Pregnant sex. It’s that area of intimacy that’s a bit of an enigma, right?
Chances are, as a result, (whether you’re expecting or not) you’ve already asked yourself the questions of how pregnant sex works, whether it will hurt, if it can harm the baby and if there are any specific times when you really should not even play with trying it.
Enter Team WH and a host of experts with all the answers to your getting down while up the duff queries. Nine months is nine months, after all.
Pregnant sex: from safety to positions, your expert 101
Is Sex Safe During Pregnancy?
In a word: Yes.
Pregnant sex is completely safe – for you and your baby.
‘The penis cannot penetrate beyond the vagina,’ says Dr Virginia Beckett, consultant obstetrician and spokesperson for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. ‘Plus, the baby is protected from infection by the amniotic sac and a mucus plug, which seals the cervix.’
Like to use sex toys? That’s totally fine, too – just make sure they’re clean to eliminate any risk of infection.
That said, as you progress through the first, second and third trimester, and as your baby grows, deep penetration and sex in certain positions may feel less comfortable.
‘Try different positions to alleviate this such as side-by-side (spooning) or standing up,’ says Beckett. ‘Some women may also experience vaginal dryness during pregnancy, and this can be helped by using a water-based lubricant.’
When shouldn’t you have pregnant sex?
Although pregnant sex is mostly nothing to worry about, there are certain circumstances when you might want to rein your sexual antics right in.
- If you have had any bleeding
- If your waters have broken
- If there have been problems with the cervix
- If there is any history of preterm labour
- If you are at high risk of miscarriage
You might also be advised against getting down if you’re expecting twins or any sort of multiple births, as it may be best to not put extra pressure on your pelvis.
Talk with your midwife or obstetrician, if you are unsure or have any concerns.
It’s also important to remember that you (and your baby) are still exposed to STIs during pregnant sex so, if you or your partner is having sex with other people, while you’re pregnant, you’ll need to use condoms.
Is it normal to want to have sex while you’re pregnant?
Yes. And it’s equally normal not to want to have sex while you’re pregnant, too.
‘If you’re experiencing symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, fatigue, tender breasts and/or backaches, chances are sex isn’t going to be top of your mind,’ Beckett says.
Plus, there are hormonal changes are play, which may take any control you usually have over your libido, completely out of your hands.
‘As a general rule, most women find that their desire may ebb and flow during the course of pregnancy,’ says Liz Halliday, deputy head of midwifery at Private Midwives, a provider of private midwifery services.
‘Rising levels of hormones, including oestrogen and progesterone and HCG are the chief hormonal factors that influence your sex drive during pregnancy.
These hormones can be responsible for the pregnancy symptoms that might deter you from wishing to engage in sexual intimacy.
However, as the HCG levels even out in the first trimester, some of these symptoms might decline and your libido may return. And, high levels of progesterone can increase blood flow to the vulva, which might result in heightened sexual pleasure for you.’
Indeed, many women report feeling wetter and having more intense orgasms when pregnant. Get in.
Remember, though, that it’s not just your libido that might be affected during sex. Your partner’s, too, could experience highs and lows.
‘Partners may experience a fall in libido because of concerns about causing injury to the pregnancy or baby,’ says Beckett.
‘So, it’s important to openly discuss your feelings about pregnant sex, to reach an understanding of what feels right for your relationship.’
Pregnant sex positions to try tonight – for each trimester
1/ In your first trimester
‘You’ll unlikely need to change anything,’ says Halliday. ‘For the vast majority of your first trimester, your uterus is tucked underneath your pelvic bone and any bump you might have is due to bloating or early displacements of your organs.’
2/ In your second trimester
‘As the second trimester progresses, your bump will grow and after 24 weeks you might feel a little dizzy if you lie flat on your back for any amount of time,’ says Halliday. ‘Positions that involve this, therefore, might be something to avoid.
However, if you enjoy missionary position, you could put a wedge-shaped cushion under one hip to tilt slightly to the side, which will avoid compressing the blood vessels in your back.’
3/ In your third trimester
‘In the third trimester (or earlier for mums of twins), your bump will become quite large and this is the time that most women start to struggle with finding a comfortable position for sex,’ says Halliday.
‘Often a “spooning” position works well or going “on top” may be more comfortable.
The main thing is to keep experimenting, if you wish to engage in sexual activity, finding what works for you. Be open to changing position, as your bump grows.’
#disclaimer: Sexual intimacy should always be consensual so, if you find that you do not wish to have sex, you should consider talking to your partner, and midwife / doctor about your feelings and discussing alternative ways to be intimate.