Let’s Talk about Sex! (..During Pregnancy)

Pregnant Couple Intimate

It is not uncommon to feel apprehensive about having sex during pregnancy. Common worries we hear from both mom and partner include: if it will hurt or be uncomfortable, that it will hurt your baby, that your baby is watching or that it will cause uterine contractions that could lead to a miscarriage or preterm labor. With all the care and caution you take to care for your body and your unborn baby, it is, of course, natural to have these feelings and reservations. The good news, though, is that for the majority of women with healthy, normal pregnancies, sex is perfectly safe. Here’s everything you need to know about sex during pregnancy.

It’s Usually Safe:

Despite the fears that you or your partner might have, for the majority of women with a healthy, normal pregnancy, sex is perfectly safe. Fortunately, baby is well protected in the uterus by amniotic fluid and the mucus plug which securely separates the two. While many women are concerned about orgasms causing uterine contractions that could lead to a miscarriage or preterm labor, this is highly unlikely in a healthy pregnancy. Most miscarriages are caused by a fetal abnormality that does not allow the fetus to develop properly and preterm labor is usually not a concern unless you have certain, predetermined conditions. Although you may experience mild uterine contractions after an orgasm, they should not harm your baby at all. 

Your Baby is Not Watching:

Despite dad’s worries that baby might be ‘watching’ or that he might ‘poke him in the head’, again, baby is safe and secure in the uterus, separated not only by the amniotic fluid but a secure mucus plug which will not be released until you are in labor. Your baby will have no awareness of your intimate acts beyond possibly enjoying the rocking motion from his cozy, safe cocoon. 

It Might Be Different:

Many things about sex, starting with your drive, might be different during pregnancy. You might find that you are more interested or not at all interested, or it may wax and wane with the progression of your pregnancy and the fluctuation of your hormones. With the nausea and exhaustion associated with the first trimester, you might find that sex is the last thing on your mind while the reprieve from discomfort often experienced in the second trimester might have you desiring it more. Hormone fluctuations during pregnancy can be experienced by each woman differently so don’t be alarmed if you notice a change in your desire, one way or another. You may also find that you are able to climax more easily due to the increased blood flow to your genital region. 

In addition to your sex drive, you may find that certain positions are less comfortable with your growing belly while others are easier. Typically, opting for positions that do not put pressure on the belly or have the woman lying flat on her back for long periods of time are the safest bet. It’s also best to avoid anal sex while pregnant due to the potential for bacteria transfer and infection. Should you be sexually active with multiple partners during your pregnancy or have a partner with an active infection, it is imperative that you use protection to prevent contracting an STD. STDs can be dangerous for not only you, but your unborn baby as well. 

There Are Some Circumstances that May Make it Unsafe:

While sex during pregnancy is safe for most, there are some circumstances in which your doctor or midwife may advise against it. These may include if you:

  • Have an incompetent cervix
  • Have a history of repeat miscarriages 
  • Have a history of preterm labor
  • Have placenta previa
  • Are pregnant with multiples
  • Are high risk for a variety of other reasons
  • Have a history of pregnancy complications
  • Have bleeding or have been placed on pelvic rest.

If you have concerns about your pregnancy or feel that sex during pregnancy may be unsafe for you, speak to your doctor or midwife who can advise you on the best options for you and your partner.

You Don’t Have to Do It:

Pregnant Couple Intimate

Between sore breasts, your growing belly, nausea, frequent urination and general fatigue, it’s not uncommon to feel disinterested in sex. And that is okay! Your body is undergoing so many physical and hormonal changes and it’s perfectly okay to forego sexual activity when you’re not feeling up to it. 

Communicate your needs to your partner and allow them to do the same. Find alternatives to sex such as kissing, cuddling or massage. There are many ways to connect that don’t involve sex if you are not physically or emotionally up for it during pregnancy. 

When to Call Your Doctor or Midwife:

Although some cramping and spotting after sex during pregnancy can be normal, excessive bleeding or painful cramping may be cause for concern. Call your doctor or midwife or go to the ER if you are experiencing heavy vaginal bleeding, severe cramping or you are leaking amniotic fluid. Medical attention may be required. 

For questions about sex during pregnancy, natural birth, prenatal or postnatal care or other women’s services, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife and for a tour of our Birth Center.