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Sex after Baby
Gulp! Your doctor has given you the "all clear" to resume sexual activity after birthing your baby. Now you just need the libido, energy and a good night's sleep to go with it and maybe sex will sound remotely interesting again.
To alleviate some worries you may have about sex after pregnancy, here are 10 no-pressure, back-to-sex tips for moms who have given birth. And remember, regardless of what your doctor says, when getting back to sex, the most important timeline to follow is your own.
Don't take low libido personally. If you're worried about lack of sexual desire since you had your baby, don't take it personally. Most new moms deal with low libido after pregnancy. Your infant's needs make being a new mom one of the most intense stages of a woman's life. Time and patience will get you through the challenges of early parenthood, including intimacy challenges.
Practice sensual touch. Just because you got medical clearance to resume intercourse, doesn't mean you have jump right to it. Sensual touch alone and with your partner feels good, eases fears, reduces pain and provides a gentle re-acquaintance with sex. Tell your partner what types of sexual intimacy you are, and are not, ready for. Remind your partner that soft and gentle is the way to go with a new mom.
Exhaustion takes a toll. I can tell you to nap when the baby naps, but you know that already. But when you're dealing with chronic exhaustion, as most new moms are, your libido is the first thing to go. See your libido-lag for what it is, a natural byproduct of exhaustion and the extreme need your precious baby has for you. Rest when you can, and be patient with your expectations for yourself.
Help for sluggish hormones. The hormones estrogen and progesterone fluctuate in a woman's body after childbirth as they return to a post-pregnancy state. Some of the not-so-great side effects can include vaginal dryness and lowered libido. Your hormone levels will even out, usually after a few months, although this can take longer for breastfeeding moms. To combat vaginal dryness, find a great brand of lubrication you love and use it generously during sex. One thing to remember: never use oil-based lubrication with latex condoms, since oil deteriorates latex and puts you at increased risk for pregnancy.
Rewire your brain for pleasure. For a new mom, getting your head around the thought of sex as a pleasurable possibility is often half the battle. Ask for time for yourself. Put someone else on baby duty while you take a bath, relax, have a glass of wine and read a romance novel or erotic book. Or catch up on your favorite, steamy television series. Whatever puts you in the mood, do it to remind your mommy-brain of sensual pleasures.
Don't forget your Kegels. Sex coach and author Dr. Patti Britton suggests doing 60 pelvic floor exercises (Kegels) a day for noticeable positive sexual improvements after three weeks. For moms who have just given birth, Kegels are key. They increase urinary control, vaginal lubrication and enhance pleasure during sex. To find your pelvic floor muscles, stop urine flow while urinating. You have located your Kegels. Now, with an empty bladder (Kegel exercises while urinating actually weaken the pelvic floor), squeeze and repeat. Do 20 Kegels each time you brush your teeth or comb your hair, and your pelvic floor will thank you.
Enjoy your new voluptuousness. Welcome to the new curvier you. Did you know, you can still enjoy sex even with a muffin top, love-handles, cellulite or jiggly bits? In fact, most women have one or more of these. You may be feeling uncomfortable about the changes pregnancy has brought to your mommy body. Just remember, sexual pleasure is for women of every shape and size, so don't discriminate against your body. Don't think you have to lose your baby weight before you can enjoy sex again.
Seize the moment! Try sexual intimacy during different times of the day when your energy levels are higher. Put your weekends to good use and take advantage of being home together during the day. Use your baby's nap-time to sneak in couple-time. Remember, intimacy doesn't have to mean sexual intercourse or even time in your bedroom. Hidden, heated embraces anywhere in the house can amp up the fun.
Practice honest sexual communication. Be honest with yourself and your partner about how you feel sexually. Janice, a mom of two suggests new moms listen carefully to their bodies and honor when they feel ready for intimacy. "If you feel pressured into having sex before you feel ready, it will lead to feeling resentful and that's not good for any relationship." Explain why you don't feel ready for sex or why you need a different approach to intimacy. Your partner is less likely to feel rejected if you share your feelings honestly. Practicing strong sexual communication is a long-term skill that benefits every relationship.
Honor your primary relationship, with yourself. The most important sex advice for any new mom is: Don't get so caught up in caring for your baby that you forget to honor how you feel emotionally, physically, as a woman and as a partner. Remember, there's no right or wrong way to have sex as a new mom, there is only your own way. And really, that's what motherhood is all about, doing the best we can with what we have. So have at it!
Sarah Swofford is a sex educator for parents, a mom of two and the author of the book, From Ouch! To Ahhh...The New Mom's Guide To Sex After Baby. She lives in Oregon.
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