>> Make the effort.
Speaking of courtship, it’s easy to let things go when you’re pregnant or a brand-new mom. But unless you make the effort to light a spark, spontaneous combustion isn’t likely. Waddling around the house in a spit-up-stained muumuu, allowing days to pass between showers—these are not sex-inspiring behaviors. Do your part to make it happen, or it won’t.
>> Seize the moment.
If you wait until the perfect opportunity (Your pregnant belly has temporarily deflated for romantic purposes! The baby is with grandma and you’re at a B&B in Tuscany!), your child may be in college before you have sex again. Yes, you should carve out time for serious lovemaking, but in the interim (read: your real life), make hay whenever and wherever the sun shines.
>> Go slow after the baby is born.
Plan on a sex hiatus in the weeks after your baby’s birth. First, physical recuperation is a must. Second, the demands of early parenthood can be totally depleting.
“The oxytocin released during breastfeeding is the same hormone that is released when a woman has an orgasm,” Maltz says. “To your body, breastfeeding can be like having several orgasms a day.” (Not that nursing feels like an orgasm, but it can be equally tiring.)
Be realistic about your sex drive: Lingering soreness, constant fatigue and feeling “touched out” all may contribute to flagging desire. This is a good time for other kinds of connecting and communicating.
Once you’re ready and you have your doctor’s OK, around six weeks postpartum you can resume having intercourse; just take it easy the first few times. Because nursing can lower hormone levels, many breastfeeding women find a water-based lubricant helpful. Most women (men, too) may find a glass of wine salubrious. Just don’t overdo it if you are nursing.
>> Welcome the new era.
A postpartum slump may be nature’s way of making sure your children are appropriately spaced. But don’t let celibacy become a lifelong habit—if it persists for months on end, talk to your doctor. Then again, don’t fret excessively about how your sex life has changed.
It’s a cliché, but soon enough your “waistline” will measure less than 60 inches, your episiotomy stitches won’t throb, and your child won’t always respond by crying hysterically, Pavlov-style, every time you and your partner get near each other. Enjoy your new life, sexual challenges and all.