Life’s everyday demands as a mum never let up, so it’s little wonder we let ‘feeling sexy’ slide. “With a house and baby to care for, your time is stretched to the limit and something has to give,” says Dr Sandra Wheatley, psychologist and author of Coping with Postnatal Depression.
“Unfortunately, most of us decide that the ‘something’ has to be ourselves. We relegate our needs to the bottom of the pile, so spending time on ourselves seems a luxury too far. The knock-on effect is that we lose our oomph, sex is the last thing on our minds and we end up feeling we’ve betrayed ourselves and the woman we used to be.”
But don’t despair – you can rediscover the confident, sassy lassy hiding inside by following our six-step plan.
Get a better boudoir
Bedclothes stained with breast milk, a bin full of whiffy nappies and plastic toys covering the floor of your bedroom won’t do anything to put you in the mood.
“Your bedroom should make you exhale, ‘aaah, this is lovely’ as soon as you walk in,” says interior designer Becky Clarke. “So, first, de-clutter; then decorate. If you’re short of time, adorn just one wall – where your bedstead rests – with a really pretty wallpaper. Then get new bed linen. It doesn’t have to be satin – crisp Egyptian cotton sheets topped off with a lovely duvet and a sumptuous new throw will feel fantastic. And you may even discover that your bed isn’t just for sleeping in after all!”
Mmm… you smell good!
When’s the last time you smothered yourself in seductive perfume, body lotion and shampoo? The right aroma can lift your mood and be an aphrodisiac, too.
“Pick a smell you love,” says Natalie Szapowalo, co-founder of natural perfume business Tsi-La. “Intuition will tell you what works with your smell, but try it out to see if it’s right – everyone’s skin is different and the varying notes in a fragrance respond differently with your unique body chemistry.”
Research has shown that aromas have a positive impact on behaviour and emotions. One study found that, while out walking, a woman instructed to drop a pack of tissues or a glove was helped more often by pedestrians when she wore perfume.
Harness the power of scent and smell by investing in a carefully-chosen fragrance. Bergamot (as contained in Marc Jacobs and CK One, for example) is said to have a refreshing, uplifting quality, as well as being calming; sweet orange clears the head and is warming and strengthening (Vera Wang’s Bouquet contains tangerine and orange blossom) and patchouli is known for its aphrodisiac and sensual qualities (DKNY Delicious Nights contains base notes of patchouli).
In general, though, Natalie recommends subtle or natural fragrances. As well as spritzing or rolling on fragrances, use bath and moisturising products to smell gorgeous all over. “If they’re very subtle, different scents can work together,” she says.
Love that lingerie
First, get yourself fitted – over two-thirds of us are wearing the wrong size bra. “Breasts change shape, so what you wore a year ago won’t necessarily be boosting your assets,” says Cleo Andrews, head of retail at Leia Lingerie. “After breastfeeding, for example, breasts can become shallow at the top of the cup, so a full-cup bra won’t be filled properly. Try a balcony or half-cup instead, to push them up to perfection.”
Wearing matching bras and knickers – if only in the same colour – will make you feel special, too. But, says Cleo, “You don’t have to go for something backless and bumless to feel feminine. Choose what’s right for you – be it white cotton or red lace. If you love it, and it’s supportive and comfy, you’ll feel sexy and your man will sit up and take notice!”
Give your wardrobe a workout
If you’re not feeling body-positive after a baby, it’s easy to slouch about in old, baggy clothes. But this can drag you and your confidence down.
Want to back get respect for you and your wardrobe? “First, throw out your old, worn, misshapen clothes,” says London-based personal stylist Suzanne Berni. “Then set aside a day, or half day, to shop. Make a wish-list of what you’d love to afford – say a 100 per cent cashmere coat, then hit the high street to find something that has less cashmere in it. It’ll still feel luxurious, but won’t break the bank.”
Suzanne also recommends investing in quality accessories – jewellery, scarves, bags and shoes to brighten up you and your outfit. This personal investment can also set up a virtuous circle. “When other people think you look attractive, you feel attractive too, so the positive reaction you get from friends will help you continue to feel a sense of pride in your appearance,” explains Suzanne.
A girls’ night out
There’s nothing like a night out with your pals to perk you up. And the good news is that by dressing up, your man will be wowed by the fact his sexy woman is back, explains psychosexual therapist Rachel Foux from Household Companion. “Keeping up interests outside of the home makes you more attractive to your partner. You’ll have more to talk about and you’ll feel like a fascinating woman – not a worn-out mum.”
Eat well, feel great
Just how much priority are your dietary needs taking these days? Make sure they’re on the menu – a good diet can put a twinkle back in your eye. “Eating healthily, incorporating lots of fruit and vegetables, makes you look better, which improves self confidence,” says nutritional therapist Melanie Flower. “Spending time cooking a healthy meal for yourself is a fantastic way of nurturing your needs, and it needn’t take ages.” Melanie suggests oven-cooking fish or chicken with lemon juice, olive oil, black pepper and garlic, and serving with a salad of spinach leaves, walnuts, feta cheese and raisins – plus anything else you fancy!
As for food to boost your sex drive, Melanie recommends foods rich in zinc, important for reproductive health.”Try oysters, Brazil nuts and pumpkin seeds. And finish off with dark organic chocolate – it contains a stimulant called phenylethylamine, which gives you a sense of wellbeing and excitement similar to the natural high of being in love.”