Everything to Know About Sex While She’s Pregnant
Most people have a pretty good idea of the role sex plays in creating a pregnancy.
But what happens to a couple’s sex life after the pregnancy has begun? That’s a subject that’s a little less widely understood — but still pretty important. After all, getting someone pregnant only takes a second, but being pregnant takes nine months, which is a non-trivial span of time when it comes to a couple’s sex life.
To help clarify things, and to ensure the health and happiness of your partner and the well-being of the fetus in question, we spoke to a wealth of sexperts, doctors and assorted people in the know to bring you the skinny on pregnant sex — as well as five (illustrated!) sex positions to keep things hot for the next few months.
Things to Know About Pregnant Sex
1. It’s Safe to Have Sex During a Pregnancy
To start with, by and large, yes, it’s safe to have sex with a pregnant woman.
“If the woman has no restrictions to having sex, penetration will not hurt the baby,” says OB/GYN Dr. Kameelah Phillips. “Guys often feel like they are hitting the baby’s head and this just is not the case.”
Lakeisha Richardson, MD, OB/GYN at Delta Medical Group Women’s Healthcare Clinic in Greenville, MS, agrees.
“Sexual intercourse during pregnancy is perfectly safe,” says Richardson. “Actually, pregnant moms are usually extremely horny during the second trimester.” That is, once the morning sickness has ended and before the uncomfortable weight gain, of course.
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So go ahead and explore those basic human desires during the nine-month duration or pregnancy, says Dr. Yves Dole of Maryland-based clinic Mercy Medical Center. “Generally,” he says, “the baby is safe and protected by a closed cervical canal filled with mucus, as well as an amniotic fluid, sealed within a membrane.”
In short, you’re not going to affect the pregnancy by having sex — even if you have a large penis — so stop your worrying.
2. You Should Still Check With a Doctor First
What you should worry about are a handful of health issues that might turn perfectly normal and healthy pregnancy sex into a potential health hazard for the baby.
“Sexual activity should be safe at any point in a woman’s pregnancy unless there are certain complications such as preterm labor, cervical incompetence, first-trimester bleeding or threatened miscarriage, placenta previa or any condition requiring bed rest,” says Brian Salmon, co-author of the recently released book, “The Birth Guy’s Go-To Guide for New Dads: How to Support Your Partner Through Pregnancy, Birth & Breastfeeding.”
There are only a few cases when women cannot have intercourse during pregnancy, adds Richardson. “Pregnant women should refrain from any sexual intercourse if they have a cerclage, history of preterm labor or bleeding in pregnancy, or if they have a placenta previa.”
Your best bet is to play it safe and check with the professionals, suggests Salmon. “If you or Mom have any concerns about whether sex is safe for the pregnancy, do not hesitate to ask your medical provider,” he says.
Dole agrees, adding that “women should always consult with their obstetrical provider and discuss any potential conditions that may make sex more risky to the pregnancy.”
3. Using Protection Is Still Something to Consider
Considering there’s no danger of an unwanted pregnancy once she’s already pregnant — no, you can’t impregnate someone who’s already pregnant — you might be thinking that you have the all-clear to ditch condoms and have wild, unprotected sex.
And the answer is yes — sort of.
“With an established pregnancy, some couples may decide to ditch the protection, but it’s also important to remember that sexually transmitted infections can still be acquired from unprotected intercourse,” says Dole.
If you’ve been sexually intimate with anyone else — for any reason and in any capacity — it’s possible that you’ve contracted a sexually transmitted infection. So get tested first, and until you’re sure that you’re 100 percent infection-free, you should use condoms.
Dole also cautions that now might not be the best time to try out anal sex. “The risk of infection also increases with anal sex and worsens if vaginal sex follows, as microbes not native to the vagina will pose a great danger,” he warns.
4. Communication Is Important
Hopefully, you and your partner have done a fair amount of communicating thus far — after all, if you’re intending to raise a child together, you’ll want to have a sturdy foundation of open and honest communication to base that relationship on going forward.
But just because you’re good at, say, planning what to have for dinner or choosing which movie to watch together doesn’t mean you can rest on your laurels when it comes to having pregnant sex.
“The most important thing a guy should remember about sex with a pregnant partner is to talk,” says Megan Davies, a childbirth educator based in Edmonton. “It might be a little awkward and it’s not the most scintillating sex advice, but keeping the lines of communication open will help him understand how his partner is feeling, and will help both partners after the birth as well, when some couples struggle with intimacy.”
In short, the next few months could be challenging in some ways, and being able to talk frankly about your sex life — and to make sure that your partner feels good about it — is super important.
“During pregnancy, a woman’s desire for sex can be affected by things like her energy levels (moms are usually very tired in the first few months of pregnancy and then more energetic in the second trimester), if she is feeling sick, and how she feels about her changing body,” adds Davies. “Keep up the communication, remind her she is beautiful, and be supportive of how she is feeling.”
5. Not All Trimesters Are Created Equal
If you’ve been reading closely, by now you might be aware that the second trimester — weeks 14 through 26 of the expected 39-week pregnancy duration — is the “sexiest” one. That’s largely due to hormonal changes that your partner is going through.
“If your partner is already pregnant, be aware that their desire for intimacy can fluctuate significantly through each trimester,” says Kaylyn Easton, CEO and founder of Chiavaye, a vegan lubricant company. “The first trimester often creates a very low libido while the second trimester can be [extremely] different, with some women reporting high sexual desire and very intense orgasms.”
Kirsten Brunner, MA, LPC and co-author of “The Birth Guy’s Go-To Guide for New Dads: How to Support Your Partner Through Pregnancy, Birth & Breastfeeding” with Salmon says that “the majority of women prefer second trimester sex.”
“They often feel like crap during the first trimester because their hormones are really revving up in order to establish the pregnancy. In addition, they tend to be more anxious, because the pregnancy is not fully established and they can’t see their growing baby [yet],” she adds.
So what happens during that famed second trimester? Well, some of it might be a simple rebound from 13 relatively unsexy weeks, but changing hormones within her body also play a role.
“Pregnancy can also increase estrogen and progesterone during the second trimester, which may result in increased sex drive,” says Pill Club’s pharmacist, Christine Yu, Pharm.D.
And not only is there an increased desire for sex for many women during the second trimester, the sex itself can actually be more fun, according to Salmon.
“For some women, sex during pregnancy will be more pleasurable than ever,” he says.
“Increased blood flow to the uterus can make the pregnant orgasm far more intense and pleasurable.”
However, it’s important to note that the second trimester won’t necessarily be a giant sex-fest for every couple.
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“Other women might find sex less comfortable or enjoyable,” adds Salmon. “The hormone prolactin might decrease Mom’s libido. Body image concerns, fatigue or morning sickness can impact Mom’s sexual appetite. And of course, she might feel discomfort with her changing body.”
By the third trimester that hormone-fueled burst from the second trimester tapers off, and the increasing size of the fetus starts to make physical activity — like strenuous sex — pretty difficult.
“In the third trimester, moms often feel uncomfortable and big,” says Salmon. They usually aren’t sleeping as well and they often have heartburn, so they might not feel too sexy, he adds.
6. You Should Consider Non-Penetrative Sex
Regardless of which trimester you’re in, it wouldn’t hurt to consider shifting the nature of your sex life from one that’s focused purely on penetration to one that incorporates non-penetrative acts — things like oral sex, manual stimulation of the clitoris and focusing on nipples and other secondary erogenous zones.
During the later stages of a pregnancy, a woman can easily have an extra liter of blood circulating in her veins, says Dr. Jacqueline Darna, CEO of NoMo Nausea.
In sex terms, that means the clitoris is engorged “so if you want to get her stimulated quickly, play with her hood,” she says.
If mom is experiencing anxiety about the safety of her baby, she might opt for external stimulation (vs. internal stimulation) more than she did in the past, adds Brunner. “I really encourage the dads/partners I am working with to follow mom’s lead, more than ever,” she says “Each pregnancy is different, and each mom is different. She might not know how she is going to feel about sex and penetration until she is deep in the throes of her pregnancy and experiencing all of the hormones and range of emotions.”
Luckily, your external stimulation efforts will likely have more of an impact than usual, according to Caleb Backe of Maple Holistics.
“Most pregnant women report some degree of increased nipple and breast sensitivity,” says Backe. “This can either mean they will love some extra attention and stimulation to their breasts or that any pressure or touch can be painful. Be sure to communicate with your pregnant partner in order to have the most pleasurable experience possible.”
7. Being Demanding Is a Dick Move
It might be frustrating for you — late in the first trimester, or late in the third trimester, for instance — that your sex life has taken a serious backseat to the pregnancy itself.
But as exhausting as it might feel to you to watch the sexual intimacy dwindle from your relationship, you should do your absolute best not to make your partner feel guilty about it.
“In my counseling with pregnant women, I see a wide range in attitudes toward sex and intimacy,” says Brunner. “Some women feel quite sexy and empowered by their pregnancy, and crave sexual interaction more than ever.”
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More frequently, however, her clients report feeling anxious. “A mama bear instinct has kicked in, and they feel protective of the growing baby in their stomach, so these moms often notice a decrease in their sexual desire,” she says. “Low energy and even depression are things that I see in pregnancy, which can obviously affect libido and desire.”
Even women who had a high sexual appetite prior to getting pregnant, might find that she has zero desire throughout pregnancy, she adds. Considering that she’s using her actual body to physically produce a child, cut her some slack and be content with masturbating a bit more rather than taking your sexual frustration out on her.
8. Her Body Will Be Changing
The list of changes a woman’s body goes through during pregnancy is so lengthy, it almost feels easier to list the things that won’t change. You have to expect that he’ll look different, feel different, and respond differently to your touch, among other changes.
Apart from the fetus growing inside your partner causing her abdomen to swell, a number of other changes could impact your sex life.
For one, “some women will experience spotting or bleeding after sex,” says Salmon. “This is due to the cervix being soft. Just keep your healthcare provider up to date.”
Then, there’s the issue of her vaginal secretions. “Pregnancy can sometimes cause vaginal dryness,” says Richardson. “It is safe to use a fertility-friendly lubricant such as Pre-Seed during pregnancy, because it is non-hormonal and safe in pregnancy.”
However, Backe notes that at times, you might see the inverse — increased lubrication.
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“Because of the increased blood flow to the genitals and hormonal changes of pregnancy, many women experience heightened orgasms and increased vaginal lubrication,” says Backe. If you do need a lubricant, stick to a water-based option and avoid anything with chemicals such as glycerin and fragrances.
9. Sex Can Actually Induce Labor
Remember how your penis can’t actually reach the baby? As much as that’s true, it doesn’t mean that penetrating your partner won’t have any effects. In fact, as it turns out, penetrative sex can actually help induce labor.
“Semen has a high concentration of prostaglandins, which can help get the cervix ready to change for labor in addition to increasing uterine tone for labor,” says Salmon. “There may also be some mechanical effects of the penis to the cervix during intercourse that stimulate contractions and resultant labor. Oxytocin is also released during orgasm and nipple stimulation, and oxytocin (the feel-good hormone) is a key ingredient to labor initiation.”
So if she’s nearing her due date and still raring to go, you might want to stick to foreplay, lest you have to interrupt your lovemaking with a trip to the obstetrics ward of the nearest hospital.
Pregnant Woman Sex Positions
Now that you know some of the basics about pregnant sex, it’s time to talk positioning.
The first thing you should note is that all the things you used to know about sex positions can likely be thrown out the window during pregnancy.
“Comfortable and pleasurable positions during sex will change throughout the pregnancy,” notes Easton. “What worked or felt good prior may not be the same now. Communication between partners is extremely important, especially as her body changes and hormone levels shift. Don’t be afraid to ask her lots of questions through each trimester, as it’s a unique experience for every woman.”
Why all the changes? Well, basically, her body’s changing in a big way.
“During pregnancy, a woman’s cardiovascular status changes,” notes Phillips. “[A woman’s partner] has to understand that she may not be able to assume certain positions (lying on her back) for very long, as she may become short of breath. This is a time to get creative with positions that keep the mom upright and comfortable.”
So what do those positions look like, exactly? Well, here are five to get you started:
“She stands facing the wall with her legs spread and her hands against the wall above her head,” says Jess O’Reilly, Ph.D., host of the “@SexWithDrJess” podcast. “She bends at the hip to accommodate her belly if necessary. Her partner stands behind her and slides inside.”
“She lies on her left side, supported by pillows beneath her knees or hips, as needed,” says O’Reilly. “Her partner lies behind her so they both can enjoy the benefits of full-body contact.”
3. Legs Up
“She lies on her back with several pillows (or a wedge pillow) beneath her hips.. Her partner kneels between her thighs and lifts her legs up slightly as they slide in from below.
4. Reverse Rider
“She rides her partner facing their feet,” says O’Reilly. “She can control the depth of penetration, speed and angle.”
5. Hips Up
“She lies on her back with her legs hanging off the side of the bed,” says O’Reilly. “Her partner stands on the floor between her legs.”