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RELATIONSHIPS SEX APPEAL Siri’s six tips for maintaining a healthy sex life. 1 Plan for sex. “Scheduling an appointment for sex might not be the most romantic thing you’ve ever heard, but it may well be crucial. Talk to your partner and set a specific time and date for intimacy. If it bothers you to plan for this, try to remember that it’s only temporary. As your child grows older, your sex life should return to being more spontaneous.” 2 Change your sexual routine. “Following birth, it’s not uncommon for sexual tastes or comfort levels to change. Communicate with one another about what feels good now or what might need to change for the time being. For example, she might take time to heal before penetration is possible, especially in the beginning. Morning sex might also be easier for two people with busy schedules, as the longer the day goes on, the less energetic you will feel.” 3 Manage your sleep deprivation. “Lack of sleep is probably the biggest obstacle to sex, as most new parents will understandably prioritise getting some shut-eye. Easier said than done, but try to maximise the amount of sleep you both get. This involves resting when the baby rests during the day. It also means both partners need to pitch in during the night shift no matter who stays home and who goes to work – both are full time jobs! Try and find a night schedule that suits you both.” 4 Quality Time. “In order to become intimate, the majority of us need to feel socially connected to our partners, which is why spending quality time together is so important. This is made difficult because the fact of the matter is that the baby is taking up most of your time. Time together is pushed aside because other things seem more pressing, but nothing could be further from the truth. If you want to take good care of the baby, you must take good care of yourselves. Prioritise quality time together that doesn’t involve the baby. Get a babysitter or take the grandparents up on their offer to look after your little one while you go out to dinner and talk about things other than parenthood. You can also make time by getting your baby on a sleep schedule that allows you both to have adult time in the evenings.” 5 Negotiation & Communication. “There are bound to be disagreements and misunderstandings during the first few months – becoming a parent is one of the greatest but most stressful experiences of your life. Therefore, open communication is a must. Talk to your partner about your sex life, what you need, what you want, and what would be helpful, so that they know where you stand. If you don’t know how your partner is feeling, ask them. This might be uncomfortable at first, but it’s key to having a healthy sex life and a good relationship.” 6 Play nice. “Try and be grateful for what your partner does right, give compliments, say thank you and I love you. When we feel appreciated, we feel safe and when we feel safe, we’re far more likely to seek intimacy and physical comfort through sex.” ■ Dr Siri Harrison is a Clinical Psychologist from Efficacy, the UK’s largest and leading independent Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) service. See londoncognitivebehaviouralpsychotherapy.co.uk for details. FQ 53