Rekindle the spark after having a baby

Soon after the birth of a child, the father can often get sidelined. This could drive a wedge in the relationship. Here's how to avoid the problem.

The baby has arrived and your household is on a feed-clean-rock-to-sleep mode. Sure it's a wonderful time, but with all the attention on the baby, sometimes this creates an emotional distance between the parents. The sex drive ebbs as they put themselves in mommy-daddy roles and sometimes, this ridge gets wider and wider.

It's important to remain partners and lovers, says clinical psychologist Salma Prabhu of Ace guidance centre, not only to strengthen your marriage, but also to work as a parenting team. "Both, mother and father, feel a tremendous surge of love and nurturing for the baby and in the process may ignore each other or even hurt each other," she says. "Say if the father is reprimanding the boy and the mother does not agree, she may scold the father or disrespect him. If this continues, the relationship will be strained further."

One needs to take care that the partner remains the first priority always.

The father position
Poor pop is in a tough situation: the mother has had nine months to bond with the baby. Post delivery hormones and breastfeeding cement the bond further. Daddy is at a biological disadvantage. They are overwhelmed with the rising bills and emotional (and physical) absence of the partner. "Men are better at bonding if they are visiting for a few hours when the baby is clean and smiling, and everything is taken care of," says Prabhu. "I know of a father who was very upset with the baby because breastfeeding hurt the mother."

Men who have experienced this before through a younger sibling or a married sister are able to handle it much better. They are also at a loss on how to handle the wife and are not able to deal with the strong and sudden surge of emotions they feel. There is a mixed feeling of joy and anxiety.

Enrol his support
New fathers are very keen to be a part of the process, right from the first scan. Pops, who share responsibilities and have had fun doing it, have a better and lasting bond with their children. Start with small responsibilities - wrapping the baby after a bath, preparing feeds and rocking the baby to sleep. This builds their bond and sense of belonging, and prevents them from feeling sidelined.

Bring sexy back
The ideal prescribed period for celibacy is six weeks after delivery and after a proper postnatal checkup. Hormonal imbalance raises the mother's sex drive but the vagina may be very tender due to the delivery. In the case of a C section, more precaution is advised.

But intercourse is not the only way to build back intimacy, and it needs an effort from both sides. Despite your schedule, keep time aside to talk to your husband about the baby, your feelings, even the uncharitable or overwhelming ones.

Whisper sweet-nothings in each other's ears, talk about how you are waiting to make love and indulge in a lot of physical affection. Appreciate how tough this time is on your husband and appreciate how his efforts are helping you gain strength back.

Send naughty text messages or notes to let him know that he is not being ignored or taken for granted. "Mutual caressing is recommended, however, one needs to avoid cunnilingus as it may lead to an infection or other problems," adds Prabhu.

The first step in regaining sexuality is by ensuring and learning the sleep hours of the child. One could need a little more help as some women experience dryness of vagina, so foreplay and lubrication take centre-stage. Consult your doctor about safe positions and protection to avoid an unplanned pregnancy.

Creating the mood becomes essential. The lady of the house will have to take charge of this encounter to send the signal that she is ready. The sensitive father is trying so hard to be supportive and caring towards his wife, that he may fear "imposing" himself upon his wife. Send messages to each other throughout the day, indulge in physical affection, and if needed, take a weekend away together. Pack new lingerie, fragrance and sexy music.

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