Get it on, in your own time, on your own red-hot term
Cosmo girls have sizzling sex. They scorch up the sheets and drive their men to distraction with ticklers and little finger tricks. They do things like lick their lips seductively, answer the door in French knickers holding a bowl of whipped cream and disappear under the bistro table, with a pat of butter.
Intimidating for the rest of us, who schedule the event a few days ahead and inevitably either forget or sleep through the Sunday morning sex date.
We must remember : Cosmo girls are eighteen, wear a size 6 and do not have babies. But women’s magazines are where most of us learned about sex – how to do it better, how to wrap our legs around our ears like a pretzel and how to go multiple. It’s also how we all like to think we are in bed. And that may be true – for the first six months of a relationship.
Despite all the advice out there, there’s a small gap in the market about how to keep a sizzling sex life going fifteen years and three children later. In fact, forget sizzling, any sex at all will do. And don’t be fooled into thinking it only drops off after three kids. Even just the one can take up all your energy and time: all of a sudden you realise that the last time you had sex was after seven Kir Royales at Aunt Tilly’s sixtieth … and that was six months ago.
THAT KIND OF ADVICE REMAINS IN A DIFFERENT SECTION ALTOGETHER – advice columns on sexual problems or pamphlets in the doctor’s waiting room. The fact that boredom, lack of libido and an end to sex remain on the letters pages perpetuates the myth that good sex is something that just happens and no sex means you are abnormal or have a problem. Well, that may be true of the first few years in a relationship, but it’s only the exceptional couple who doesn’t have to work harder than Britney Spears to stay on top.
Sex may have got you into a relationship. It may have kept you going until that first child arrives, but after that, the two of you are going to have to work just to keep it going.
Sex is no longer spontaneous. Much like your relationship, it’s not going to happen unless you do something about it.
Couples aren’t warned about all this. You’re totally unprepared for the knock your sex life will take once your baby has arrived.
Most couples, understandably, believe that once the baby is born, their life will go right back to how it was pre-pregnancy. In fact, many men count down the days during the last few months to the return of regular sex. In the first few weeks, the delusion may persist as you are both enveloped in a hormonal love cocoon that will see you packing in some fast and creative action (although you don’t even have time to floss). But the cold reality will set in fast. You are exhausted, sleep deprived, anxious, angry, frustrated, stressed, and, as the mom, also bleeding, sore and large.
You do not want sex.
Welcome to parenting, where what you thought is not what you get. Let’s get the facts out of the way first:
Your doctor will tell you to wait six weeks, to be certain all is in the clear. But in reality, few couples wait that long. Your body is flooded with oxytocin, “the hormone of love”, and you may want a bit of lovin’ to go with it.
The primary concern is infection, not pain. Your body is still incredibly vulnerable to infection, and the last thing you want to contend with is a complication at this point. If you were going to cut it fine, week two would be acceptable. By the second week normal episiotomy stitches and lacerations have largely healed and your cervix has closed. Bruising and swelling will have gone down significantly.
If you experienced any complications or concerns during your birth – any severe lacerations or cuts, haemorrhage or significant blood loss – you are definitely going to have to wait six weeks before you get the go-ahead.
C-section delivery means you have escaped all stress to your vagina and just have to watch out for general infection and cleanliness.
As a rule of thumb, you should wait until the heavy red bleeding has stopped.
Be sensible. If you feel pain, stop. You have not had an internal examination and you could have something a bit out of place. It would be unforgivably silly to cause damage to yourself for a few minutes of fun.
Use your imagination. Sex is not only about penetration! Some possibilities include sexy stares across the room, dirty talk, sen- sual massage, showering or bathing together, mutual masturbation or anything else in between.
Fear factor : Contraception
Although breastfeeding releases a hormone, prolactin, that helps suppress ovulation, you are a brave woman if you count only on breastfeeding for contraception. Nothing could be more terrifying that the thought of another pregnancy when you are battling with endless 24 hour cycles of feeding and burping. And yet, it happens. Not to us sassy girls who do our research, of course. But it does happen.
Those who rely on breastfeeding to keep the swimmers in check are following a method called lactational amenorrhoea method or LAM. This is a system, developed in 1988, by a group of scientists who met in Bellagio, Italy to define a set of guidelines that a woman could use to predict her fertility while breastfeeding. They concluded that exclusive breastfeeding could provide up to ninety-eight per cent effective contraception, if three criteria are met:
· Your periods have not resumed. (Bleeding up to the fifty-sixth postpartum day is considered part of the postpartum recovery process and is not counted as menstrual bleeding.)
· You are fully, or nearly fully, breastfeeding. This means you are supplementing no more than fifteen per cent of all feeds with any other liquid – goat’s milk, formula, water or special supplements.
· The baby is less than six months old.
Now we like the idea that this is ninety-eight per cent effective, but we don’t want to be one of the two per cent who slip through the gap. This is why most obstetricians will recommend you supplement with additional birth control methods, such as condoms or a progesterone-only pill. (Combined oestrogen- progestogen pills can interfere with breastfeeding).
Do not use the return of your period as a gauge of your fertility. Don’t forget that you ovulate and are fertile some fourteen days before you bleed, plenty of time for a sneaky fertilisation to take place, and you will be none the wiser for some time. Women who don’t breastfeed usually find their menstrual cycle returns to normal rapidly – within about four to six weeks, but fertility can return from the second week postpartum.
Are breasts only for baby?
Certainly not; although your husband may have a little trouble regarding them as sexual objects while they are leaking milk and strapped in a fleshtone cotton feeding bra around the clock. There is a bizarre contradiction going on in your relationship already. Your breasts belong to your baby right now and that’s a strange concept for both of you. Your husband is probably as familiar with your breasts as you are and they are looking mighty fine and full right now. But they have a little mouth attached and that’s quite a change. Whether it’s jealousy or curiosity that spurs it, there’ll be a bigger mouth attached at some time. If there is a husband in the house who says he has not sampled breast milk, there is only one response: Liar. As long as you are comfortable with it, go ahead. He is not going to deprive your child of nutrition.
If you are bottle-feeding you can go back on your old method of contraception. But breastfeeding mothers need to consult their obstetricians and will usually be placed on a progestogen-only pill, aka the Mini Pill. Combined oestrogen-progestogen pills can interfere with breastfeeding. 99.9% effective
This latex device has a bad rep, as men moan about loss of sensation, but this is still the contraception of choice for many women as you avoid the side effects that can be associated with other methods. One way that your husband can improve his sensitivity is to practise by masturbating while wearing a condom. If you have postpartum vaginal dryness, you will need to make liberal use of a water-based lubricant during sex. 90% effective
You will be nabbed with a quarterly injection of progesterone that will suppress ovulation. If you are thinking of a second baby, give this option a skip as the hormone lingers in your system. It takes six to nine months before you are fertile again. 99.7% effective
Intrauterine devices have come a long way since they were a coiled loop or a copper-T. The most commonly used brand is Mirena. This only needs replacing every five years and is fitted by your obstetrician. It slowly secretes a hormone called levonorgestrel into your womb, where it thickens the mucus and thins the lining of the womb, to prevent eggs implanting. Extremely effective in treating heavy periods. 98% effective
This option has been approved in the US and should be available in South Africa soon. A patch dispensing both oestrogen and progestogen is applied to your stomach, butt or arm. You slap a new one on once a week and go patch-free for the fourth week (much the like the placebo pills in the Pill). If you’re not breastfeeding, you can go on the patch as early as four weeks after delivery. As with other methods, ask your physician for a prescription. It’s not recommended for breastfeeding women. 99% effective
Since the same hormone, oxytocin, released during sex also causes your milk to eject, do not be surprised if you are suddenly spouting fountains of milk from your breasts as you get aroused. It can be a bit of a shock but it’s usually hilarious. The best way to get around this is to nurse before you are planning any action.
Getting Hot while Nursing
I had an incredibly powerful feeling, that all my insides were moving when I breastfed. Except the movement wasn’t arousal – I wanted a bowel movement. Not exactly common, said my mid- wife. But then I’ve never really wanted to be common.
The vast majority of women feel lots of unusual things while breastfeeding – but very few actually feel aroused. Although it’s rare, it’s not impossible. Nipples may sit on the crest of your breast but they are the starting point of far more. During sex, stimulation of your nipples can be intensely arousing, causing sensations that shoot down your stomach and into your groin. Having a small baby attached to your nipple is also going to spark an awareness of feelings in your body you may not have felt before. There is nothing sexual about breastfeeding, so don’t feel guilty about arousal. It’s not as though you are finding your baby appealing, nor does it mean there is anything physically or emotionally wrong with you. It’s a hormonal release. Both nursing and sex depend on increased levels of oxytocin, a hormone that also triggers the milk letdown reflex. The hormone also stimulates your need for physical touch.
To think that a baby may become aroused is obviously utter nonsense. Of course, breastfeeding feels lovely and comforting to a baby, but there is no correlation with a sexual feeling. Most women feel a huge amount of satisfaction and an intense intimacy from breastfeeding. It is a tragedy if you equate that with anything improper.