Pregnancy is a wonderful time for you and your partner as you celebrate all of the amazing changes in your growing body. But for many couples, fears and superstitions about sex during pregnancy hold them back from sharing the ultimate physical expression of joy. Is sex during pregnancy really safe, and what can couples do to make sure that there is no harm done to the baby?
The truth is that for most normal situations there is nothing inherently harmful about sex during pregnancy. Your baby is protected by the sac of amniotic fluid surrounding him or her, and the mucous plug that seals your cervix helps guard against infection in the womb.
Of course, you should always check with your doctor at the beginning of your pregnancy to make sure that sex is safe for you. Doctors will advise against sex for women in certain high-risk categories, such as if you have a history of miscarriage, if you have an incompetent cervix, if you are having unexplained bleeding, or if you or your partner has a sexually transmitted disease.
But if your doctor gives you the green light, you and your partner should be free to continue your sex life throughout pregnancy. The key is communication about how you feel and what kind of adjustments and accommodations you need to adapt to your new circumstances.
One factor that may change your relationship is your sex drive. Some women find that pregnancy increases their sex drive, while others find their desires diminished by exhaustion, sickness, or discomfort. At certain points in your pregnancy you may find yourself on opposite ends of the spectrum from your partner; for example, you might feel “blah” even though your partner is in the mood. That’s when it helps to experiment with other ways to stimulate each other that do not involve intercourse. You can also try some simple soothing activities that will make you both feel good: a foot rub, a gentle massage, a warm shower.
Some women also find that the most common positions during sex – especially the missionary position with the man on top – are now uncomfortable. Pregnancy can be a good time to learn about and experiment with new positions that can better accommodate a woman’s growing belly.
Many couples also worry that a woman’s orgasm can be harmful to the baby. However, in normal circumstances, an orgasm should not harm the baby at all. In fact, the baby may get a rush of good feelings from the hormones pulsing through your body. You will probably feel your uterus contract with the orgasm, but it should not be a concern unless the contractions are painful or last for more than an hour.
If you go past your due date, you may also hear that sex is one way to induce labor. The hormones released during sex should cause your uterus to contract, the theory goes, and chemicals in the sperm will soften your cervix. Experts disagree about whether intercourse can really start labor – but if you’re late enough and if you’re willing, you might as well give it a try and enjoy it while you can.
After you deliver your baby, your body will need some time to rest and your hormones will need to adjust before you resume your “regular” sex life. But once your body gets back into the swing of things and you have your doctor’s OK, you and your partner will be able to enjoy each other again – and perhaps even more so, now that you’ve shared this incredible experience together.