Ready for Sex? Here's What to Know

If there's one theme at iVillage that members write in most about or discuss in chat as their cry for help, it's how to rekindle sex after having a baby. Here are some tips for "sexual recovery for new moms."

There are three basic factors that affect your sexuality as you transit into motherhood. First is pregnancy itself. As you may know, pregnancy wreaks havoc not just with your shape but also with the internal hormonal soup. As the body prepares itself for the nourishment of a developing fetus and for the ensuing delivery through the birth canal, hormonal changes occur. They usually leave a woman in a perfectly natural, nonsexual state. That transition from having your body be a place for pleasure with your partner (the grown-up guy you married or live with) to a temple for procreation may be a rocky road. Don't pressure yourself -- but do keep in touch with your (and your partner's) sexual self through plenty of cuddling and loving touching. (Some women, however, do feel surges of sexual desire, and unless your obstetrician tells you to avoid sexual engagement, have all the sex you want.)

The second thing that affects our perceptions of ourselves as sexual beings is the birth process itself. When that baby passes down the vaginal canal, what once was a pleasure center is now a baby chute, and you may never think about it the same way again. On top of that, many women find that birth has altered the way they feel in the vagina -- the common complaint is that they feel "looser." Here's what you can do. Exercise the inner muscles, called the PC (pubococcyceal) muscles. These are the undergirdle of the pelvis in both men and women, also affectionately known as the "love muscles" -- even if you have not just had a baby, you need to keep these tightened up for good sex. I suggest that you do them once a day, three rounds each, at the same time each day. Use a method that will get you to focus on this act, such as when you floss your teeth at night, when you put the key in the ignition, when you watch the Today Show before your baby's morning feeding or when you head off to the tennis courts.

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