The key role of sex during pregnancy -- and why you don't want to miss it.
Your libido may resemble a seesaw these days -- one day you're tired, queasy, and all don't-even-think-about-touching-me, and the next day you're a raging sex goddess-slash-porn star, waiting to pounce on your man when he walks in the door.
When it comes to sex during pregnancy, both feelings are completely normal. But what's important is to maintain intimacy in your relationship, whether you're feeling the lacy lingerie or the sloppy sweats.
"I've seen so many relationships fall away because people stopped having any form of intimacy -- even touching -- during pregnancy," says sex educator and Hot Mamas author Lou Paget. "Pregnancy sex is truly about intimacy, about connecting in a way you don't get to connect with anyone else."
Staying connected is extra important during pregnancy, says obstetrician Lauren Streicher, M.D., author of Love Sex Again: A Gynecologist Finally Fixes the Issues That are Sabotaging Your Sex Life, because it gives you critical moral support when you need it most. "Women may feel vulnerable because this is all new -- it can be scary," she says. "Maintaining intimacy is a way for couples to go through this together."
Here's how to stay together -- physically and emotionally -- through your nine-month journey.
Explore your feelings. With your role transitioning from hot chick to mother, you may find yourself feeling conflicted about having sex during pregnancy. "Mothers are not necessarily supposed to have orgasms or sexy thoughts," Dr. Streicher says. "But being a pregnant woman isn't your new defining persona -- you're still you." Having sex at this time affirms that, yes, you're still a sexual person. Give yourself permission to enjoy it.
Keep lines of communication open. Your guy may be feeling a little hesitant, too. He may be avoiding sex or just being oddly gentle, even if he doesn't realize it. "Your partner may feel guilty having sexual feelings toward the woman who's going to be the mother of his child," Dr. Streicher says. He may also be scared that he'll hurt you or the baby. In either case, address any weird feelings head-on so you can work through them together.
Roll with it. Your body undergoes amazing changes that can make things a little awkward in the bedroom. For one thing, your breasts may be sensitive and tender -- and it's possible that stimulating them could cause colostrum (your first milk) to leak out. "Some couples may find that sexy, and for other couples, it's distressing," Dr. Streicher says. "But there's nothing wrong with it." Also be prepared for a little incontinence. "Some couples put down a waterproof sheet because some urine's going to come out, and that's just the way it is," Dr. Streicher says.
Get over yourself. Feeling more beached whale than beach babe? Even if you feel gross and undesirable or have zero interest in sex during pregnancy -- or if your guy can't get on board -- it's important to find ways to be close. "You still need to be hugged, to be touched," Dr. Streicher says. This could be a good time to take a bath together, give each other back rubs, or snuggle on the couch while you catch up on your shows.
Act normal. There's so much changing in your world right now, so it can be grounding to check back in with what's familiar. "You may want to revisit the pizza place where you had your first meal together," Paget says. "Doing things you did before, unrelated to the pregnancy, helps you hold on to your relationship."
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