I recently had dinner with a friend of mine who is pregnant with her second child, and wasn’t surprised when the topic of sex during pregnancy found its way into our conversation. In fact, this is one of the most common questions I have received through my Ask Patty column on PureRomance.com. That’s why I felt it was necessary to share my top tips to keep in mind when dealing with intimacy during pregnancy and post-childbirth.
1. Women go through a wide range of hormonal changes during pregnancy and for some lucky couples this can actually cause their sex lives to become even hotter. However, this isn’t always the case with everyone; many find that the fluctuation in hormones actually create a negative effect on their intimate life. That’s why it’s so important that even before these changes begin to take place that you and your partner commit to communicating openly throughout the pregnancy. The key is to be honest with one another from the very start. Couples often expect one another to be clairvoyant; yet, the truth is we’re not mind-readers, and during times of transition like these it’s even more vital that you open up about everything you are feeling.
2. It may help to pick out books for your partner to read that will help him to share in the experiences you may be going through. Going through such physical, emotional and mental changes, pregnant women need added support during this time. By focusing on keeping an intimate connection, you are ensuring that you will have the kind of support you need and deserve.
3. There are many different issues that can arise during pregnancy and every woman’s circumstances are different; with that being said, you should always check with your health care provider to find out what is safe for you. Once you receive the “green light”, it’s important to trust your doctor and not let fears or myths stop you from having a healthy and enjoyable sex life throughout your pregnancy!
4. Try Kegeling (naturally tightening and relaxing the muscles which form part of the pelvic wall regularly); the exercise has many wonderful benefits that help you to be more orgasmic, enhance sexual enjoyment for both partners, prevent prolapses of pelvic organs, condition muscles making birth easier, and help prevent tears and episiotomies and help prevent leaking urine when you sneeze or cough.
5. If you’re not feeling well, let your partner know and be open to exploring other forms of intimacy to maintain that connection. There are so many ways to be intimate with your partner outside of just making love. Read a book together, cuddle during a romantic movie or let him massage and rub your feet – especially when they tend to be more swollen from the pregnancy.
6. Morning sickness or nausea is often a phase of your first trimester which will eventually pass. If you are not feeling well, it’s important that your partner is understanding and patient with you. However, if you are feeling well, it’s imperative to make time for intimacy even if often times you may just not “be in the mood”. With the exception of a health reason specified by your health care provider, you should make an effort to be intimate, and be careful not to rely on the pregnancy as an excuse to put off spending romantic time with your partner. Sometimes women find that they may not be in the mood initially, but if they make time and go with the flow they find they are really enjoying themselves in the process.
7. A pregnancy is a major life change not just for women, but also for men. There are many reasons that men can become distant or lack desire to have sex – some include fear that they will hurt the baby in some way, or even deeper psychological issues such (as with a first child) as the fear they won’t be a good father or won’t be able to handle their new responsibilities. Needless to say, these types of stresses don’t bode well for the kind of relaxed environment that is conducive to an enjoyable intimate experience. Communicate to find out what may be troubling him; a little reassurance can go a long way!
8. It’s so important to communicate and set boundaries from the very beginning of what you expect. From the second you realize you are pregnant, you should be talking with one another and emphasizing how important it is to you to maintain intimacy throughout the 1st, 2nd and 3rd trimesters – all the way until the baby is born and beyond!
9. Make sure that you are not just talking about the baby all of the time. You and your partner have a relationship that is separate from the relationship you will have relative to your child and you need to make sure that you nurture that as well!
In my book, Pure Romance Between the Sheets, I touch a lot on sex after childbirth, as well as dedicated an entire chapter to the importance of communication in any relationship. This is a great resource to have to learn more about how to enhance your best sexual self, both as an individual and as part of a couple.