Say goodbye to the nausea and exhaustion that dimmed your desire during the first trimester—you’re heading into a time of renewed sexual energy. Research shows that expecting couples make love an average of 1.2 times per week in the second trimester. Your hormonal changes make arousal easier now, and excitement over the new life inside you lends an irresistible glow. Here’s how to rediscover your drive and reconnect with your partner.
Embrace Your New Body Those extra pounds a growing baby brings can tempt you to hide your figure under a big shirt, but a big attitude fix works even better. Women experience greater sexual satisfaction when they feel positive about pregnancy and find their pregnant bodies attractive, studies say. “You really want to change the framework of how you think about yourself,” says Allana Pratt, radio and television’s Sexy Mom Expert. “You’re going to give birth—a miracle—and that’s powerful and sexy.” Dawn Metcalf of Suffield, CT, found that whether she felt voluptuous or flabby depended on her mood. But she also noticed a change in other people’s attitudes toward her weight gain. “What before was looked down upon as ‘fat’ or ‘heavy’ was now worth praise for how ‘big’ I’d gotten, how ‘healthy’ I looked,” she says. Many men delight in the rounded belly and larger breasts of pregnancy, says Ruth Westheimer, Ph.D., renowned psychosexual therapist and co-author of Dr. Ruth’s Pregnancy Guide for Couples. Metcalf’s husband loved it when she began to show, and her belly became a magnet for his hands. The bottom line: Flaunt what you’ve got. As Pratt says, “Men respond to what we think about ourselves. A woman who knows she’s sexy is sexy to a man.”
Don’t Fight Those Feelings Your blossoming belly speaks the truth: You’re going to be a mom. And that shift in roles can leave you both buoyant and blue. Vikki Kelleher of Los Angeles found herself crying a lot as her pregnancy progressed. “I think I was grieving the life I was about to let go of,” she says. “I’d tell my husband, ‘I’m crying. I don’t know why. I feel crazy.’” Pregnancy hormones certainly intensify your emotions. But Westheimer cautions against blaming every emotional hiccup on your pregnancy—at least directly. Concerns about how motherhood will alter your life, including your love life, are real. The fact is, popular culture often de-sexualizes moms, but don’t buy into that, Pratt says. “You were sexy before the baby and you’ll be sexy after. You’re just expanding your repertoire of what sexy is.” Have a good cry to mourn what’s passing, then go clubbing with your girlfriends, as Kelleher did. A night of karaoke and mocktails can return you to your man renewed and ready for passion.
Talk to Him If your partner seems distant at times, don’t assume he finds you undesirable, Pratt cautions. Pregnancy changes men’s lives, too. Kelleher’s husband, Paul, grew closer to her while she carried their child, but he also worried about finances. “We both work freelance, and I was starting a new business, so that time was a little stressful,” he says. Concerns about money and lost freedom are normal, but if your man’s avoiding the bedroom, you need to open up the dialogue. Find out what’s up with him and let him know what you need, too. Although stating your sexual wants can be tough to do, Metcalf says she found that making concrete suggestions such as “Can we try…” or “I like it when…” got conversation (and sex) off to a great start. Pratt recommends adapting the Dyad technique to make talking about sex less scary. Couples can reconnect emotionally and sexually as they ask and respond to three questions: Tell me something you find attractive about me. Tell me something you think we align on. Tell me something you think I should know about our sex life. Responses receive a “thank you” only. No judgment, no rebuttal. To learn more about this method, go to warriorsage.com.
Think Differently When backaches, constipation, and swollen feet put you out of the mood, don’t turn off your love light or your mate. Instead, try making love “outside the box.” “Sex isn’t just the penis and vagina,” says Barbara Dehn, N.P., a women’s health expert based in the San Francisco Bay Area. “Pretend you’re back in high school. Explore. Find out what turns your partner on besides the usual.” Sometimes, a little patience and willingness are the best aphrodisiac. “Toward the end of my pregnancy, I almost never felt in the mood,” Kelleher says. “And God bless Paul. He would say, ‘Well, let’s just see what happens. You don’t have to do any of the work.’ ” Did that spark a new frame of mind? “Absolutely!” she says. A lacy maternity thong may not hurt, but having a hot love life while you’re expecting begins with embracing your passage into motherhood and asking for what you want. If you can do that, Pratt says, “sex will be better than ever.”
— Amy Henry
Amy Henry relished her role as a “hot mama” throughout both her pregnancies. Her work has appeared in Mothering and Skirt! as well as on iparenting.com.