Author: Selena Kitt -
When I was pregnant with my first baby, I didn’t feel like having sex much during the first trimester—I was nauseous and exhausted. During the second trimester, I felt back to my old self, in fact, I wanted sex more than ever, it seemed, but then my husband seemed suddenly disinterested in sex, which was very unusual for him. I thought it was because of my growing tummy, but when we talked, I discovered that he thought sex might harm the baby! That’s just one of the many common misconceptions about sex during pregnancy. Having a baby doesn’t mean the sex stops, (obviously, since people do have more than one baby!) it just means that you have to make a few adjustments as you grow as a couple, and a family.
Reasons Not to Have Intercourse
There are a few reasons to stop having sex during pregnancy, and your doctor will tell you about them, if they apply to you. If you are concerned, don’t by shy about asking. Things like placenta previa (where the placenta implants over the cervix), premature labor, unexplained vaginal bleeding, abdominal cramping, cervical insufficiency, a dilated cervix, or ruptured membranes (your water has broken), might be reasons for you to stop having intercourse for part or all of the duration of pregnancy.
Now, this doesn’t mean that the sexual energy can’t keep flowing between you—and there are plenty of alternatives to intercourse, including self-stimulation, mutual masturbation, oral sex and even anal sex, if you’re into that. (You just have to be meticulous about hygiene, so as not to spread any possible bacteria to the vaginal area—you want to really avoid infection during pregnancy.) If your doctor has said no orgasms (for her) this doesn’t mean that you can’t work together to stimulate him!
The majority of couples can continue to have sex throughout the entire pregnancy, but you still have to make adjustments as you go along. The female body goes through a lot of changes during those nine months, which aren’t all bad, actually. Some women become aroused more easily, they climax more quickly (some even start having multiple orgasms for the first time during pregnancy!) and many men find the new curvy, ripe bodies of their partner even sexier. The opposite is true, too, of course—some women experience a lag in their libido, and some men are turned off by the burgeoning shape of pregnancy, or they’re afraid that sex might hurt the baby. Any of these feelings are normal. As a couple, if you know what to expect, you may be able to circumvent or deal with the changes better, and this may improve your sex life during pregnancy and beyond.
In the early months, you have to battle fatigue, sometimes along with nausea and fear of miscarriage. Breasts will be enlarged, and probably more tender, so care should be taken.
Hormonal surges level off. Fatigue and morning sickness usually lessen, the fear of miscarriage subsides as the statistical risk decreases, and many women show a surge in sexual desire. The heightened sensitivity of the erogenous zones is so thrilling to many women that they experience more enthusiasm for sex during the middle months of pregnancy than at any time in their lives.
The Final Months
In the final months, a woman may feel too large, too awkward, or too preoccupied with the coming birth. In the third trimester, as the ballooning abdomen literally comes between the woman and her partner, most women report that they focus more on becoming maternal rather than being sexual. Even if the body is willing, it is often clumsy.
There are some common misconceptions about sex during pregnancy that we should get out of the way. Knowing that some of these are false may inhibit you less, and allow you both to enjoy sex more, which is always a good thing.
Sex Will Hurt the Baby
Nope. The baby is very well-protected in there. Men sometimes worry that penetration will hurt the baby, but a quick lesson in anatomy shows that, in fact, the penis isn’t hitting the baby’s head, like you may fear—it is touching the mouth of the uterus, or the cervix, which is sealed with a thick mucous plug to guard against infection. The motion of sex may actually rock your baby to sleep! Sometimes the baby will be more active after a woman has an orgasm, not because it is feeling any pain or knows what’s happening, but because it is responding to the mother’s hormone level and heart rate changes. So don’t let this myth hold back!
Sex Will Hurt The Mother
The engorgement of the vagina during this time and the ever softening cervix can be a source of discomfort at times, especially with very deep penetration, but this just requires an adjustment in terms of positions. With a little experimenting, you can find a position and technique that works for you both. Communication is key—if it hurts, stop, and try a different position or another angle. There are lots of alternate positions that I’ll talk about later that you can try. The good news is that the engorgement of the genitals and more sensitive nerve endings can also make the pleasure more intense!
Having Sex Will Cause Premature Labor
Having sex can cause contractions—but these are the “practice” contractions of labor, (called “Braxton-Hicks”) not the real deal. It’s normal for a woman to experience some uterine contractions after an orgasm or after sex. This isn’t premature labor. There is no medical evidence showing that the act of sex causes labor, although stimulation of the breasts and nipples can speed up the production of oxytocin, which can cause contractions as a woman nears her due date. As long as you’re not at risk for preterm labor, there shouldn’t be a problem. If the contractions continue longer than an hour, then call your doctor.
Oral Sex is Out
I never did understand this myth. Why would oral sex be a no-no during pregnancy? Normal oral sex won’t harm your baby at all, and it’s actually the perfect solution if you’re one of the couples who have been told not to have intercourse during pregnancy. The only risk is introducing air into the vagina, but this applies before pregnancy as well. Blowing air into the vagina could cause an air embolism (obstructing a blood vessel) which could potentially kill a woman, so that is definitely out—but regular oral sex? It’s perfectly safe!
Making it Enjoyable
There are ways to make this time in your life even better sexually than it was before. Here are a few tips and tricks to keep the fire alive during pregnancy.
1. Act Sexy
For pregnant women, there often comes a point when they don’t feel sexy anymore. Their bodies feel different, ungainly, everything feels “off.” The good news is, acting can effect feeling, so if you act sexy, you can actually start feeling sexy before you know it. This can start a wonderful cycle of acting and feeling sexy, a wave you can both ride.
2. Accentuate the Positive
Another way to feel sexy is to get a sexy new look. Try a different hairstyle, experiment with make-up, buy some sexy accessories. So, you may not be able to fit into that corset, but you can still wear a sex nightgown, or buy yourself some sexy jewelry.
Talk to each other about the way the pregnancy is effecting how you feel about sex. You may simply be under a false assumption, like I was during my first pregnancy, thinking my husband didn’t want be because I was “getting fat,” when it was really just that he was worried about hurting the baby. You never know what mountains you’re making out of mole hills until you talk about it.
4. The Power of Attraction
Women often worry that their burgeoning shape is unattractive to men, but research shows that this usually isn’t the case. Men’s eyes are actually drawn to soft curves, and you have a nice, big, soft curve up front now for him to feast his eyes on. Most men really do like the fleshy feel and look of a pregnant woman’s body. If you have convinced yourself that your partner doesn’t want you because you’re “fat,” you are probably just feeding yourself a false belief.
5. Don’t Hide
Women often try to hide their bodies as they begin to change, but this is a mistake. Most men will be fascinated by the changes, and will love to watch them over time. Try to include your partner in your body’s changes—the darkening nipples, the enlarging breasts (some men love this part!), the growing tummy bulge. Let him feel the baby move inside of you—this can be one of the most amazing, intimate moments in the world to share together.
6. Dating Again
If this is your first baby, life is going to change considerably after your little bundle of joy arrives. Now is the time to really take advantage of your last few months of being just the two of you. Start “dating” each other again—or take weekend trips away a few times, if you can. The second trimester is the best time to do this, because of increased sexual energy, and the fact that the belly hasn’t gotten too big, yet. Make an effort to really connect and spend some romantic time together during the pregnancy.
7. “Gift” not “Service”
Sometimes women really lose their desire to have sex during pregnancy, especially during the first few months, and in the last few weeks. Sex isn’t an obligation or duty, and most men don’t like to be “serviced” as if it is. If you are truly feeling ill, there is no reason to have sex—but if it’s just a laissez-faire kind of thing, where you’re feeling listless or tired, give it a go anyway. You will often find that acting sexy, again, makes you start to feel sexy. Take advantage of the “up” times to gift your partner with your sexuality, rather than feeling it is a duty or an obligation.
Alternative Sexual Positions
Comfort should come first. If she’s not comfortable, you should stop and try something else. It may require a position change, or some other small adjustment. Again, communication is always key. Women shouldn’t be afraid to tell their partner’s when they’re feeling uncomfortable.
This position still works, if you use pillows! It’s amazing what a pillow or two can do! Try experimenting with raising her hips with a cushion under them. This keeps the tummy tilted away from him. Also, he can kneel between her legs, instead of being directly over her. This also works well with a few pillows under her hips. It reduces clitoral stimulation, but leaves him free stimulate her there with his hand. This position also works well if a woman can bring her bottom to the edge of the bed (or couch or chair) and he can stand or kneel, depending on the height of the furniture. You should also know that laying flat on your back in late pregnancy can sometimes make a woman dizzy, because the uterus presses on a main artery along the spine. If this happens, just change positions.
Woman on Top
This one is a great position, because she has control of the amount of penetration, and sitting up on him leaves lots of room for her tummy. She can also turn around to face his feet, if their bellies get in each other’s way (sometimes dads put on “sympathetic weight” during pregnancy!) She can also try squatting over him, but towards the end of pregnancy, this requires more balance than she may have, and he may have to help, but it does provide lots of room for him to stimulate her clitoris.
This works better if the man is behind her, kind of spooning and entering her that way. She can reach down and stimulate her clitoris. Facing each other is more difficult, but it can be done, in a kind of “scissoring” posture. If you like this position, just keep experimenting until you get it right for both of you.
This is a great third-trimester position. You can put a pillow under her tummy for support. If deep penetration is a problem, have her press her shoulders to the bed while she’s on her knees, so she can reach under and wrap her thumb and forefinger around the base of his penis, to keep him from going in too far. She can have more control this way, and he doesn’t have to gauge whether or not he’s hurting her. You can try this position standing as well, just make sure you have a sturdy object for her to hang onto.
If you are one of those couples who has been told “no intercourse”—or you’re just finding it too difficult, no matter what position you try—there are alternatives!
Mutual masturbation is fun, especially if you talk to each other throughout. Maybe this is a good time to share some hot fantasies! This may also be a good time to invest in a vibrator if you don’t have one already. This can help, whatever positions you decide to be in, for manual stimulation of the clitoris.
If she’s been advised not to have an orgasm, then oral sex for him, or a hand job, are the best ways for you to probably go, or he can stimulate himself while she whispers into his ear. If you are woman whose doctor has said orgasm is ok, just no penetration, then while you may not be able to do the traditional “69” position, you can do a modified version. The woman gets up on her hands and knees, and faces his genitals, just as she would for a 69 position, but instead of climbing onto him, she moves as close as she can, her knee against his shoulder. He can manually stimulate her clitoris from this position while she gives him oral. Oral sex should be fine right up until the end, and it’s something you can both enjoy.
Anal sex is something you probably won’t read about in most “sex and pregnancy” articles, but this is Enticed Touch, and statistically speaking, there are probably more people here who have tried it than not. If anal sex was already part of your repertoire, you can continue doing this. The only issues are, as always, never go from anal to vaginal penetration, to avoid infection. You need to be even more vigilant during pregnancy about this rule.
Sex After Birth
So you’ve made it through the pregnancy, and now you know what they meant when they said that life after baby is just never the same—and that includes sex! It doesn’t mean that your sex life will be worse, just keep in mind that things may bedifferent. In fact, some women say they experienced a shift for the better in their sex lives after baby was born. Here are some tips for postpartum sex that may help you make that adjustment:
-- Have sex when you’re ready, and not until then. Most health care providers ask that you wait 4-6 weeks postpartum (until bleeding has stopped) usually because of the risk of infection. Some women are ready very quickly (1 week postpartum!) and some need more time (4 months or more). The average time is about seven weeks.
-- Lubrication! Make sure you and your partner take enough time to get into the mood and that you're feeling moist enough to handle it. If you think you need some more help than what mother nature is providing, be sure to use an over the counter lubricant rather than worry needlessly. If you're still concerned, talk to your practitioner.
-- Experiment together! Side-lying positions or woman-on-top gives more control over penetration and allows a woman to gauge how much pressure is being put on parts that may still be healing. If you try intercourse and it’s uncomfortable or painful, simply stop and try again another time. There’s always cuddling and petting, oral sex, or mutual masturbation, which are all fun, too! The most important part is being close and feeling good.
-- Contraception is a must, even for nursing mothers, if you don’t want to get pregnant again quickly. Ask your health care provider’s advice about the best contraception options for you.
-- Healing from an episiotomy or even a cesarean birth can take a long time, much longer than the standard 4-6 weeks they say to abstain from intercourse, sometimes months, even up to a year. If pain persists after an episiotomy, you can ask your practitioner for an estrogen cream that may help.
-- There may be several psychological issues that will make you hesitate to take the plunge back into your sex life. Fatigue, poor body image, a feeling that your body and breasts belong to the baby, jealousy (on your partner’s side, of the baby and the time and attention he/she is receiving), fear of conception (another pregnancy), fear that things “won’t be the same” now that he has seen you give birth. Any and all of these may hold you back. The key here is communication. Talk about your feelings with your partner and ask him about his.
Just because you have made the decision to have a child, doesn’t mean that your sex life is shot. Children bring challenges to everything, and that includes sex—but they also bring joy, and the changes you experience in everything will be an adjustment that you can and will make. Sex during or after pregnancy doesn’t have to be a chore or a battle. The key is good communication, a sense of humor, and a great deal of love. Keep connecting with one another throughout the pregnancy, and after the birth, and you will find ways to enjoy sex during pregnancy and beyond!