How To Keep Love & Sex Alive After Having A Baby with Whitney Port
I want to start this thing off by painting a picture for you. It was back at the end of my pregnancy. I was VERY pregnant. Like, nine-months-in-and-feeling-like-two-Whitneys pregnant. We had just bought our new home, and my husband Timmy propositioned me to go swimming in our pool. Needless to say, I wasn’t really in a bikini mood, but he quickly clarified that what he had in mind didn’t require a bathing suit. Wink, wink. I remember saying something along the lines of, “Are you sure?! How could that possibly be enjoyable for you when I look like this?” He didn’t even blink. In fact, he was already on his way outside. In that moment, what I lacked in self-confidence, I made up for in hope of feeling weightless in the water. So, in I went.
I’ll spare you the wet and wild details, but that day in the pool was a watershed moment for me. Without me having to ask, Timmy showed me that I was still desirable to him. It renewed my confidence and made me realize that my sexual identity will still exist outside of my baby-making one. Before that, I remember being afraid for Timmy to see me give birth because he would have this unappealing image of me burned in his mind forever. But our “swim” taught me that motherhood isn’t a turnoff. Our partners still crave us, and it’s up to both sides to nurture that heat. A new baby doesn’t have to make the fire go out.
Now, I’m no love professor, but I am an over sharer. So, seeing as it’s Valentine’s Day soon, I thought I’d share some lessons I’ve learned in maintaining my relationship after having a baby. You just met lesson number one: open your eyes and heart to how your partner actually sees you.
Lesson #2: Let Your Partner Help
After giving birth, I was going through so much. I needed to take care of my baby, and also desperately needed someone to take care of me — physically and emotionally. While there are certain things that men just can’t do — such as breastfeeding — they’re totally capable of helping in other ways. As soon as we brought Sonny home, Timmy proactively took charge of my nutrition. Feeding myself became one less thing to worry about, and having him take on that task meant the world to me. Whether he was grocery shopping or just choosing recipes, his help was a constant reminder that he cares about me and my health. There’s no reason for men to feel helpless or for new moms to take everything on themselves. Having a baby means that the roles in your home will likely change, and making new ones is just part of the fun.
Lesson #3: Redefine Date Night
I know, I know. I read the blogs too, and if I see “make time for date nights” one more time, my eyes are going to roll so far back in my head that they may never return. Of course going out just the two of you can help keep the spark alive, but sometimes date night is just too much. And babysitters are expensive. And you know what? I like hanging out at my house, so THERE! Some of our most meaningful dates happen in our kitchen after Sonny goes to sleep. Or binge-watching our favorite show. Or having a real, grown-up conversation about things other than work or the baby. Or just being silly together. Or even working out. (Hot yoga is our current fave.)
Lesson #4: Scheduling Sex Can Be Sexy
There seems to be a negative stigma around scheduling sex after you have kids, but a little planning never hurt anyone. Honestly, resisting the urge to plan because it doesn’t feel spontaneous probably robs couples of more sex than it gives them. Since having Sonny, nap time for him has become couple time for us. Mornings are all about the baby, and we usually just want to chill and unwind at night, so we fit it in when it works. It’s not like we have “SEX” typed into our calendars, but when you’re busy people, you have to find time to do what you want to do. We know when our windows are, and we take them. It’s as simple as that. It’s not strict. It’s not mandatory. It’s something we do for each other because we both want to stay close in that way.
Lesson #5: Disrupt the Norm
Daily life can get robotic, and robotic is not romantic. Mixing things up has helped foster a connection between me and Timmy even though so much of what we do revolves around our child. As a couple, we’ve learned to loosen up about who does what. Neither of us is ALWAYS on bath time or ALWAYS on diaper duty, for instance. We share responsibilities now in the same way that we did when it was just the two of us because it reminds us that we’re still Team You and Me. Also, doing something unexpected — like Timmy randomly buying me a bottle of my favorite probiotic drink on his way home — is a simple way to shake things up and show your partner some love.
Lesson #6: Little Things Are Big Things
Sometimes, a text message can mean more than any grand romantic gesture. Just a little *ding* “Thinking of you” or “I’m so proud of you” can get me through the longest day ever. A phone call. A handwritten note. An “I love you” said straight to your face. Right after giving birth, Timmy would just be there to listen and hold me, and it was such an incredible gift. By learning each other’s love languages, it’s easy to make the most of even the tiniest opportunities.
Lesson #7: Girls Need Orgasms Too
I know this may seem like common sense, but hear me out. Our bodies change after childbirth, and I think it’s vital for new moms to not give up on their sexual selves. Making a point to make sex satisfying for both parties not only leads to more and better sex, but also a stronger connection. I have to give Timmy credit: he’s really done the work to figure out what I like. He makes my needs a priority, and his efforts to make sure I always “leave happy” make me feel both attractive and attracted.
So, this Valentine’s Day (and every day), let your partner know how much you love them in whatever way makes sense for you. Write them a card. Do a chore you don’t normally do. Look for ways to connect as a twosome, even after baby makes three. And if all else fails, just look for a pool to have sex in.
This post originally ran on Refinery 29.