Everything you wanted to know about pregnancy sex but were afraid to ask.
Women all have different feelings about having sex while pregnant. Sex can be something that they embrace during pregnancy or something they can feel repulsed by – both feelings are normal! As a sex therapist, I hear all about the concerns, fears and curiosity women have about engaging in sex when pregnant. I have attempted to answers some of the common questions.
Is Sex Safe During Pregnancy?
A common concern many women and their partners have is whether they will hurt their baby if they have sex while they are pregnant. Many men and women avoid sex during pregnancy for this reason alone. Unless your doctor tells you otherwise (and it is always good to ask), it is perfectly all right to have sex while pregnant. Sex in an uncomplicated pregnancy is safe and will not hurt your baby. And no need to worry – the baby doesn’t feel anything either. So if you’re feeling up to it, then go for it!
If you have been classified as a high-risk pregnancy, it is advisable to get a medical opinion. Please also follow a doctor’s advice in the following cases:
- You have placenta previa (low lying placenta)
- You’ve experienced unexplained vaginal bleeding
- You have cervical incompetence or weakness
- Your waters have broken
- You are at risk of premature labour
Is Sexual Desire (or the lack of) Normal During Pregnancy?
Sexual desire and the ability to become aroused vary from woman to woman and vary throughout the pregnancy. You may find that you have zero desire and do not enjoy being sexual during pregnancy or you might feel quite a bit of desire and stay sexually active almost up until delivery. This variation is very normal! Some women also feel more attractive during pregnancy and want to be more intimate with their partners, whereas some feel uncomfortable in their own skin and don’t want to be touched by their partners.
Pregnancy conditions like nausea, vomiting and tiredness in the first trimester may also result in you feeling less desire for sex. However, many women notice that their sex drive increases in the second trimester. They may feel that they are able to adapt better physically and emotionally to their pregnancy by then. Late in pregnancy, with the baby bump getting larger, some women may be too physically uncomfortable for sex. They may be anxious about the impending labour or are just too tired for sex.
What Sexual Activity Is “Normal” During Pregnancy?
The reasons for variations in sexual activity and interest are complex. They can be influenced by the emotional responses to the pregnancy, how the woman is experiencing the changes to her body, and the internalised beliefs about sexual activity during pregnancy. If you are feeling different about sex during pregnancy, just recognise that it’s ok and normal. It’s also common to feel a different level of desire than your partner and important that you can both have your experiences without being angry or blaming one another.
What Positions Are Most Comfortable During Pregnancy?
While sex is safe for most couples in pregnancy, it may not be all that easy. You will probably need to find new or different positions that feel comfortable for you. Some positions will be more comfortable than others and at different stages. For example, sex with your partner on top – the missionary position – can become uncomfortable quite early in pregnancy because of your bump. Also, any position where your partner is going in too deeply might be painful.
This can be a time to explore and experiment together until you find something that works for both of you. Some other positions that may work well are:
Cowgirl: In this position, you are on top and straddle your partner. This protects your belly by keeping your weight off your abdomen and lets you control the depth of penetration. You can also straddle him while he sits on a chair.
Doggy-style: While you are kneeling on all fours your partner enters from behind and your belly is protected. You can also use a pillow under your belly for additional support.
Sitting at the end of the bed: Your partner can kneel or stand in front of you. Having your partner enter you from a sitting position manages to keep weight off your abdomen as well.
Spooning: This position where you’re laying on your side in front of your partner is easy and does not hurt your belly. If your energy level is low lying sideways in the spoon position is comfortable and doesn’t require too much stamina.
What Alternatives Are There To Intercourse?
Sexual intercourse is not the only way to convey affection and desire for your partner. There are various other activities such as hugging, kissing, massaging and oral sex. All of these activities are safe during pregnancy. Many couples tend to have more “above the waist” cuddling and caressing experiences during pregnancy, plus more mutual masturbation of each other, than actual intercourse.
Be open to a whole range of what is considered sexual intimacy. Intimacy comes on a spectrum. Between a back rub and full-blown, high-intensity hours of sex, there’s a whole lot in between. Couples can talk about what those things are that make them feel intimate and loving and make a list. Write down 10 things that make you feel are intimacy activities and be open to trying them out.
How Can Mindfulness Benefit Your Sex Life?
Some women may find that they’re spending too much time in their head worrying about sex or their changing physique and then have a difficult time feeling amorous in the bedroom. If this is you then it’s time to practice mindfulness.
Mindfulness is where you bring your complete and full attention to the present moment. You let go of worrying about the past or the future, along with expectations of what you “should” be feeling or looking like. Instead, you focus on what is happening right now. If your mind tries to jump into worry mode, give yourself a gentle nudge back to the present. You will find that you can’t be anxious if you are truly focused on the present moment. Tune in to all of your five senses to bring your energy into your body and out of your head. If you tune into all your bodily sensations when you are with your partner you will create a more rich and fulfilling sexual experience.