Many couples grow closer during their pregnancy and are able to express tenderness, affection and love easily, especially if the baby is planned and everything goes smoothly. Some women feel wonderfully sensual when pregnant. They love feeling rounded, full and womanly, and enjoy not having to worry about contraception. Their partners find them sexy, too and many couples enjoy a more spontaneous sex life especially with a first baby when there aren’t other small persons liable to wake in the middle of the night and want attention!
Sex, especially active sex, is an undervalued form of physical exercise. It is physically energizing and especially good exercise for the pelvic-floor muscles. At the end of the day, making love can be relaxing and sleep-promoting.
Plus, it is perfectly safe. You cannot harm the baby while making love: the uterus thoughtfully moves up and out of the way when you are sexually aroused. Also, the hormones in semen that help the cervix to soften and dilate in early labour will only have that effect when you are in labour.
where did the sex go?
It isn’t uncommon for one or bother partners to go off sex in pregnancy for a variety of reasons. Identifying the cause of your loss of interest will help you deal with it. Use the following to help you work out what is bothering you.
Sheer exhaustion must be the number one reason why women go off sex in pregnancy. It can be arduous to carry a baby to term. The physical (especially hormonal) and emotional changes are numerous and stressful. Pregnant women with one or more small children to care for and/or a job, will find sex the last thing on their minds as they collapse into bed at night. Having enough rest and sleep can be a complicated juggling act when, for example, your other child is sick and waking at night, or you have a work deadline to meet.
Physical complaints such as morning sickness, heartburn, hip pain, constipation, varicose veins of the genitals/vulva (this is not uncommon in late pregnancy), can all make intercourse uncomfortable, or even downright painful.
Some women find it difficult getting used to a constantly expanding body, they feel fat and unattractive, or even ugly and have difficulty believing their partners could find them desirable.
Taboos against sex during pregnancy are sometimes passed on from mothers or grandmothers to their children or grandchildren.
Many women struggle to come to terms with the belief that mothers or mothers-to-be can be sexy…because as children associating one’s own mother with sex may have been difficult or even impossible!
Your partner may associate affection with sex and you feel you can’t be affectionate because it always leads to his wanting sex when this isn’t always what you want. This can cause some women to withdraw their affection and their love, which leads to a rift in the relationship.
Major stresses are demanding: a move, the death of someone close to you, worries about your other children, sick relatives, job or money difficulties. These situations can create emotional distress that can cause women to become withdrawn as they deal with the bare necessities of getting through each day.
Unexpressed feelings are the cause of many women and men withdrawing emotionally, and then sexually. There may be emotional difficulties in the relationship which become aggravated with the additional stress of pregnancy.
Pain during intercourse is extremely off-putting. It is not uncommon in pregnancy and can be caused by the cervix or even the vagina and uterus itself becoming more sensitive than usual. This is a time to try different positions…there are several that can be enjoyable without discomfort (see diagrams). Don’t feel guilty if you don’t want penetrative sex, or scared if you experience discomfort in any position. There are other ways to give each other pleasure, and this is a great time to experiment with non-penetrative sex: masturbation won’t make you blind and neither will oral sex.
what to do?
Don’t forget this is the one job you have taken on for which you may have had no prior training, no experience, little support and no pay! It isn’t unreasonable to feel concerned and anxious about the task ahead, those feelings can affect you in your pregnancy and are best dealt with as and when they surface, rather than waiting for a pile up to occur.
Talk with your partner about why you think you have gone off sex. It’s essential that you communicate honestly and openly with each other about your feelings, especially around your sexual feelings. Say what it is you need now: patience, love, understanding, wooing…whatever. Express any resentments and ask for your partner’s support and understanding. Some couples find that a good row clears the air, deals with any build up of tension and paves the way to a return of those old sexy feelings. Find ways to be close to your partner without it necessarily leading to sex. It is an important part of growing up and of parenthood that we learn to separate affection from sex and sex from penetration.
Ask your midwife or physician for reassurance and help about any physical discomforts or complaints you may be experiencing if you think that your loss of interest in sex is because you aren’t as well as you could be.
Your local homeopathic practitioner will be able to prescribe on any physical or emotional complaints. Homeopathic medicines stimulate your body gently to heal itself, and are especially suitable for pregnant women because they do not have side effects and are therefore, safe for your unborn child.
Seek the advice of a counselor or a psychotherapist if you are having difficulty adjusting to pregnancy, to your changing body and especially if the whole idea of parenthood scares you. Or if the stresses in your life are overwhelming, and especially if you have become depressed as a result.
Seek the advice of a marriage guidance counselor who is trained to work with emotional and sexual difficulties if you find that you can’t talk to your partner about the sexual difficulties you are experiencing, or if anger and resentment are causing your relationship to suffer.
partners can go off Sex, too
Some partners find their pregnant woman incredibly sexy and others well, quite the opposite. Many men equate pregnancy with motherhood with their own mothers, and the taboo against finding their own mother sexy is projected on to their partner. When this happens, women can feel rejected on a deep level and this can affect the relationship if it isn’t discussed openly.
Anxieties about the responsibilities ahead, money and losing the closeness of their loved one also play a part. Jealousy, envy and a complex array of confusing feelings can make men feel like they wish they were single and free again. These are a normal part and parcel of the package deal that is parenthood. Part of letting go of one phase of our lives in order to move on to the next. Some kick and scream more than others! Don’t sweep them under the carpet, they need talking through with someone who understands what is happening.
where did the romance go? steps to intimacy that work
1. Familiarize yourself with your changing body. Look at yourself in the mirror after your bath or shower. Give yourself a massage with body oil, cream or lotion and pay special attention to your abdomen and breasts. Any cream that has vitamin E in it will help your body to expand more easily without making stretch marks.
2. Talk about the changes in your body with your partner, and how you feel about them.
3. Ask your partner to massage you and talk about which parts are more or less sensitive than usual. Be specific about how you would like to be touched.
4. Encourage your partner to share their feelings, too.
5. Make time for each other. See it as a capital investment…your relationship really is worth it. It is all too easy to leave behind the things you both did together, once parenthood looms. If you don’t make an effort to do this now, it will become increasingly difficult once the baby comes along.
6. There is nothing sexier than romance! Make an effort to do those things that gave each other pleasure before you became pregnant: notes, flowers, gifts. Be creative, plan little surprises. A candlelit dinner for two in the bath!
7. Explore the pleasures of sensuality … a shared bath (if it is big enough!), breakfast in bed, plenty of hugs and kisses and sweet nothings whispered in each others ears…
8. Don’t forget about foreplay. You may find it more important now that you are pregnant. Many couples adopt a slower, gentler pace of lovemaking than perhaps they were used to before their pregnancy.
9. Tell each other every day how much you like, love and appreciate the other. Don’ts Sex/love-making (with penetration) should be avoided if: – you experience pain no matter what position you try – you are bleeding, even if it is only spotting – you have a history of miscarriage and want to play safe, especially in your early pregnancy – your waters have broken in late pregnancy/early labour, as there is a risk of infection
The following remedies will help you to recover your libido if they are indicated, i.e. if their whole picture matches yours. If you are experiencing, say, bad cramps, depression and a loss of libido then Causticum will help both you and your sex drive. If you are depressed and irritable, want to be alone, feel nauseous and have lost your appetite as well as your sex drive then Sepia may be the remedy for you. There are many other homeopathic medicines for women who have become stressed and withdrawn in pregnancy. If the following pictures do not fit with what you are going through then you will need to check in with your local homeopathic practitioner.
Causticum This is for chilly people who hate the cold and drafts but feel better in the mild, wet weather. They lose their appetite when pregnant and go off sweets and sweet things. They become more sensitive than usual to nearly everything. And sentimental, crying easily over the slightest thing even the Andrex ad can set them off. Emotional stresses that involve worrying about others close to them affect them a lot. They lose interest in sex and typically suffer from exhaustion and restless legs (in the evening), indigestion, joint pains (which are better for the warmth of bed), cramps (at night in the feet, toes or soles), indigestion (with burps that taste of the food they ate) and stress incontinence (from coughing, sneezing, laughing or walking).
Natrum muriaticum These people dislike the heat, especially the direct heat of the sun and stuffy rooms. They become dry and thirsty in pregnancy and suffer typically from cold sores (on the lips or around the mouth), back pain, exhaustion (in the evening), constipation with piles (which bleed), heartburn and stress incontinence. This remedy is for people who are naturally reserved, who find the attention they attract when pregnant difficult to handle and who may withdraw emotionally as a result. They become more sensitive when pregnant and vulnerable to emotional upsets. They hold on to these hurts and become sad and bitter. They go off sex and become more and more introverted.
Sepia This is for chilly women who become quickly exhausted and run down in their pregnancy. They are vulnerable to the physical stress of pregnancy, losing their muscle tone and suffering from a variety of physical symptoms including back pain (an aching, dragging down pain in the lower back), constipation (with straining and large, hard stools), nausea (with vomiting and gnawing pains which are temporarily relieved while eating). Unusually, they are much better for some vigorous exercise such as running or dancing. This energizes them (although they won’t feel like it and may have to force themselves to do it.) Eating helps them temporarily. They look pale and drawn with dark circles under their eyes. They can become depressed and want to be alone, reacting with spiteful comments if anyone tries to get too close. They can become indifferent to their loved ones, snapping at them for the slightest little thing.
Staphysagria This remedy is for women who become resentful having been hurt and not expressing the angry feelings. They become exhausted, anaemic and irritable. They brood and fume inside, while appearing OK. This can turn into an active resentment. They withdraw emotionally and then physically and sexually. Or, they can erupt in a temper tantrum when they will end up in trembling and crying. Sex is painful sometimes because of a build up of tension (through unexpressed resentments/hurts).
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