Sex during pregnancy: top five facts
Couples are scared that sex during pregnancy will harm their baby. But most fears and worries about sex during pregnancy are unnecessary. Here are the facts…
Not only is it safe, it’s good for you
Sex is generally safe during all stages of a normal pregnancy, but you should always check with your doctor to make sure there will be no problems. If you have a history of miscarriages, for example, your doctor may ask you to avoid intercourse during the first trimester. But as long as you are having an uncomplicated pregnancy, you can go on enjoying sex right up until your due date.
And don’t be unnecessarily worried about your baby: he or she is well-protected within the womb. They will not be harmed by penetrative sex. Although some positions may cause discomfort, as long as you are relaxed, without putting too much pressure on the tummy (especially as you approach your due date), everything should be fine.
In fact, sex during pregnancy is good for you and your baby. It’s a pleasurable, full body workout that releases endorphins into the bloodstream, helping you to feel more relaxed and happy – feelings that are passed on to the little one growing within.
Furthermore, if your baby is coming soon, sex may help your body prepare for labour, as orgasm can cause the uterus to contract (good practice for birth) and a man’s semen contains a hormone called prostaglandin, which may help start contractions and soften the cervix.
It’s all about position
As your pregnancy progresses and your body undergoes changes, some of your favourite sexual positions will no longer be comfortable or even possible. Some sex positions that put too much weight on the abdomen can make things painful for the mother.
Be creative and start experimenting. Try out new positions and bring in pillows for support where needed. Any position that puts the woman on the bottom is likely to be uncomfortable. Try having sex side-by-side, with the woman on top, or in a spooning position with the man entering from behind.
Positions will also need to change as the pregnancy progresses and the body changes. In addition to position, you may also need to use a water-based lubricant – it can sometimes be harder to get wet during pregnancy.
The rollercoaster of desire
During pregnancy, it is normal for both the mother and the father to experience a change in their level of sexual desire. Some will find themselves roaring with passion, others won’t. Some women may not want to have sex – believing it will harm the baby or induce labour (even when they know it won’t!) – while for others, the changing hormones will make sex irresistible. Sometimes, particularly during the first trimester, many women find themselves too tired and nauseated and uncomfortable to have sex. Meanwhile, during the second trimester, many women experience a surge of hormones (including testosterone) that can significantly boost sex drive. Later in the pregnancy, more blood flow to the pelvic region, the freedom of not having to worry about birth control and increased sensitivity of the skin, especially around the breasts and other erogenous zones, may also increase sexual desire.
Meanwhile, it’s perfectly normal for the mother’s partner to be extra aroused by all the changes occurring in her body, particularly her growing breasts!
Communication is key
The key to great lovemaking and intimacy during pregnancy is communication. Be open and honest with your feelings, especially if you have mixed thoughts about having sex. At the same time, encourage your partner to talk about their worries and desires, especially if there has been a noticeable change in their sexual behaviour.
During sex, be sure to check in frequently to make sure your partner is enjoying the experience. You could ask: Is this position still comfortable? What can I do to make you more comfortable? Are you concerned about the baby? Should we try something different?
Even if your doctor has asked you to avoid sex, there are other ways to continue an intimate and loving relationship. Oral sex is always an alternative to penetration during pregnancy – just be careful not to blow air into the vagina. It can cause an air bubble in your blood stream, which is a very serious problem for you and your baby. You can also continue expressing your love and affection by taking romantic walks, enjoying romantic dinners, giving each other massages or watching a movie together.
When to practice abstinence
For some couples, particularly those with a history of miscarriage, doctors may advise to abstain during the first trimester. During this time, the foetus is going through big changes. So too much bumping around could harm the pregnancy.
Likewise, your doctor may also advise abstinence during the last four weeks of pregnancy, as the risk of infection from unprotected or oral sex could force you to have a c-section to avoid infecting your baby. Sex during this time could also increase the risk of early labour.
Sex will also be restricted if you have problems with your placenta. Abstinence is also essential if your cervix dilates prematurely, as this puts your baby at risk of infection.
Basically sex during pregnancy is generally okay, but first, you need to consult your doctor. If your doctor asks you to abstain during any period of your pregnancy, be sure to find out what that actually means – no penetration, no orgasms, or no sexual arousal whatsoever. Different conditions require different restrictions and this knowledge will really help you to have a safe pregnancy and enjoy a healthy relationship.
Through with your pregnancy and wondering when you can start having sex again? Here are some tips on sex after pregnancy.
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