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Written by: Sandra Blue

Gulp! Your doctor has given you the “all clear” to resume sexual activity after birthing your baby. Now you just need the libido, the energy, and a good night’s sleep to go with it and maybe sex would sound remotely interesting again.

To alleviate some of the worries that you may have about sex after pregnancy, here are ten no-pressure, back-to-sex tips for new moms. Remember, regardless of what your doctor says, when it comes to getting back to sex, the most important timeline to follow is your own.

Don’t take low libido personally. If you are worried about lack of sexual desire since you had your baby, don’t take it personally. Most new moms deal with low libido after pregnancy. An infant’s needs make being a new mom one of the most intense stages of a woman’s life. Time and patience will get you through the challenges of early parenthood ─ including baby steps to intimacy.

Practice sensual touch. Just because you received the medical clearance to resume intercourse, doesn’t mean you have to jump right to it. Sensual touch alone and with your partner feels good, eases fears, reduces pain, and provides a gentle re-acquaintance with sex. Tell your partner what types of sexual intimacy you are, and are not, ready for. Remind your partner that soft and gentle is the way to go.

Exhaustion takes a toll. I can tell you to nap when the baby naps, but you know that already. However, when you are dealing with chronic exhaustion ─ as most new moms are ─ your libido is the first thing to go. See your libido-lag for what it is: a natural byproduct of exhaustion and of the extreme need your precious baby has for you. Rest when you can and be patient with your expectations of yourself.

Help for sluggish hormones. The hormones estrogen and progesterone fluctuate in a woman’s body after childbirth as they gradually return to a post-pregnancy state. Some of the not-so-great side effects can include vaginal dryness and lowered libido. Your hormone levels will even out, usually after a few months, although this can take longer for breastfeeding moms. To combat vaginal dryness, find a great brand of lubricant and use it generously during sex. One thing to remember: never use oil-based lubrication with latex condoms, since oil deteriorates latex and puts you at increased risk for (unplanned) pregnancy.

Rewire your brain for pleasure. For a new mom, getting your head around the thought of sex as a pleasurable possibility is often half the battle. Put someone else on baby duty while you take a bath, relax, have a glass of wine, and read a romance novel or erotic book. Or catch up on your favorite steamy television series. Whatever puts you in the mood, do it to prepare your mommy-brain for sensual pleasures.

Don’t forget your Kegels. Sex coach and author Dr. Patti Britton suggests doing sixty pelvic floor exercises (Kegels) a day to see noticeable positive sexual improvements after three weeks. For moms who have just given birth, Kegels are key. They increase urinary control, vaginal lubrication, and enhance pleasure during sex. To find your pelvic floor muscles, stop the flow while urinating. You have located your Kegels. Now, with an empty bladder (Kegel exercises while urinating actually weaken the pelvic floor), squeeze and repeat. Do twenty Kegels each time you brush your teeth or comb your hair, and your pelvic floor will thank you.

Enjoy your new voluptuousness. Welcome to the new curvier you. Did you know that you can still enjoy sex even with a muffin top, love handles, cellulite, or giggly bits? In fact, most women have one or more of these body issues. You may be feeling uncomfortable about the changes pregnancy has brought to your body. Just remember, sexual pleasure is for women of every shape and size, so don’t discriminate against your mommy body. Don’t think you have to lose your baby weight before you can enjoy sex again.

Seize the moment! Try sexual intimacy at different times of the day when your energy levels are higher. Put your weekends to good use and take advantage of being home together during the day. Use your baby’s nap time to sneak in some couple-time. Remember, intimacy doesn’t have to mean sexual intercourse or even time in your bedroom. Hidden, heated embraces anywhere in the house can amp up the fun.

Practice honest sexual communication. Be honest with yourself and your partner about how you feel sexually. Janice, a mom of two, suggests that new moms listen carefully to their bodies and honor when they feel ready for intimacy. “If you feel pressured into having sex, it will lead to feeling resentful and that’s not good for any relationship.” Explain why you don’t feel ready for sex or why you need a different approach to intimacy. Your partner is less likely to feel rejected if you share your feelings honestly. Practicing strong sexual communication is a long-term skill that benefits every relationship.

Honor yourself. The most important sex advice for any new mom is: don’t get so caught up in caring for your baby that you forget to honor how you feel emotionally and physically as a woman and as a partner. Remember, there is no right or wrong way to have sex as a new mom ─ there is only your way. And really, that’s what motherhood is all about… doing the best we can with what we have. So have at it!