Dont let pregnancy bump out your sex life

May 29, 2008

Dont let pregnancy bump out your sex life

24/05/2008

A big tummy doesn’t have to stand in your way in the bedroom. There are ways of getting around that belly, writes GAYLE SATO.

IS YOUR pregnant body your only reminder that you and your partner once had an active sex life? Sure, sex during and after pregnancy is definitely a new frontier but it doesnt have to be alien territory.

Here is a guide to keeping alive the sexual flame in your relationship and the spark of romance that lit up your libido in the first place.

Get ready for some changes

You may be sidelined by nausea, fatigue and your ever-expanding figure. Your man might be inhibited by the babys presence and the transformation of your thighs from sculpted to upholstered.

Your bedrooms climate may shift from torrid to chilly but not all changes are necessarily negative.

I went on a photo shoot once with this supermodel when I was eight months pregnant, says Susan (32), a Joburg-based stylist. The photographer paid a lot of attention to me. I realised it was because I was so busty and voluptuous and I felt really beautiful.

Stick to the facts

Pregnancy begets misinformation about sex. Dont fall prey to the myths. Here are a few facts:

# Most pregnant women do want sex. I was as horny as a 17-year-old boy when I was pregnant, reports Susan. Sex was all I wanted.

Increased hormone production and blood flow to the genitals can create serious heat.

# Unless a woman has medical problems during pregnancy, any sexual activity appears to be safe. Its the rare pregnancy in which sex is unsafe. If you experience vaginal bleeding, placenta praevia, preterm labour (or have a history of it) or ruptured membranes, you may need to abstain.

Check with your doctor first; it will put you and your partners minds at ease.

# After giving birth, you cant rely on breastfeeding or the absence of periods for contraception.

Renew your courtship

Prospective and new parents often ignore whats happening between them outside the bedroom. Hold hands. Go for walks together. Get back into courtship behaviours, advises sex therapist Wendy Maltz.

Make the effort

Speaking of courtship, its easy to let things go when you are pregnant or a brand-new mom.

But unless you make the effort to light a spark, spontaneous combustion isnt likely.

Waddling around the house in a spit-up-stained pair of old pyjamas is not sex-inspiring behaviour. Do your part to make it happen.

Seize the moment

If you wait until the perfect opportunity (your pregnant belly has temporarily deflated for romantic purposes! The baby is with grandma and youre at a B&B in Tuscany!), your child may be at university before you have sex again. Yes, you should carve out time for serious lovemaking.

Go slow after the baby is born

Plan on a sex hiatus in the weeks after your babys birth. First, physical recuperation is a must. Second, the demands of early parenthood can be totally depleting.

The oxytocin released during breastfeeding is the same hormone that is released when a woman has an orgasm, says Wendy Maltz. To your body, breastfeeding can be like having several orgasms a day. (Not that nursing feels like an orgasm, but it can be equally tiring.)

Be realistic about your sex drive: lingering soreness, constant fatigue and feeling touched out may all contribute to flagging desire. This is a good time for other kinds of connecting and communicating.

You can resume having intercourse once you are ready and you have your doctors okay at about six weeks postpartum. Just take it easy the first few times.

Nursing can lower hormone levels and many breastfeeding women find a water-based lubricant helpful. Most women (men, too) may find a glass of wine salubrious. Just dont overdo it if you are breastfeeding.

Welcome the new era

A postpartum slump may be natures way of making sure your children are appropriately spaced. But dont let celibacy become a lifelong habit if it persists for months on end, talk to your doctor.

Then again, dont fret excessively about how your sex life has changed. Its a clich, but soon your waistline will shrink, your episiotomy stitches wont throb and your child wont always respond by crying hysterically, Pavlov-style, every time you and your partner get near each other.

# Excerpted from FitPregnancy magazine

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