What can you and your partner can do to maintain intimacy when you just don’t feel like doing the deed?
“Maintaining intimacy during pregnancy is incredibly important, because after that baby is born you won’t have time to breathe, let alone touch each other. Having a baby is wonderful but also stressful, so you have to make sure you’re both making the effort to not become roommates—you still need to be romantic partners as you become parenting partners,” explains Logan Levkoff, M.S., a certified sex educator. “Redefine what sex is while you’re pregnant [or a new parent] and don’t want physical intercourse. There is a range of other activities where you can experience pleasure and intimacy.”
We asked the experts for their input on some intercourse-free, intimate activities you and your partner can do together, and here are the ones we think are worth a try.
Go back to the basics
Remember when you first met your guy and just holding hands or brushing against his thigh made you all tingly? That just goes to show that even the smallest acts of affection can do a lot to increase the love between two people. “Holding hands, hugging, kissing—activating each others tactile senses forges intimacy. When a woman holds her husband’s hand, her stress levels go down which is healthier for both her and the baby,” says Debbie Mandel, M.A., a stress management/relationship expert and author of Turn on Your Inner Light.
“In addition, touching intimately shows her husband that she loves him and that not having sex is a temporary state.” So by bathing together, going for an afternoon drive, cuddling and participating in other activities that require closeness, you can help bring intimacy between you and your partner.
Enjoy a massage
“One way to stay connected is to exchange massages. Make the most of your environment; use soft lights, candles, incense, soothing music—whatever works for you. The massage can be aimed at fostering relaxation and a feeling of closeness, or it can evolve into something more erotic, stopping short of intercourse. It’s important that both giver and receiver are comfortable, particularly during pregnancy,” advise Patricia Johnson and Mark A. Michaels, authors of Tantra for Erotic Empowerment: The Key to Enriching Your Sexual Life.
And while exchanging massages is more feasible while you’re pregnant and don’t have a crying baby in the next room, there are still plenty of opportunities for post-pregnancy rubdowns. Stephanie Buehler, a licensed psychologist and sex therapist suggests that you take turns holding the baby while you rub each others necks or feet. “Healing touch is a great way to stay connected and remind yourselves that sex is more than intercourse,” says Buehler.
Practicing Tantra is a great option for experiencing intimacy with your guy when you just don’t want to be touched—whether it’s because of morning sickness or because your closeness to your baby has already fulfilled your physical needs. One method you might try is called Trataka—the principle of eye gazing. “In its most basic form, Trataka requires you to stand, facing your partner, in a comfortable and open pose while gazing softly into your partner’s eyes,” explain Johnson and Michaels. “Some couples find this quite difficult at first, but it’s a wonderful way to recreate the experience and physiological state of falling in love.”
When you and your partner become comfortable with eye gazing, try synchronizing your breathing. “If you do this in conjunction with eye gazing, you should be able to use both visual and auditory cues to determine when you’re in sync. If you aren’t looking at each other, you can rely on the rise and fall of your partner’s chest. Consciously synchronizing with your partner is a way to harmonize and create a calming, peaceful intimacy,” say Johnson and Michaels.