For lots of couples, a positive pregnancy test can suddenly shift the focus from conception to the baby itself. Your sex life needn’t take a breather for the next nine months. In fact, the milestone of baby-making can be a fun call to action to increase intimacy and sexual connectedness. A healthy satisfying sex life can actually be good for pregnancy. It helps bond couples, increases happiness, and makes you feel closer to your partner.
We’re all familiar with the stereotypical symptoms a woman can experience during pregnancy—larger breasts, wider hips, stretch marks, morning sickness. But pregnancy is so much more than that. Everyone is different, and what you experience in terms of desire and libido may not be the same as what your sister or best friend feels during her pregnancy. There are, however, some typical patterns in the ways that pregnancy can affect sexuality:
Libido. Although hormones and increased blood flow to the pelvis certainly play a role, the urge to merge when you’re pregnant can be very individual. In general, though, libido tends to wane during the first trimester, when pregnancy symptoms can interfere with feeling sexy. Your sex drive can rise once these symptoms ebb, only to fall again during the final months of pregnancy. It’s important to let your partner know what’s going on with your sex drive throughout pregnancy.
Lubrication. As hormonal levels change, you may find that things aren’t as wet “down there” as they once were. In your second semester, lubrication can actually increase, which some women find boosts their desire for sex.
Orgasms. Increased blood flow and sensitivity in the genitals may mean that your orgasms are more intense and pleasurable than ever before. In fact, some women experience the first orgasm of their lives—or multiple orgasms—during the second trimester of pregnancy.
You may never feel more feminine, strong, or sexual than you do now. Many women love their pregnancy curves and discover a new sense of self-esteem. Rosier skin, healthier hair, and full, voluptuous breasts are just a few of the sexier physical changes of pregnancy. The increased blood flow to your genitals may make you feel as though you are in a constant state of arousal.
How you feel about your body can change, not just from trimester to trimester, but from week to week and even day to day. Learn to love your pregnant body by engaging in physical activities like yoga, wearing sexy maternity clothes and lingerie, getting a massage, or talking with a therapist.
Because pregnancy’s changes are most obvious in a woman—it’s happening in her body, after all—we often forget how this life-altering experience can affect expectant dads. Lots of men still find their pregnant partners attractive—some are even more turned on.
Still, any number of issues and concerns can dampen a guy’s desire. Some of the most typical:
Communication is critical during pregnancy. Talk to him about your feelings and encourage him to talk about his as well. Keeping the lines open to discuss all of the intimate details of your sex life is important now, and for the rest of your lives together.
This is probably the biggest fear that couples have about making love during pregnancy. Specifically, men worry that they might hit the baby in the head with their penis. Sure, sex isn’t advisable in some situations—particularly if you have a high-risk pregnancy—but that doesn’t have anything to do with bumping the baby.
The good news? Sex is perfectly safe for most couples. Your developing baby is shielded by the strong muscles of the uterus, as well as by the amniotic sac and fluid. The thick mucus plug that blocks the cervix during pregnancy adds another layer of protection. And a penis isn’t large enough to do any damage.
Intercourse and orgasms can trigger premature labor. Again, if you have a high-risk pregnancy or a history of premature labor, it’s best to abstain from sex. Otherwise, intercourse is safe for pregnant couples. And the orgasms of pregnancy may be some of your most intense. But don’t worry that climaxing will lead to early labor or a miscarriage. Although some research suggests that orgasmic contractions may trigger labor, newer studies have found that climaxing during intercourse has no effect on childbirth and may even protect against premature delivery.
Pregnant sex means uncomfortable sex. Okay, so the idea of awkward missionary-style sex with a big baby bump between you probably isn’t going to send you into a swoon of pleasure. The first trimester may be filled with nausea, fatigue, and other unpleasant physical sensations that hardly put you in the mood. And you may just feel too large to make love during your last few months. If you’re just not interested, that’s okay. But if you are, the right positions, lubrication, and other adjustments can help you enjoy comfortable—even mind-blowing—sex throughout your pregnancy.
While you can usually enjoy intercourse all the way up until your due date, some positions are more comfortable than others. In general, any position that puts pressure on the woman’s back or stomach can be tough: Not only can her baby bump get in the way, but after the fourth month, lying on her back can cause her growing uterus to put pressure on major blood vessels in her body. Instead try these positions and experiment to see what feels right for both of you:
For most couples, intercourse and other sexual activities are safe all the way up until your water breaks. There are cases, though, where your physician, nurse, or midwife may recommend that you abstain from intercourse and/or orgasm. When placed on sex restrictions, it’s important to ask whether you can have intercourse, orgasm through other means like oral sex or masturbation, or neither. These restrictions include:
If you aren’t in any of these categories but experience bleeding, pain, or cramping just after intercourse or orgasm that doesn’t disappear after a few minutes, call your healthcare practitioner.