[Photo courtesy of EBM Photography: thanks Emma!]
It’s all baby talk today and quite appropriate for Mother’s Day! In my last post I wrote that pretty much all my friends around me are either pregnant or already have kids. Well those who are currently pregnant have been voicing concerns over their non-existent sex lives. I don’t have kids, my husband doesn’t either and I really don’t know if my words hold merit here but our conversations inspired me to write a post and at least give my perspective from an outsiders view point. I feel this is a common problem that most couples face though and this is preparing me for what could come my way in the future. So forgive me in advance for my stab in the dark thoughts on this topic! 😉
My previous post was about how babies change everything. That kind of follows through into this post today as well because change here is the keyword. When babies come along things change and that includes your sex life, relationship and perspectives.
It’s not just the mum-to-be who physically changes but both mum- and dad-to-be change mentally too. There’s a shift in feeling footloose and fancy free to being weighted down with responsibility. Your sex life changes, your libido either increases or decreases, and the female body changes and that creates issues for both guys and girls. Your labels and roles in the family change i.e. You’re no longer just a wife but also a mother, and not just a husband but a father and everything just got a whole lot more expensive. Then there are all the fears, insecurities and all the thoughts in our heads.
When it comes to thinking about having kids / preparing for kids we tend to fall back onto what we already know about parenting. I.e. Our own parents. We reflect on our own childhood and assess or evaluate how our parents raised us. When it is time for us to become parents ourselves, we make decisions based on our upbringing and experiences which in turn influence our parenting styles. We try to do things differently from our parents but our thoughts always come back to our childhood and we make decisions and our opinions are based on those experiences. We’re subjective. We are connected to strong emotions and memories. We have our own agendas.
If our childhood wasn’t rosy, if we didn’t feel loved or our parents didn’t show us how they loved each other, this can affect our view on relationships. We learn everything from our parents. Their relationship is the first we see. How they are together intimately, how they are with us as kids and how they work as a team to raise us kids. We take all that in. We might not process it at the time but when it is time for us to become parents, a whole load of issues that haven’t been addressed can bubble up to the surface and create problems. Rather than enjoying 9 months together and happily preparing for a new life to be born, some of us are plagued with anxiety and fear.
We are reminded of things we’ve kept repressed. We are faced with flash backs and worries that we’ll turn into our parents or we’ll mess up. We worry we won’t be great parents. We ask ourselves how should I behave? What is my role as a mother / father?
And then we think, “Fuck! This is scary. I’m totally way in over my head!”
This all affects our libido and stress levels.
Women and pregnancy
Women have quite a few worries and fears when it comes to pregnancy. We want it to be a time full of sunshine, rainbows and flowers. Where we feel sexy and blessed and where our husband’s say, “God, I can’t wait to have kids with you! You’re amazing!” Where they kiss our baby bumps and are totally into the pregnancy as we are. On board, excited, loving every minute of it, taking photos and doing cute things together, intimate and all very romantic and coupley. Where they reassure us we are sexy and want to make love to us all the time and console us each time a new stretch mark appears on our bodies. Like we’re cocooned in a little bubble that is just us and we’re rock solid and blissfully happy. Well that’s what I’m hoping for anyway. But I think I’m dreaming.
“Lol! Charlie, wake up and smell the diapers!” my friends say.
During pregnancy our bodies change and we’ll feel bloated, fat and ugly. We may get super horny or we might lose interest in sex altogether. We might feel incredibly connected to our partners and want to have intimate moments with them all the time. Or we may be struggling with morning sickness or other health ailments and push our other halves away, it’s also physically exhausting carrying a baby for 9 months so we’ll be tired much of the time. We’ll lose our dignity over and over and be prodded and poked in private places by strangers in scrubs and white coats and just feel like a lump of meat. We have to transition as well from being that sexy girl dressed in figure hugging dresses and donning sassy high heels to more, well mother-appropriate attire and sensible shoes. We have to give up alcohol, delicious foods and other treats and invest in baby things. Good bye cute handbag, hello baby changing mat. We have to struggle with hair loss, possibly bad skin, a huge arse, leaking breasts and vaginas and God knows what else (yeah apparently pregnancy isn’t sexy like in the movies) and on top of that at social gatherings we have to compete with looking attractive next to skinny, young, beauties who still get to wear the high heeled stilettos and fit into skimpy clothing and the type of girls our guys love to stare at. We have a whole list of fears as well regarding what kind of mother we’ll be etc. but most fears, according to my friends, revolve around image, self confidence and the feeling of being loved, not only during the pregnancy but also after the baby has arrived as well.
And according to them, most of their guys come up short on making them feel loved. Often my friends say the guys get turned off, lose interest in sex altogether, become distant and quiet. They don’t read the baby books and aren’t interested in picking out baby things or decorating nurseries. They say they love their partners but just don’t want to have sex. Kissing and touching stops. So what’s going on they say? He got me into this situation and I have needs too.
(not an exhaustive list)
He won’t find me attractive
He won’t want to have sex with me
He won’t see me as his sexy girl but as a mother figure
Things will change
He won’t touch me or kiss me
I won’t get my figure back after the birth
He won’t do the same things we used to do
I feel fat and ugly
I shouldn’t wear sexy tight figure-hugging dresses and high heels but buy more sensible clothing
Will he still love me the same?
Men and pregnancy
Now, I’m not a man. I don’t have many insights but I’ve asked a couple of guys. If I’m incorrect or missing things please feel free to add points in the comments below! And this isn’t a generalization on all men, it might just resonate with some of them 😉
Pregnancy affects men too.
It’s not all about the woman and I hate it when women blatantly play on this or feel like they are owed the moon because they are pregnant. It takes two to make a baby and just because the guy isn’t physically carrying the baby, doesn’t mean he is getting off scot free. Ladies, he is carrying a far heavier load than you and that is called responsibility. You and the baby are depending / dependent on him. And it can be overwhelming, especially for first time dads and newly married couples. They have to mentally come to terms with a lot of things. Firstly, they are no longer going to be the young care-free bachelors they once were but now need to step up and be a dad. They are moving up in the hierarchy to the top and need to lead and provide for their partner and child. All those wild stories of their youth need to be securely tucked away in a box in the attic. The sensible hat is now on. There is also the pressure of not having the room for epic failure or messing up too much.
Secondly, men might look at their partners differently, not as the sexy sassy women they married / hooked up with but as the mother of their child. This maternal role affects how men see women. It doesn’t mean he loves you any less nor finds you no longer attractive but his view is different. It is more protective and nurturing than passionate and wild. Another level of love and a lot more respectful possibly? Men will look at their own mothers because that’s the only mother they have known until now and they will look back on their upbringing. They will assess how their fathers were and what their mothers did and they will try to figure out how they want to be as a parent. It can raise a lot of issues especially if they had tough times and men have to provide financially and give support, care and show love. And ladies, we know guys can’t multi task 😉 It is a lot to ask for in the beginning. I’m sure though second pregnancies are much easier, smoother and not as difficult. I think it is this initial transition of changing roles and having to be a responsible father figure that stresses guys out.
Then there is the bump. Personally, I used to think it was something from the film Aliens and that’s coming from a woman, bumps would freak me out and I could never touch one. It was just something weird I couldn’t get my head around. Miracle stuff but still, nonetheless freaky. I’m still a little weirded out by them if I’m truly honest. Maybe that will change when I get my own bump one day. Some men might get aroused and love the idea of their child growing inside their woman. Others, and it seems to be many from friends’ experiences, get turned off. My own brother didn’t have sex with his girlfriend during her pregnancy. He just felt too weird about it. Unfortunately it’s something couples have to work through and figure out how they feel about. But it sucks for girls. It sucks because although they’re feeling fat and bloated, they kind of need that physical interaction to be reassured their guy still finds them attractive and sexy and to ease their minds that they’re not going to stray with that young, sexy, petite brown-eyed girl down the road. And some women just get turned on and their libido is on fire! Guys, you’ve been moaning about this long enough so if your girl is horny then take advantage! 😉 And it sucks for guys too because they have needs as well. Romantic gestures are great and date night is still very important. You need to do things together that are not necessarily baby related things, to spend time together and to build up sexual tension. Girls love to be kissed and cuddled so if guys are having a tough time with the idea of sex with their pregnant partners, then they need to keep physical contact, touching, body language and kissing going.
And guys need to talk to their girls. Tell them what’s going on in their heads. Tell them their fears and work together to iron out the creases in their brows. Guys, we’re not mind readers and to us distance means you’re ignoring us, don’t love us, are annoyed at us, don’t find us sexy, are having doubts about the relationship, and pretty much everything negative a woman can think up. We’ll imagine the worst. Trust me. Just open up.
(not an exhaustive list)
I’ll hurt the baby if I have sex with her
It’ll feel like incest having sex during pregnancy
The belly is weird
The belly moves / baby kicks
She needs to be protected and looked after
She is fragile and shouldn’t do so much
She doesn’t feel sexy and doesn’t want me to touch her
Her body is changing and that’s weird
I’ll make her have contractions and bring on an early labour if we have sex
I need to be responsible and provide for them both
They are dependent on me, I cannot fail
Maybe it’s a culture thing?
When I asked a couple of Russian / Ukrainian guys about their thoughts on sex during pregnancy they told me they had had sex with their partners and didn’t think anything of it. They were just as psyched up for sex as they’d been before the pregnancy. But the couple of British guys and one American guy I asked were the opposite. Nope. No sex. It’s weird they said. All guys were between 25 – 45 years old.
Now I know a handful of people is hardly a microcosm for countries and continents and I’d need to do a huge survey and research this for about a zillion years before I can start making assumptions and generalizations but it got me thinking. Maybe our cultures play a part too? Or maybe it really is just the guy and not all guys feel that way?
When it comes to the human body us Brits and Americans are easily grossed out by things. We are ashamed. We are embarrassed. We hide. We have this pressure to look good all the time. Media pressure pushes us to constantly be in shape. We have low self esteem. We hate how we look. We don’t talk about bodily functions or ailments in public. Nudity is frowned upon in public places. We are private, reserved and just don’t share too many personal things. Yet we talk about sex in magazines, share sex tips and things seem to be very open on the sex front. (Pun not intended.)
In Eastern Germany and Ukraine things are, well … a bit different. From the time I unknowingly walked into a mixed sauna (not even bathing suits –nope—men and women naked together), opening teenage magazines to find light pornography inside, to being asked about my bowel movements by distant relatives around a table of about 30 people (meeting them for the first time), I guess I’ve had a crash course and been forced into opening up and adjusting my views on nudity, the human body and boundaries. And it was uncomfortable and embarrassing but strangely, somewhat liberating. What is one person’s view on losing their dignity is another’s view of, “it’s natural and what God created.”
In East Germany, Germans are into nudism (FKK). They see the body perhaps more as functional and everyone knows what the opposite sex looks like so they don’t see why people should be embarrassed about being naked. They are much more relaxed, comfortable and secure in their own birthday suits and don’t have a problem with getting their kit off. Ukrainians and Russians are probably not into nudism as much but they’ll happily sit around discussing ailments and bodily issues. East Germany and West Ukraine however, still don’t talk openly about sex. That’s for behind closed doors. I think in Ukraine particularly, that is largely down to the religious culture but when it comes to families and kids Ukrainian men love them and can’t wait to get their wives pregnant it seems (my husband is an exception). And when pregnant, the women cook, clean, keep house, raise the other kids and sometimes work and the men earn the money. It’s the 1950’s just with smart phones and modern fashion trends. They haven’t really adjusted and taken on the same viewpoints and worries like we have in the West and pregnancy isn’t only functional but something from God; something beautiful and sexy.
In the West though, doctors are quick to sign pregnant women off work for 9 months, not being able to lift or carry nor do vigorous exercise so no wonder men think they are delicate and can’t do anything. No wonder guys think they will hurt them or the baby if they have sex. Then there’s all the talk about sex in the media but no one ever writes articles about pregnancy sex, other than the lack of sex they are having when pregnant. Maybe we’re too open about sex and that has caused a problem? Perhaps the not talking about pregnancy sex makes guys think they shouldn’t be having it? Sometimes too much information or a lack of information can cause problems. And maybe when it comes to sex and relationships, maybe we should just be a little more Ukrainian and private. Behind closed doors you can do what you like. Stop listening to all the magazines and other rubbish out there and make up your own minds about how you feel.
And whether it’s a culture thing or a man / woman thing, one thing is clear: both of you need to talk about sex. About sex during pregnancy. About all the uncomfortable, awkward, and troubling issues and things that make it weird for you. About nudity and your fears and insecurities. You need to work through them, read up on things together and challenge yourselves and your perspectives and decide how you feel and what you’re actively going to do about it because ignoring the issues and having a sexless relationship isn’t the answer. Sex is an important part of a relationship, creates that special bond between two people and is the difference between friendship and lovers and quite frankly, sex is beautiful, amazing and fun.
So with that said, here are a few ideas I came up with that couples could try to create the mood and come closer together during pregnancy. There’s also this list for generally spicing up your relationship. Like I said, I don’t have any experience being pregnant so feel free to add ideas or correct / give your insights in the comments below. 🙂
Now go have some amazing sex you beautiful people!
A few ideas how to keep the intimacy throughout pregnancy:
- Girls, do a sexy yet tasteful pregnancy boudoir photoshoot
- Couples pregnancy photoshoot
- Massaging each other
- Have a bath / shower together
- Initiate sex
- Masterbate in front of each other
- Try oral sex
- Try new or different positions, try using sex toys
- Girls, don’t tell your partner every single gory detail about birth stories from others / morning sickness / toilet habits –not a turn on
- Guys, kiss her bump, touch it, stroke it, get used to it being there
- Guys, tell her you love her and take her on dates
- Guys, kiss and touch her, hold hands
- Spend quality romantic time together and not always focused on / around baby related things
- Girls, remind yourself you are beautiful and are carrying a new life inside you and this change is normal
- Talk to your partner! Communicate, talk, discuss, share! Don’t ignore each other or assume things will be alright again in 9 months once baby has arrived.
- Guys, talk to other men about how they felt when their partners were pregnant. Check out this website for starters: https://mrdad.com/
- Guys and girls, read up on how to keep the spark and intimacy going throughout pregnancy (not just all the functional pregnancy books!)
- Confront your issues, figure out your feelings and emotions and discuss these with your partner and look at ways to handle the changes happening in your lives
- Girls, stop throwing hundreds of baby related things at your guys and give him a chance to adjust and come to terms with becoming a father in his own time (mainly for first time dads)
- Be patient with each other and give each other space when you need it
- Support each other and work together as a team, help each other
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