It’s natural to have a laundry list of questions during your pregnancy, especially if this is your first time or if you have had a prior miscarriage. One topic that may be lingering in your mind is having sex while being pregnant. Is it safe? Will it hurt my baby? Is it normal to not want to? How do I keep my partner satisfied?
According to Obstetrician Dr. Jay Goldberg, a woman’s desire to have sex during pregnancy is hormonally and environmentally related. A lot of outside factors come into play such as the state of the relationship, stresses at work, and whether it was a planned pregnancy or not.
Sex during pregnancy is safe, as long as you are experiencing a normal, uncomplicated pregnancy. It may simply be a matter of feeling up to it. Juggling hormonal fluctuations, facing body image issues, battling exhaustion and nausea, and experiencing anxious thoughts of hurting the baby, may ruin sex for you altogether. And these are not uncommon thoughts. Author Armin Brott explains that there are many changes in the sex drive during pregnancy.
Rest assured that sex during pregnancy will not cause you to have a miscarriage. Miscarriages are usually related to chromosomal abnormalities or other challenges in the developing baby. However, you may be concerned about injuring the baby during sex. Your baby is safely protected by amniotic fluid in the sac and additionally padded by your strong uterine muscles. And although you might feel strange about having sex during pregnancy, your baby does not know what is going on and will definitely not remember.
During the first trimester, a woman may feel no urge for sexual activity as a result of morning sickness and fatigue. By the second trimester, you may feel more energized as there is more lubrication in the vagina and extra sensitivity in the genitalia area. According to Brott there is a lot of blood flow and orgasms can be a lot easier to reach for the woman. However, by the third trimester, sex may seem more daunting than pleasurable, thanks to a bigger belly, overtiredness and all around discomfort from your growing baby.
It’s important to know which sexual positions are best for you and your body. During the first and second trimester, as long as you are comfy, most positions are fine. Make sure to listen to your body, and if it hurts or if you are not enjoying it, seek out other positions. Sometime during the third trimester, it is not ideal for you to lay flat on you back because the uterus can compress major blood vessels, causing pelvic pressure and pain. The traditional man-on-top, intercourse from behind and side-by-side (spooning) positions may also be uncomfortable.
One sexual activity that should be avoided is blowing into the vagina during oral sex. If air is blown into the vagina, a woman can develop an air embolus (a blocked blood vessel), which can travel into the lungs and cause a fatality. Anal sex is generally not recommended during pregnancy as well. If you are experiencing pregnancy-related hemorrhoids, anal sex may be very uncomfortable. More alarming, anal sex might introduce infectious bacteria to spread from the rectum to the vagina. Make sure that your partner wears a condom if your partner has a sexually transmitted infection.
Despite the old wives tale of sex inducing labor, it isn’t proven to activate labor regardless of how close you are to your due date. Orgasms may cause uterine contractions but they are different from labor contractions. Call your doctor if you think you are having labor pains.
According to Dr. Goldberg, sex should be avoided if:
- You have active vaginal bleeding
- Your placenta partly or completely covers your cervical opening
Do not feel guilty if you aren’t in the mood to have sex. Instead ask your partner to rub your feet, gently massage your back while lying on your side, kissing or any other type of physical contact. Keep open lines of communication with your partner and voice any concerns or thoughts you may have. Brott says a lot of couples just don’t even talk to each other about sex and as a result, they aren’t having it. Your partner will appreciate your honesty and will be supportive.
If you lack sexual desires or experience an urge of anxious thoughts, you might be suffering from prenatal depression. Clinical psychologist Shoshana Bennett explains it’s very important for woman suffering from prenatal depression to get help for the health of herself and her baby.