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Before and After Childbirth
Pregnancy and childbirth involve physical, emotional, and relational transitions that profoundly affect our sexual pleasures. A wise woman nurtures this dimension of her wellbeing during these changes. It is recommended that you talk warmly and openly about your sexual feelings with your partner and other friends. Here are five suggestions:
Be sure to tell your healthcare providers that you intend to continue and improve your sexual relationship before and after childbirth. If they seem "sex negative," insist on a second opinion. If any professional advises you against sexual intercourse, always ask "Why?" and "For how long?"
Remember that maintaining and enjoying physical closeness during and after pregnancy is never just a question of whether or how often you and your partner are going to have penile-vaginal intercourse. There are, after all, many other ways to experience bodily pleasures and to share those pleasures with your partner. There are sometimes medical reasons to refrain from genital intercourse for a while, but there are never any good reasons to stop enjoying physical closeness and the sensuality of erotic sharing. Methods of sexual interaction will inevitably shift as pregnancy proceeds, and as a couple's relationship accommodates the arrival of a child. These shifts do not have to be negative – view them, instead, as opportunities to explore new dimensions of your sensuality, and to enhance the erotic connection with your partner.
Although there are some exceptions, you can usually enjoy penile-vaginal intercourse during pregnancy with a few concerns and no worries. Of course, you can expect that you and your partner will need to modify your favorite sexual positions, and try some different ways of giving pleasure through genital contact – talk with your partner and have fun with some new experiences. The only "rule" is that sexual intercourse should be comfortable, pleasurable, and fun for both partners – and if it isn't, seek advice from your healthcare practitioner or a professional sexologist. Here are a couple of common worries that you can happily forget. Intercourse will not damage the fetus, nor will it induce premature labor. The baby will not "know" that you're having sex, nor will the baby have any feelings or opinions about your sexuality!
Remember it is typical for sexual desire to fluctuate before and after childbirth for both the woman and her partner. These fluctuations are often not "in sync." Some mothers-to-be and young mothers want more physical closeness, tenderness and erotic caressing, some less. Interest in genital intercourse may at times increase, decrease, or seemingly disappear. Frequently, the physical changes involved in having a baby affect the woman's feelings about her body, its potential for pleasure, and how desirable it is to her partner. Sometimes male partners become reluctant to be too sexual with the mother of their child, whereas others are especially "turned on" by pregnancy or by their partner's motherhood. Some try to deny the inevitability of changes in the woman's sexual feelings. And many men become sexually conflicted about their partner, struggling with temptations to find a sexual connection outside their primary partnership. It is helpful to recognize how common these feelings are, and how useful it is for couples to address them honestly and lovingly.
There will be changes in your sexuality after the birth of your baby. Expect some physical changes: temporary changes in the shape and sensitivity of your vagina (these can be helped by having your healthcare practitioner teach you how to do "Kegel" exercises); and sometimes permanent changes in the shape and "look" of your external genitals. Also expect significant changes in the scheduling of your sexual pleasures. You will need to communicate often about these issues with your partner and friends. Since you should never expose a child to adult sexual activities, give high priority to making plans for private, pleasurable time for yourself and with your partner. After all, your sexuality should continue to be a source of joy to you throughout these challenging transitions in your personal life.
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