Many pregnant couples have a lot of questions when it comes to their sexual relationship during the pregnancy. There are many different ways that a pregnant woman will experience her sexuality during pregnancy and it can sometimes differ greatly from how she felt about her sexuality before and after pregnancy. Couples want to know if having sex is safe for the baby, how their sexual desire might change throughout the pregnancy, different positions, and various other questions.

Is having sex safe during pregnancy?

This is one of the top questions that couples have. The simple answer is yes, it is safe. Your baby is protected within the amniotic sac, the uterus and the surrounding muscles. Apart from that, the mucus plug in your cervix will protect the baby from any infections (although if you have concerns about sexually transmitted infections, you should always use protection). Unless a doctor has specifically told you that you can’t have sex because of some kind of complication with your pregnancy it will be safe to have sex right up until you go into labor. Such complications can include placenta previa, premature labor, unexplained vaginal bleeding or abnormal discharge, cervical insufficiency, a dilated cervix, when your water has broken, if you or your partner have or feel an outbreak of genital herpes coming on, or have other sexually transmitted infections. If you ever have any doubts about whether or not it’s safe to have sex during your pregnancy, your safest bet is to check with your doctor. If your doctor says that sex is off limits for you, make sure to have him or her define what sex is. You might still be able to have oral sex, engage in mutual masturbation or other forms of intimacy even if vaginal intercourse is off the table for the time being.

Will we want to have sex?

Pregnancy is an interesting time. A woman’s body is changing extremely quickly and she will feel those changes both physically and emotionally. Different women experience different symptoms throughout pregnancy which will also affect her desire to have sex. Some women find that they have an increased libido all throughout their pregnancy and others find that they have no interest in sex at all. Then there are some whose desire ebbs and flows over the 9 month period. They might be greatly affected by first trimester symptoms, such as fatigue, nausea and moodiness, but their desire returns in the second trimester. It’s also common for desire to fade in the final months of pregnancy as many women begin to feel tired and uncomfortable in their bodies.

There are also psychological issues to consider. Some women feel beautiful and sexy in their fertile, pregnant bodies, while others feel bloated, fat and uncomfortable. How a woman feels about her body will often directly affect her sexuality. Another common psychological issue that both women and men have during the pregnant month is concerns about the baby. Some worry about harming the baby even if they have been assured that they can have sex by their physician. Others might feel that it is somehow wrong to have sex because of the close proximity to the baby. Men might have trouble seeing their partner as a sexual being and as a mother at the same time. Women can also struggle with that same issue. Anxiety about labor and being a parent can also affect the libido leading up to birth.

Communication is Key

Whether a couple is feeling sexually connected during pregnancy or not, it’s incredibly important to maintain good communication. Not talking about how they’re feeling can lead to misunderstandings and hurt feelings. If a couple is not able to have sex or is having libido issues, together they can explore other ways to be intimate with each other and connect.

How will sex be different?

Apart from all the physical symptoms of pregnancy, the hopes and fears of labor, the

anxiety about being a parent and all the other emotions, women might find that sex actually feels physically different as well. During pregnancy women will experience increased blood flow to the genital area, which could result in engorged genitalia. The increased blood flow could make the area much more sensitive and result in more pleasure for her. Women also have an increase in vaginal discharge during pregnancy, which can help provide more lubrication during sex and hence more pleasure.

Some women enjoy these physical changes, but for others the engorged genitals could feel uncomfortable, giving them a kind of full feeling that makes sex less enjoyable. Her breasts might also feel extremely tender, which could make this area off limits to her partner. Others find the sensitivity of the breasts and nipples to be exciting and pleasurable.

If a favorite sex position is uncomfortable there are several sexual positions that a pregnant couple can try:

      The woman straddling her partner as he lies flat. This allows the woman to control the depth of penetration, speed, and intensity of intercourse while keeping pressure off of her belly.

      Lie side by side in a “spoons” position. The man will be facing the woman’s back.

      The woman will lie on her side with her partner on his knees entering her from the side (this is a kind of modified doggy style position with the woman on her side instead of facing down).

      The woman can lie down at the edge of the bed with her legs hanging off and her partner kneels or stands in front of her. A pillow can be propped under her back for comfort.

If a couple isn’t interested in sexual intercourse or has been instructed not to engage in it, they can try other sexual activities, such as oral sex, mutual masturbation, and erotic massage.

As with all things having to do with pregnancy, each woman can experience sex and desire differently. If a couple has any concerns about a particular symptom or their sexual activity in general they shouldn’t hesitate to contact their physician. Pregnancy can be a wonderful time for a couple, but it’s important to find ways to connect on an intimate level, whether that intimacy includes sex or not. 

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Sex during pregnancy: Is it safe for the baby? by UrbanSculpt staff writer Meghan Stone, MSW, MEd is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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