Monday, February 13, 2012

Inquisition Monday: Bedsharing and Sex

A couple of weeks ago, LeAnnerz asked, "Hi just stumbled upon your blog today and I find it all very inspiring. I recently found out that I'm pregnant and my husband and I are very interested in the idea of cosleeping. We feel it will be a very unifying experience for the three of us. The only concern I have is how we will be intimate with each other in that sort of living situation. If it's not too personal, do you mind sharing advice on how you share a sleeping space with your children and still find time for intimacy? Is it unhealthy to be intimate with my husband while our child is in the room? Would love to have your input. Thanks!!"

And I was pretty sure I had done a post about this, but searching my archives, I couldn't find one. So if I'm repeating myself, forgive me.

First, no matter what your sleeping arrangements are, sex is going to be different. There is a baby to take care of, and childrens' needs don't limit themselves for the hours of 9-5. A baby who was happy and took great naps all day might end up getting sick and feverish later that evening and your plans for sex? Out the window. Sometimes you have to do a lot of pre-arranging of schedules in order to even be together for 20 minutes, let alone find time to have sex. And sometimes things you didn't even plan on affect your libido: breastfeeding, depression, anxiety, new family dynamics and expectations, and just being tired.

Having a child is a whole new ball game. It doesn't mean you'll never have sex again- after all, people have multiple children! But I will say, that it's probably not something you should worry about too far ahead of time. You're pregnant: let go of all expectations as far as sleep and help and wait to find out how your family's new life looks. And maybe it'll be rainbows and happiness from day one! I hope it is.

It's also important to note that cosleeping is anytime that you share a room with your children. A baby in a crib in the master bedroom is cosleeping. Bedsharing is the more specific circumstance where the baby is in the bed with the parents.

Now, how does sex work when you bedshare? Well, for the first two years of Margaret's life, we lived in a studio apartment. So if we weren't having sex in the same bed, we were definitely having sex in the same room as her. Sure, we could have sex in the shower, but that wasn't a good solution for us: we had to be somewhat aware of whether or not she was waking up and that's hard when the water is running. We now use a baby monitor for such times, but when we were in the studio, we didn't have one.

We are not the first ones ever to have sex in the same room or bed as our children. Remember reading Little House on the Prairie? How many rooms did the Ingalls' log cabin have? Lots of families have found themselves in only one room and still manage to have more than one child. It's like they're having sex in the same room as their children or something! (hint: they are).

As far as the bed, we have a really large bed (California King, turned sideways to allow for even more width), we're quiet, and our bed is memory foam, so the movement doesn't carry very far and the kids stay asleep. Also, now that we live in a place that has more than one room, we have a baby monitor and can put the kids to sleep and then use the monitor to keep an ear out for the kids. But even having a baby monitor, we still have sex in our bed with our kids a few feet away. The bed comes with blankets and is warm and cozy.

Do I think our children will be scarred for life? No. They're sleeping! I don't want them watching or anything, but they aren't. Sometimes one of them will wake up and I'll have to switch out of sexy mode and into nursing-back-to-sleep mode and it can really kill the mood, but I've done it. And I'd have to do that whether or not we're in the same bed.

You can have a bassinet or let the baby sleep elsewhere while you use the bed. You can have sex on the kitchen counter. Or you could have sex with the baby 2 feet away in the same bed. It happens. I really want to tell you to take parenting as it comes. Don't let the "How are we ever going to have sex?" question overwhelm you. It's not a problem unless it is. And by that I mean, as soon as someone is uncomfortable, then change what you're doing. There's no hard and fast answer here. Some people are ok with it until the child hits a certain age. And that magic "age" is going to depend on the family; it's going to range from newborn to toddler or higher.

Raising my Boychick had a great post about this last year called, "Why do you care? Some thoughts on sex, judgment, and being a woman with children."

Any tips from my readers? Personal experiences?


  1. Katelyn9:27 AM

    My husband and I co-slept with our son in a sidecar arrangement for the first 13 months. If we wanted to have sex at night, I would place my son in the sidecar and we would have the whole bed for us. We were quiet and had to stop a few times when the baby would wake. My husband works an alternating shift so most sex happened during nap time with a monitor set up to hear/see my son in another room. We moved when my son was 13 months old (he's now 18 months) and the crib we used for a side car was broken in the cross country move. We set up a mattress & low box spring on the floor in my son's room to use for nap time. Sex now happens exclusively at nap time. I now co-sleep with my son in my son's room separate from my husband. My husband keeps a different sleeping schedule from us and this arrangement allows everyone to get the sleep they need without being significantly disturbed.

  2. I think it's so funny when people bring up sex as a reason not to bedshare. As if the only place you can have sex is in the bed... We have four kids, and two bedrooms, having sex in our bed is incredibly unusual. (And cause for celebration!) The creativity as far as timing and location makes things a little but more exciting.

    Although, I do have to say, if you have older kids and want to *ahem* sneak away for a few minutes, don't tell them that you're going to have a discussion with Daddy. The nosy 8 and 10 year olds might decide to turn on the baby monitor to hear what you are "discussing" without them. And then you might die of embarassment.

  3. Apologies to Elisa, who left a comment and my DH accidentally hit "delete" because he was approving comments via his phone and the "approve" and "delete" buttons are close together. He emailed me the comment, though, and so here it is:

    "My husband and I don't bed-share with our baby, but she does sleep in our room. Personally, I absolutely 100% CANNOT get in the mood if my baby is in the room. I just can't. So we usually put her to bed in our room (in a swing or bassinet). While I'm nursing her to sleep my hubby will pull the mattress out to the living room and we will have sex in there. Kind of a hassle but not really, it's actually kinda fun. :)

    PS I have a pretty vivid memory of knowing my parents were having sex when we stayed in a hotel once...I was only 3 or 4 at the oldest. Still traumatizes me a bit. Ha!"

    1. Elisa1:32 PM

      Thanks for including my comment! :)

  4. Anonymous10:45 AM

    Commenting anonymously, because I know my husband wouldn't appreciate this information being out on the internet! :D

    We almost always have sex with a sleeping child in the bed next to us. And, I admit to even nursing while having sex (although my brain doesn't like is really hard to be both "mommy" and "lover" at the same time!!!) I don't think it's a big deal, as long as nobody is showing any discomfort with the arrangement. When our older child was about 18months-2years, we started to move him to his own bed and enforcing more privacy rules (mainly just keeping him out of the room during sex...because he still comes into the bathroom while I'm showering all the time!) If I don't mind, and the kids don't mind, and the husband doesn't mind, we don't make a big deal out of things!

  5. Having 3 kids now, sex is rare at our house, but we try to do it at least once a month. It's mainly a matter of being in the mood (instead of simply tired) and having the kids distracted or asleep (usually distracted). Lately it's a first thing in the morning moment. For us, sex is for him, as I have never found any pleasure in it, so it never takes longer than 10 minutes. We usually put the baby in her jumper, and put PBS on for our older girls then shut the door, it's rare for our door to be shut, so the girls do occasionally stand knocking at the door, but it doesn't seem to bother us.

    When the first was a baby and also the second, we would occasionally have sex with a sleeping baby in the bed, nothing weird about that to me, it's not like the baby knows what's going on even if baby was awake.

    I think it would be far less embarrassing to have your child walk in on you than if your mother-in-law were to.....(a story for a different time...or not) :)

  6. We've been bedsharing since my daughter was born (she's almost 3 now), and what works for us is getting her to sleep in our bed, at night or for naps, and taking our activities to the other bedroom. We tried a couple of times early on to have sex in the same bed with her, but I couldn't turn off mommy mode.

    We've been walked in on once (never saw my husband move so quickly!), and have had foreplay interrupted many times. Never the less, we are expecting our second child now. :)

  7. It's quite simple really. If our daughter's in our bed, we go to the couch. :)

  8. By the way, I love your "this blog is breastfeeding friendly" note!!

  9. We bed-share with our 8 month old. We don't have a crib for her to be in, our bed in the only option. So, for several months, we've had sex in the living room, usually on the floor, since our couch is too small for us. A couple of times, she's been wide awake and refused to sleep, so we have put her in her exersaucer, turned on a Baby Einstein video, and snuck off to our bedroom (with doors open, only a few feet away) to have our sexy time. Fear not, we're not abandoning our baby for long periods of time in front of the tv with no supervision. We're talking 10-15 minutes, which is no different than if we were bathing our older kids or making dinner or any number of other tasks, and again, we're always listening for her.

    Strangely enough, even though finding the time has gotten trickier, we have a more active sex life after our third baby than we have at any other time in our marriage (except when we were trying to conceive, the whole 2 months we've done that).


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