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Pregnant Passions: Keep Intimacy Alive

If pregnancy has caused you and your partner to lose that lovin' feeling, don't despair; reviving intimacy may be easier than you think.

Communication Is Key

And, he cautions couples not to overlook the power of intimate conversation to ignite those loving feelings.

"When you talk about hopes and dreams and fears and longings and your secret desires -- especially in an intimate setting -- that's intimacy -- and it boosts that special partnership connection between a man and a woman and keeps them emotionally close," says Sugrue, a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Michigan Medical School.

Sounds like a reasonable plan. But as any pregnant woman can tell you, the minute she puts her head on his shoulder or asks for that intimate, bonding cuddle, his thoughts rapidly dive below the waist. Within minutes, she turns him away and he gets angry -- and both partners end up feeling guilty and pretty bad.

So what went wrong? Experts say a lack of communication is at the core.

"Key is that the woman let her partner know that not wanting intercourse does not mean she is rejecting him or their relationship -- she's simply focusing on their child for a time, and explain the fact that there is a whole lot of biology going on, at least some of which is controlling the way she feels about having sex at any given moment, " says Jerrold Shapiro, PhD, professor and chairman of counseling psychology at Santa Clara University, and author of When Men Get Pregnant.

When Momma Is Hot and Daddy Is Not

While it's often the pregnant partner that doesn't feel comfortable about having sex, Shapiro points out this is not always the case. In fact, he says, sometimes it's the man who has conflicting feelings about intercourse and intimacy -- and pulls away from the relationship, even when she's raring to go.

The way to solve that problem, says Shapiro is to put the "mommy" image aside, even for just a little while.

"If a woman thinks of herself only as 'mommy' and presents herself only as 'mommy' -- and if he is thinking of her only as 'mommy' -- for a man, that can be a real turn off to intimacy," says Shapiro.

If, however, the woman continues to think of herself as a sexual being -- and she realizes that overall, most men find their pregnant partners incredibly sexy at every stage and size -- then both partners have a better chance of continuing to relate to each other in the same intimate way they did before conception, with or without intercourse.

And, in fact, many experts agree that part of what can keep intimacy alive is for both partners to continue the sexual bond they previously established, and to try to continue to satisfy each other's physical needs as they arise.

"For the man, this might mean giving her that sensuous foot rub -- and not going above the ankles if that's what she wants at the moment; for the woman it may mean recognizing her partner's need for orgasm and helping him achieve that in whatever way she can manage to do so -- even if it does not involve intercourse," says Sugrue.

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