Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby!: Intimacy During Pregnancy & Postpartum

Remember when you were having fun trying to get pregnant? I’m feeling sexy, let’s have sex!  I’m ovulating, let’s have sex! I’m bored, let’s have sex! Any reason was a good reason to do the deed. Then you actually got pregnant, and let’s just say you weren’t as eager any more. Then! You had the baby and thought you’d be eager to get back to having some fun, but that didn’t happen right away. Well that’s because pregnancies and children change your romantic relationship. The question is do you let it change for the better or for the worst?

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One of the most common statements in couples therapy is, “We never have sex.” Surprising? Maybe not, because of course lack of sex is often a result of lack of intimacy, respect, understanding, and many other things already missing from a relationship. These same things can get lost in the changes that occur during and after a pregnancy. Let’s talk about some of the ways sex changes when a baby is on the way.

1st Trimester

You may still look like yourself for the most part, but you probably don’t feel like yourself. Between morning sickness, severe fatigue, and just the stress of understanding that you are actually growing a human inside of you…sex is probably the last thing on your mind (I mean that’s what got you in this situation in the first place! #TurnOff). Your partner may still be very much into you though…no pun intended.

As you go through these unrecognizable changes your partner may still be ready to jump in the hay and may not understand why someone who was all about the sexy time a month or two ago is suddenly completely over the idea. This is the best time to talk to your partner about what’s going on for you and try to get them on the same page. As things start growing and feeling more and more uncomfortable, it will get harder to have a rational conversation about your partner’s needs as well as what you need.

Try practicing other forms of intimacy. Whether that be cuddling, kissing, hugging, eye contact or (let’s stay scientifically correct) fellatio or cunnilingus. If you don’t know what those last two are, Google it…actually on second thought. Don’t Google it. I’m talking about a good old fashioned BJ and well in the words of Cardi B let him “swim with his face”. Anyway…moving on.

2nd Trimester

The first 3 months can be rough, but with the 2nd trimester some changes may occur. The path of pregnancy is a continuously evolving one and you may notice changes in mood, changes in your body, and changes in your sex drive. Some women even experience an increase in their libido during this time! The tricky part about the 2nd trimester is getting back into the swing of things. If you got your partner on the same page during the 1st trimester it is easier to divulge to them that your desire is back and your ready to see what that body pillow was really meant to do.

Now, with a growing bump your partner may have some fears about what is and isn’t okay when it comes to sex at this stage. Always check in with your doctor to make sure they don’t have any concerns about you doing the deed (and trust that asking about sex is definitely not going to make your doctor uncomfortable…they stare at lady parts all day, they don’t have an uncomfortable bone in their bodies). Take the time to educate yourselves on what sex could look like at this stage, and possibly take a birthing class to help build trust and intimacy in this time of delicate emotions. Going to therapy during this time (individual or couples) can also be beneficial for exploring how you are really feeling about this pending new life.

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3rd Trimester

Things are getting a little lot more crowded and uncomfortable. You may have to get creative with your positioning in this stage, but the deed can be done (again, double check with your physician). Use this as an excuse to practice your listening skills and communicate what works and what doesn’t work for either of you. This is technically the last time you will be able to get it done for a few months.

Also, carve out time in your schedule to discuss how you are both feeling about this new life growing and how things might change after their arrival. Set expectations for how you would like to stay connected once sex is something that inevitably becomes less frequent (at least in the short term).

Postpartum

The baby is out! Woohoo! Time for sex, right? Wrong. You have another 2 months (at least) before any doctor will give you the okay for sex. Let’s be honest those first 2 months you’re probably not going to have the time or energy for sex anyway (a newborn can really suck the life out of you). Use these two months to practice less physical intimacy (refer to 1st Trimester) and start discussing your birth control options with your ob/gyn as these will need to be started ASAP if you don’t want to be doing this all over again in 9 months. Note: you CAN get pregnant while breastfeeding, so do not use that as a form of birth control.

This is a time of transition for any couple, so recognizing that things will not be exactly the same, and putting in place some ways to create small, intimate moments that now work with your new life will be critical. If you are struggling in this time to communicate with one another your needs, utilize your village and have someone babysit for an hour or two (take up friends/family on their offers for help). You both deserve a break. Take some time to go on a date or go to therapy together. Giving yourself some grace allows you to be a better partner and parent.

5 Reasons to Take Maternity Leave Early

So you found out you’re pregnant? Congrats! Now it’s time to start planning how the next 9 months are going to look. Trust me, you don’t want to just “go with the flow” for this one.

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As the next few months go by you will realize just how hard it is to work and be pregnant. Now times that by 10, and you’ll find out how hard it is to work and have a newborn. If your lucky enough to be in a work place that is supportive of your new role as Mommy and provides an adequate amount of maternity leave, DO NOT take it for granted!

Maternity leave is the break you need and the break you deserve! You may feel the need to work until the baby is literally falling out of you, BUT I highly recommend against it. Taking as little as a week or as much as a month before your actual due date can be so beneficial to you, your relationship, and your future child. Here’s 5 reasons why…

1. Making Your Home Baby Friendly

You may have bought everything you needed or had family and friends contribute to what inevitably turned into a giant pile in the nursery. That pile isn’t very useful if it’s still a pile at 3AM when your changing a crying newborn’s diaper. Taking leave early gives you time to organize and sort through that pile. Some things that may need to be done with this pile before the little one arrives:

  • Organizing different diaper sizes. You’ll only be using Newborn or Size Ones for the first month or two. The rest can be stored away for later use.
  • Cutting tags off of clothes and washing them. This takes longer than you would expect. If you read the tag on these tiny clothes carefully they always recommend washing first before putting them on precious baby’s skin.
  • Disinfecting and deep cleaning your home. Sterilizing new bottles and pacifiers can save a lot of time when the little one starts going through bottle after bottle in the first few days. In addition to this a deep cleaning and disinfecting of your home in general can be helpful.
  • Making sure the pile has everything you need. While sorting make sure to check off all the items you have and what you may still need to run out and get before the big day.

2. Making Time for Your Girls

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Although your friends may be super supportive of you starting your family, many times single or childless friends can feel that they are getting pushed out of your life by this new little human. Use your time off to make brunch dates and enjoy some time with your girls. You may not be able to drink, but you can still enjoy a good laugh! In addition to spending some quality time together, you can also have them help you with things that need to get done around the house or run errands with you. Kill two birds with one stone!

3. Spending Time with Your Spouse

This is the last time it will be just you two. Soon a third life will make its way into the picture and change things forever (whether its changed in big ways or small ways is up to you). Partners are often the most affected by a new baby, as much as we’d like to think it is ourselves who are affected most, and it can be a difficult transition for them.

We spend 9 months growing a life inside of us and starting our relationship with our little one, but partners don’t get this same connection. Often times partners don’t start feeling the real transition until they get to hold their newborn for the first time. That means before little one arrives they are still focused on the two of you as a unit. This is the perfect time to capitalize on that!

Spend some time together as a couple and do something that you did when you first started dating or something new that you’ve wanted to try (Couples massage anyone??)! Really tune in to your partner and discuss your hopes and fears of the future quickly approaching. Establish some ways now you can stay connected when the baby arrives and promise to check in with one another as this new journey begins.

4. Refocusing on Yourself

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You have probably spent a lot of time focusing on the baby, family, friends, your home, and other things in the past few months. Utilize your maternity leave to take some time for yourself to relax and refocus on your needs. This is the one time you’ll have a vacation strictly for yourself.

Whether you are at home most of the day or decide to head out to your favorite park or beach, do something by yourself. Take some deep breaths, write a journal entry, or just think about ways you can be aware of your very being. Imagine where you were a year ago and how far you’ve come. The feelings that overwhelmed you at the beginning of your pregnancy and how you’ve managed to make it this far. Think of the values you want to hold close as you move forward and what activities or hobbies you want to keep up with as a mom.

You can take one day to do this or spend a little time each day centering yourself and preparing yourself for the next stage in your life. Whichever route you take, make sure you are staying true to who you are and who you want to be.

5. Mental Preparation for the Biggest Gift of Your Life

You can plan and prep for everything that seems important when it comes to bringing home a new baby, but nothing can truly mentally prepare you for the shift that will take place when that creature growing inside of you (or inside someone else) becomes a human that needs your care, love, and support for the rest of your life. Taking that extra time to seek out a therapist and explore some of the fears, anxieties, joys, and other million emotions that you’ve been feeling is one of the best ways to use your time off. Getting appointments scheduled when you have plenty of time on your hands and building a relationship with a therapist that cares will make it a lot easier to continue seeking this type of support after the baby arrives.

Building rapport is the first step with any good therapist and knowing that you have someone to turn to who gives an unbiased ear will be a tremendous stress relief in those weeks and months after delivery. Maternity leave isn’t all about getting a break from work. At it’s core, it’s really all about taking care of yourself in a very delicate time of your life. Whether pregnant, using a surrogate, or adopting maternity leave is a time to become in tune with yourself and the life you are bringing into the world.

 

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Your Baby just did Something Amazing, and You Didn’t Even Notice.

Being a new mom is hard and with the world constantly telling you what we should and shouldn’t [do, watch for, feed, say, practice, look for]  with your new bundle of joy it only makes it harder. I spent so much time the first few months of my darling daughter’s life Googling every little thing she did and completely freaking out about my ability to mother her (and 95% of the things I was over-exaggerating about were completely normal “baby stuff”) .

I constantly had my phone in my hand. Every minute I spent on my phone was a minute I lost connection with my little girl. I really noticed the impact this was having on her when I noticed her interaction with her dad.
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My partner would give undivided attention to her whenever he was home, and she just seemed…happier. They would engage fully and she had no complaints. Now this may seem obvious, “Duh. Of course a baby is going to want attention. And of course you shouldn’t be on your phone.” But it isn’t as obvious as you may think.

Becoming a mother means changing your entire lifestyle. No longer are you able to stay constantly connected to friends and family the way you once were. I use to spend days calling, texting, Snapchatting, Instagramming, (etc., etc.) with my friends and loved ones. I no longer had time to just meet up for drinks or chat on the phone for 2 hours. My friends started feeling neglected and I started feeling alone.

Being at home alone for weeks with a newborn was not as entertaining as I thought it would be. Once the baby came home I had to be on “Mommy Duty” 24/7. I would be thirsting for attention when my partner came home from work. And was ecstatic that I had someone to talk to and interact with on an adult level. (My poor fiancee.) When he wasn’t there, being on my phone was the only way to interact.

So, what’s the solution?  You shouldn’t ignore your child, but you also shouldn’t ignore your own needs. Well, being intentional is the key. I became very intentional about how I wanted to socialize.

In the mornings before the little one awoke, I would make calls to my best friend on the East Coast. It was a little early for me (definitely not a morning person), but it worked for her schedule and allowed for me to get my day started with the thing I was craving most, social interaction. During nap times I put the phone on speaker and talked to my mom while I washed up dishes or folded laundry. Once little one was old enough for visitors, I invited over a friend or two to spend some time at the house with me in the evening (sometimes we even snuck in a glass of wine or two if the little one had nodded off to sleep).

These “strategies” if you will, allowed me to put down the phone and interact with my darling when she was awake and still satisfy my craving for adult conversation. I no longer felt lonely and I no longer had to follow my poor fiancee around the house like a puppy dog in need of some lovin’.

Being intentional about your needs allows you to take care of yourself and those around you without getting burned out. Some good old fashioned self-care is always the answer.

 

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