When my husband Jack and I first started trying for a baby, the sex was great. We’d spent our married life thus far avoiding pregnancy, so it felt strange, naughty to be doing the opposite – and there was something deeply sexy about deciding to make a baby together. With no worries about contraception and a renewed sense of purpose, lovemaking was spontaneous, passionate and steamy. Those were the days…
I bought a pregnancy test the very first month we started trying, convinced that we’d conceived – but no little blue line appeared. That didn’t put us off at first…but 5 months in; it was hard not to feel disappointed. Our erotic encounters were turning quite frankly, into a bit of a chore: I’d get an email from my online fertility calculator reminding me that it was my fertile time, alongside the email reminding me it was time for my weekly shop!
Jack didn’t seem too bothered at first, but as I became increasingly stressed out, he also began to wonder if there was anything wrong. Our sympathetic GP suggested we ‘take a month off’, so we did. We talked, we flirted and we forgot about charting fertility, and had great sex again. And a few weeks – and orgasms later – later, I was pregnant!
Not tonight darling
In my newly pregnant state, however, sex was definitely off my agenda – what with all-day nausea and overwhelming fatigue I felt less than alluring. And while I desperately wanted to feel close to Jack, when we did try making love I usually ended up in tears and Jack ended up feeling guilty.
Denise Knowles, a sex therapist who has worked with pregnant couples at Relate, says this is not uncommon: “I often see pregnant couples who are uncertain about what they can and can’t do sexually. And it’s quite normal to feel a bit anxious about becoming a parent, which is bound to affect your sex life.”
A friend of mine confided that she had to tell her husband to not even think about putting ‘that thing’ (her words) anywhere near her, while another told her partner she’s prefer a bowl of chocolate ice-cream. I knew how they felt: in the morning all I wanted was a ginger biscuit and a cup of tea, and I was asleep within minutes of hitting the sack. I still needed cuddles – which made us feel better – but Jack couldn’t touch my boobs because they were tender, and couldn’t hold me for long because I couldn’t get comfy, and it was best if he didn’t speak because poor man, he invariably managed to say something that set me off crying again.
About 13 weeks in however, suddenly the hormones were going my way. I felt great, and Jack loved my new shape. This may sound corny, but lovemaking was now a revelation. The orgasms were unlike anything I have ever felt before – earth-moving, shout-it-from-the-rooftops climaxes. I felt so alive. Afterwards, our baby would kick and move around, and Jack would chat to the bump about what we were going to call him or her.
But I realise we were lucky to have reconnected like this. Some couples find it hard to be physically intimate throughout their pregnancy. My friend Sandy’s husband Chris, for example, seemed reluctant to come near her. She explains, “He was scared he’d damage me or the baby, and confessed being freaked out by my growing bump.” Denise says lots of men have this reaction, because they’re worried they’ll harm the baby in some way – not true, but an understandable concern. Luckily for us though, Jack and I felt closer than ever. These were intimate, special times.
Closer and closer
Come the third trimester, things got a little trickier because of my rather generous curves. We tried different positions with varying degrees of success, often ending up sprawled on the bed giggling. I really wasn’t up to re-enacting sections of the Karma Sutra.
It was at this point in her pregnancy that one of my friends, Kate, announced she was going to sleep in the spare room. She explains: “I couldn’t lie still and Mark was driving me crazy, so I thought we’d be better off adjourning our sex life until after the baby.” I admired her practicality; I just didn’t want to give up on sleeping together. I think it was important to both of us that we felt physically close. Having Jack massage my aching back was bliss, and sometimes we’d just hold hands and talk – we were both a little nervous about the forthcoming birth.
So our gorgeous son Frankie finally arrived, and turned our world upside down. The first couple of weeks were a blur of nappy changes, feeding and hoards of visitors. My body felt sore, I’d had stitches, and even having a bath was a massive effort. We were emotional and exhausted – like any new parents, we were desperate for sleep, not sex. Maybe things really would never be the same again.
Then one night, about 7 weeks after bring Frankie home, it happened: we went out for the evening. My mum insisted we left her baby-sit. Jack was keen, I was unsure, but in spite of the frequent phone calls home to check everything was alright, we managed to switch off for a couple of hours and remember we were partner as well as parents. It was like a first date – we were rediscovering each other.
Life after labour
One year on, and life has changed. We’re often tired, and when it comes to getting up close and personal, we sometime can’t manage more than a quick snog – but that’s ok. We’re parents now as well as lovers, and our bond is deeper than ever. And when it comes to sex, we may not be so wild and spontaneous, but really all you need is love. And a spare half hour once you’ve put your baby to bed!