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|8 Out Of 10 Mums Say|
Getting back into a normal sex life after having a baby can, for many couples, be as difficult as a new mum who has piled on the pregnancy pounds getting her size 12 figure back.
Perhaps even more difficult. And just as common. According to relationships counselling organisation Relate, 80% of new mums say they feel less like having sex after having a baby than they had done before.
It's not difficult to see why. Looking after a newborn baby can be exhausting, and sleep deprivation is common in both new mums and dads. Many experts also believe new mums have a lowered sex drive after having a baby because their hormones drive them to care for and nurture their baby, rather than conceive another one.
But what happens when the shock of having a new baby wears off, and you're still not having sex? It's a vicious circle - the less you do it, the more you lose interest in it. So what's the best way to break the pattern?
Annie Bennett, a counsellor therapist and author of The Love Trap says if your sex life feels dull and predictable, it's time to make a conscious effort to bring back spontaneity by surprising your partner sexually. "Taking care of children can be exhausting, but laughter and fun will help you develop a lighter outlook," she says. "This will help ease stress and tension that builds during the monotony of everyday responsibilities."
Five ways to bring the passion back
Here are Annie's top five tips for reviving a flagging sex life - both for new parents and all couples who are finding it difficult to keep the passion alive in their relationship,
1.† Listen to music that makes you happy, feel alive and uplifted; sing along at every opportunity. This will help release endorphins to lift your mood.
2. Read books that are sexy and romantic. Take ideas from them that will be helpful and build sexual intimacy between you and your partner.
3.† Take your partner by surprise. For instance, when he comes home arrive at the door wearing your biggest coat, take it off and have your favourite sexy undies on display. Then surprise him with a special bedroom picnic that includes spread-on body chocolate and spray cream. Play together and have fun like young lovers.
4.† Leave the stresses of your responsibilities as a parent behind with role play. Choose your roles - the lusty widow and caring medic, for instance - and literally play with each other in a joyful and sexy way that makes your relationship more of an adventure rather than a predictable drudge.
5.† Make a timetable for sex and love making; schedule in fun and excitement. And keep to your schedule no matter how tired you are. Lack of sleep can be made up but losing your sexual bond could see you drifting into boredom, lack of interest and eventually fear and avoidance.
Annie Bennett has been working in the field of psychotherapy and counselling since 1994, when she trained and worked for Cruse Bereavement Care in North Surrey. She later trained and worked for Surrey Alcohol and Drug Misuse, and went on to spend time as a visiting therapist at one of the world's leading treatment centres for addition, The Meadows in Phoenix, Arizona. It was while working at The Meadows that Annie recognised her own love addiction.
THE LOVE TRAP by Annie Bennett - Price £12.99 - available from www.hammersmithpress.co.uk
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