Motherhood brings great joy but also big challenges when it comes to juggling all the components of our lives. Usually, our sex lives suffers as a result of pregnancy and after delivery. However, we can still enjoy our sexuality in spite of the changes in our bodies and our households due to pregnancy and motherhood.
SEX DURING PREGNANCY
When I was pregnant, my libido spiked. I used to wake up my husband in the middle of the night to have sex. He was so happy! —Melinda M., Fort Lauderdale, FL
I had complications during my pregnancy, so I could not have sex for all nine months and beyond. Luckily, my husband was very supportive and never pressured me into having sex. —Samantha C., Dallas, TX
Some women may feel a spike in their sexual drive during pregnancy. However, this is not always the case. Hormonal changes may cause your libido levels to fluctuate during pregnancy and this is completely normal. A study conducted by gynecologists Kay Mordecai Robson and colleagues revealed that 77% of women report having intercourse less often at three months of pregnancy and 57% report intercourse less often 12 months after delivery when compared to the frequency of intercourse before they got pregnant. Fear of harming the fetus was found to be one of the variables that contributed to the decline in sexual activity during pregnancy.
Here are some recommendations to deal with changes in libido during pregnancy:
- Talk to Your OB-GYN: Discuss with your physician if you are concerned about your sex drive during pregnancy.
- Communicate With Your Partner: Talk to your partner about how you feel. Discuss each other’s needs. Find ways to be creative in keeping your sex life going.
- Try New Positions: Try new sexual positions to find the ones with which you are more comfortable during sex.
- Do Not Feel Guilty: Only engage in sex when it’s safe and only do what makes you feel comfortable.
- Avoid Sex: If your healthcare provider advises you to not have sex, do not even try. Be careful if you have risks of miscarriage, have placenta previa, or preeclampsia.
POSTPARTUM BLUE & DEPRESSION
I had postpartum depression after delivery. I felt very guilty about not wanting to have sex with my husband, but I was simply not interested in sex at all. —Diana S., Oklahoma City, OK
Postpartum blues and depression affect many women after delivery. Postpartum blues are considered transitory and a result of hormonal imbalances. Postpartum depression is a more serious and prolonged depression after delivery. According to Dr. Elizabeth Corwin and registered nurse Lauren Sauder, postpartum depression affects 9-16% of women with potentially devastating outcomes for mothers, children, and families. Moreover, sexual function has been shown to remain low during postpartum depression and two years after treatment.
Some tips for dealing with postpartum depression and sex include:
- Talk to Your Healthcare Provider: Postpartum depression is a serious condition. Do not feel ashamed or guilty about feeling depressed. Although having a baby has been portrayed as being blissful and happy, not everybody feels that way after delivery.
- Cognitive Therapy: Psychological care can help get your emotions in check.
- Do Not Feel Pressured: Do not add sex to your stressors. Rather, focus on getting well so you are able to enjoy a healthy sex life when you feel comfortable with it.
MOTHERHOOD & SEX
When I had my second baby, my vagina dried up. I had no sex drive and no lubrication. My doctor prescribed estrogen and that made things much better! —Carmen C., Orlando, FL
It is no secret that motherhood changes the family dynamic, and that includes how we interact with our partners. Often times, fatigue, the family demands, and the fact that now the kids are watching (and even sleeping with their parents in many cases) make sex a chore in the long to-do list of busy mothers.
Here are some ways to get your mojo back after delivery:
- Get Your Hormones Checked: Your libido is greatly influenced by your hormonal levels. It is very important that you get your gynecological exams done to rule out or fix hormonal imbalances.
- Make Time For Sex: Although it may seem like an impossible chore, having sex dates may work wonders. Besides adding spice to the relationship, the more you practice the better you will become at scheduling time for sex.
- Work on Intimacy: Your definition of intimacy and sex can change after delivery. Stay in tune with your partner by maintaining open channels of communication. Also, work on the other components of intimacy that are important to keep you both connected. Massages, taking walks with the baby, and doing things that you like together will strengthen the bond between you and put you in a better mood for sex.
- Put Yourself First: Although this sounds like an unrealistic thing to accomplish, putting yourself first means that your well-being will significantly impact those around you. Eat right, exercise (with baby if you have to), take care of your physical, mental, and spiritual health and you will have the stamina and libido to enjoy a healthy sex life.
- Natural Aphrodisiacs: You can try natural aphrodisiacs to improve your libido. However, refrain from using herbal remedies during pregnancy and breastfeeding unless approved by your doctor.
Pregnancy and motherhood change our bodies, our minds, and our lives. However, sex does not have to disappear from your world when you are an expectant mother or when baby arrives. You may have to become creative, but investing in your sex life will pay dividends.
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