, or whenever you can both find a quiet moment.

  2. Prioritize communication: Discuss your desires and needs openly with your partner. Understanding each other's expectations and preferences can help you both feel more comfortable and connected.

  3. Delegate responsibilities: Share parenting duties and household chores to lighten the load and free up time for intimacy. Utilize support from family or friends if possible.

  4. Embrace spontaneity: While scheduling can be helpful, don't dismiss spontaneous moments. Be open to seizing opportunities for intimacy when they arise.

  5. Create a relaxing environment: Lower stress levels by creating a calming atmosphere in your bedroom or another preferred space. This can help both partners relax and enjoy the moment.

  6. Explore non-sexual intimacy: Physical affection, cuddling, and non-sexual touching can maintain emotional closeness even when sexual activity is less frequent.

  7. Stay flexible and patient: Understand that your sex life may not be the same as before children. Be patient with each other and willing to adapt as your family's needs evolve.

How to enjoy sex again after having a baby?

There are so many emotional, physical, and hormonal changes after giving birth that you simply can’t ignore. As you adapt to having sex again after childbirth, it will likely feel strange or different at first, and that’s completely normal. 

You’re only human! 

Birth itself can make sex painful for many women. Pregnancy and labor can stretch the pelvic floor muscles, making it difficult to recover sexuality after childbirth. Women who have had a c-section also struggle with sex after kids, especially if they’re struggling with postpartum depression or other mental issues. 

“Physical, mental, and emotional changes after birth might create discomfort or fear around sex and intimacy,” says Caruso. 

“It’s important to remember that levels of intimacy vary, and penetration and climax can be idealized elements of sex; in reality, they are not accessible to many very soon postpartum.”

These conversations require a lot of vulnerability and honesty from both partners, as while it does not feel ‘sexy’ to talk about these issues — it’s worth it in the long run! Remember there isn’t a race to have sex right away, take your time with it, focusing on the kind of intimacy that feels good for you both. 

“If you feel uncertain about sex after having a baby, start small, and work your way up towards levels of intimacy that feel higher-intensity,” says Caruso. 

“Address physical changes sensitively, considering necessary healing and new-parent fatigue, and prioritize extended foreplay to enhance arousal and pleasure.“

While we’re talking about sex after kids, it isn’t all about sex! Adjusting to life as a parent, and accepting your new role can be tough. Women can especially feel strange about their new bodies, with an array of hormones making them question everything!

This is why it’s so important to foster emotional intimacy during this time, with sensitivity and respect at the core of every interaction. 

“Nurture emotional closeness through quality time together and affectionate gestures beyond sexual encounters,” says Caruso. 

“By approaching intimacy with understanding and patience, couples can rekindle their sexual connection and rediscover the joy of intimacy after welcoming a new baby into their lives.”

What are some tips for keeping the spark alive in your sex life after having children?

If you’re on a journey to reigniting your sex life after having children, we’re cheering you on from the sidelines!

There are so many ways to bring back that sexy side of your relationship, as that spark of intimacy doesn’t have to fade just because you’re parents. 

“By integrating these practices into your routine, you can nurture chemistry through playful flirtation to maintain a fulfilling and intimate connection with your partner amidst the joys and challenges of parenting,” says Caruso. 

So, if you’re working towards having sex again after kids, we’ve got a bit of advice tucked up our sleeves to get you started. 

According to Caruso, to keep the spark alive in your sex life after having children, explore new avenues that focus on flirting, chemistry, and maintaining intimacy. 

  1. Rediscover the art of playful flirting by sending flirtatious texts or notes throughout the day, creating anticipation and keeping the playful aspect of your relationship vibrant.

  2. Plan romantic surprises like surprise dates, candlelit dinners at home, or spontaneous weekend getaways to ignite excitement and anticipation. 

  3. Experiment with sensual touch through massages or gentle caresses that emphasize relaxation and connection, fostering physical intimacy and building chemistry. 

  4. Break routine by exploring different settings for intimacy, whether it's a new room at home, a cozy backyard corner, or a rented cabin for a weekend, to enhance novelty and excitement. 

  5. Engage in playful teasing and banter that brings laughter and light-heartedness into your interactions, revitalizing attraction and strengthening your bond. 

  6. Share fantasies and create a safe space to explore them, deepening intimacy through mutual trust and understanding of each other's desires. 

  7. Engaging in physical activities together, such as yoga or dancing, can increase endorphins and strengthen your connection through shared experiences. 

  8. Practice mindfulness during intimate moments to deepen emotional connection and enhance the quality of your interactions. 

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