Menu

Your complete guide to sex during pregnancy

What to expect during pregnancy and how you can make sex more comfortable (and also completely amazing). 

sex-during-pregnancy

So we know pregnancy and hot, hot sex may not be synonymous in your book—but pregnancy doesn't have to mean nine months of abstinence (unless you've been told otherwise by your doctor or midwife). Everyone is different, but there are some typical patterns you can expect.

Here's what the experts at Good in Bed have to say about sex during pregnancy. With a name like that, we couldn't trust them more.

When it comes to sex during pregnancy, here's what you can expect:

Sex drive during pregnancy

Although hormones and increased blood flow to the pelvis play a role, sex drive during pregnancy is pretty individual. In general, you can expect libido to wane during the first trimester (you know, morning sickness and all), rise when these symptoms ebb, and likely fall again during the final months of pregnancy.

Lubrication during pregnancy

As hormonal levels change, you may find that vaginal tissue is dryer than usual. Investing in a good lubrication is key for comfort and enjoyment. In your second semester, lubrication can actually increase, which some women find boosts their desire for sex.

Orgasms during pregnancy

Increased blood flow and sensitivity in the genitals may mean that your orgasms are more intense and pleasurable than ever before. Some women experience the first orgasm of their lives—or multiple orgasms—during the second trimester of pregnancy. Go get it on, mama.

Feeling sexy during pregnancy

You may never feel more feminine, strong or sensual than you do now. Many women love their pregnancy curves and discover a new sense of self-esteem.

Rosier skin, healthier hair and full 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.

How you partner feels about sex during pregnancy

Obviously, the changes that pregnancy brings are huge for pregnant women. A side effect of that is that we can forget about our partners. Let's be real—most people LOVE their pregnant partners. And some are even more turned on by all the new curves. But of course, there will be times when they aren't in the mood. Remember, it's not you, it's them.

Here are a few reasons your partner might not be that into it:

  • They're worried they'll hurt the baby
  • They're stressed about money
  • They're being polite and doesn't want to pressure you
  • They're jealous of the attention you're getting
  • They're scared of change
  • They're freaked out by parenthood

So, what should you do?

Talk about it. Things are changing for both of you, so encourage them to open up about their feelings and be open about yours as well. Keeping the lines open to discuss all the intimate details of your sex life is important now, and for the rest of your lives together.

Frequently-asked pregnancy sex questions

There is a lot of mystery when it comes to sex during pregnancy. But remember, the only one who can accurately give you information about your specific body and pregnancy is your doctor or midwife, so e sure to check with them first.

1. Can sex during pregnancy hurt the baby?

This is probably the biggest fear that couples have about making love during pregnancy. Specifically, if you are having sex with a man, he might worry that he'll hit the baby in the head with his penis.

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 (sorry, guys).

The verdict? Sex is safe for most couples.

2. Can sex and orgasms during pregnancy trigger premature labor?

Again, if you have a high-risk pregnancy or a history of premature labor, it's best to talk with your healthcare provider about this. Otherwise, intercourse is generally considered safe for pregnant couples.

So try not to 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.

Fun fact: Orgasms during pregnancy may be some of your most intense. (Where do we sign up?)

3. Is pregnant sex always uncomfortable?

Okay, so the idea of awkward missionary-style sex with a big baby bump between you two probably isn't going to send you swooning with 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 feel too uncomfortable to make love during your last few months. If you're just not interested, that's okay.

But if you're feeling sexy, the right positions, lubrication and other adjustments can help you enjoy comfortable, even mind-blowing, sex throughout your pregnancy. Read on if you're intrigued.

What are the best pregnancy sex positions?

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 your back or stomach can be tough. Not only can your baby bump get in the way, but after the fourth month, lying on your back can cause your growing uterus to put pressure on major blood vessels in your body.

Try these positions + find what works for both of you:

You on top

In this position, your partner lies on their back while you straddle them. It takes the pressure off her back and belly, allows you to control the depth and speed of thrusting—and gives them a great view! This position is great in the first and second trimesters. The increased weight and size of your belly may make it difficult to maneuver in the last trimester.

Sitting

A variation of you on top, this position involves your partner sitting in an armless chair, with you facing and straddling them. It is extremely intimate and allows you to gaze into each other's eyes. This position is best during the first and second trimesters.

Side-by-side

You both lie on your side, facing each other. This position also keeps the weight off your belly, supports the uterus and may also make you feel particularly intimate. Enjoy it during the first trimester and early second trimester.

Spooning

The same position that allows for such good post-sex cuddle is also great for intercourse during pregnancy. The partner lies on their side behind you, facing your back. This takes the pressure off your belly and prevents deep penetration, which may be uncomfortable later in pregnancy. This position is perfect during the last trimester.

Hands and knees

Also known as rear entry or “doggy style," this position places you on your hands and knees with her partner behind her. Place a few pillows under your belly and breasts to help support them. Try it during the first, second and early third trimesters. Because this position can result in deeper penetration, you may want to avoid it later in the third trimester.

Modified missionary

You lie on your back, pull your knees up to your chest and rest your feet on your partner's chest (or, if you're really flexible, on their shoulders). They do not place their weight on your body.

When is sex considered unsafe during pregnancy?

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 or orgasms.

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.

Restrictions may include:

  • A history of preterm labor (delivering a baby earlier than 37 weeks)
  • A history of miscarriage
  • Signs of preterm labor, such as premature uterine contractions
  • Unexplained vaginal discharge, bleeding or cramping
  • Leakage of amniotic fluid
  • Incompetent cervix (a condition in which the cervix dilates prematurely, raising the risk for preterm delivery or miscarriage)
  • Placenta previa (a condition in which the placenta covers the cervix)
  • Multiple fetuses, such as twins, triplets, etc.

If you aren't in any of these categories but experience bleeding, pain or cramping just after intercourse, or if orgasm that doesn't disappear after a few minutes, call your health care practitioner.

A version of this article was originally published on Good in Bed.

You might also like:

My village lives far away—but my Target baby registry helped them support me from afar

Virtual support was the next best thing to in-person hugs

They say you shouldn't make too many major life transitions at once. But when I was becoming a mama for the first time nearly five years ago, my husband and I also moved to a new town where we didn't know a soul, bought our first house and changed jobs.

To put it mildly, we didn't heed that advice. Luckily, our family and friends still made it feel like such a magical time for us by supporting our every move (literal and otherwise) from afar. They showered us with love through a virtual baby shower (expectant parents nowadays can relate!) featuring the unwrapping of gifts they were able to ship straight to me from my Target registry.

Here's one piece of advice I did take: I registered at Target so I could take advantage of the retailer's benefits for registrants, which include a welcome kit valued over $100, a universal registry function and more. Fast-forward a few years and Target has made the registration perks even better for expectant parents: As of August 2020, they've added a Year of Exclusive Deals, which gives users who also sign up for Target Circle a full year of savings after baby is born on all those new mama essentials, from formula to diapers and beyond.

Honestly, even without the significant perks of a free welcome kit with more than $100 in coupons, additional 15% off coupons to complete the registry and a full year of free returns, registering at Target wasn't a hard sell for me: Even though the experience of shopping for baby items was new, shopping with Target felt like returning home to me… and the comfort of that was such a gift.

And of course, Target's registry plays a vital role right now, as expectant parents everywhere are being forced to cancel in-person baby showers and navigate early parenthood without the help of a hands-on village. A registry like this represents a safe way for communities to come through for new parents. If you're anything like me (or any of the other mamas here at Motherly), you certainly have emotional ties and fond memories associated with Target.

What to register for at Target was also an easy talking point as I began to connect with moms in my new community. I will always remember going on a registry-building spree with my next door neighbor, who had young children of her own. As we walked the aisles of Target back in 2015, she suggested items to add… and we laid the foundation for what has since become one of my most cherished friendships.

Even as I made connections in my new hometown, I was nervous that expecting my first baby wouldn't feel as special as if I were near family and friends. But my loved ones exceeded all expectations by adding the most thoughtful notes to gifts. They hosted a beautiful virtual baby shower and even encouraged me to keep the registry going after my baby made his debut and new needs arose.

In the years since, "community" has taken on a wonderfully complex new meaning for me… and, in these times of social distancing, for the rest of the world. I've come to cherish my newfound friends in our local community alongside those long-time friends who are scattered around the county and my virtual mama friends.

Now, as my friends' families grow, I'm so grateful that I can show them the same love and support I felt during my first pregnancy. I sing the praises of Target's baby registry—especially in light of the pandemic, since I know mamas can do everything from a distance thanks to Target's website and the added benefit of getting trusted reviews and helpful registry checklists.

And now that I'm on the gift-buying side of the equation, I've found new joy in picking thoughtful gifts for my friends. (Because goodness knows Target has something for everyone!)

For my friend who is a fellow runner, I teamed up with a few others to give the jogging stroller she had on her registry.

For my friend who is a bookworm, I helped her start her baby's library with a few books that are also well-loved in our home.

For other friends, I've bundled together complete "sets" with everything they need for bathing or feeding their children.

I know from my own experience that, yes, the registry purchases are so appreciated, but the thoughtfulness and the support they represent means even more. Because although my village may have been distant, the support they showed me was the next best thing to in-person hugs.

Start your own Target Baby Registry here to experience a Year of Benefits including a Year of Exclusive Deals through Target Circle to enjoy for a full year following your baby's arrival, a year of free returns, two 15% off completion coupons and a free welcome kit ($100 value).

This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

9 products that will help baby sleep better (and longer!)

For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

How do I get my baby to sleep? This is one of the most commonly asked questions among new parents, and it makes sense, given that babies are born with their days and nights mixed up. For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

And while that might not exist (yet), we have found some of the best products out there that can help baby fall asleep faster and for longer durations. Because when baby is sleeping, so are you!

Dreamland Baby weighted sleep sack and swaddle

Designed by a mama, parents swear by this weighted sleep sack. It mimics your hug to give your baby security and comfort that helps them get to sleep faster and stay asleep longer. The detachable swaddle wing makes it easy to transition as they grow.

It's also super easy to get on and off, and includes a bottom-up zipper for late night changes, so you don't have to wake your baby in the process.

$79

Yogasleep Hushh portable sound machine

Yogasleep hushh sound machine

With three soothing options, this is a perfect solution to help your baby settle when naps are on the go and during travel! I love how compact this noise machine is and that it can run all night with one charge.

$30

Bebe au Lait muslin crib sheets

Burt's Bees Organic Crib Sheets

With a variety of print options to choose from, these breathable sheets are *so* soft and smooth, even through multiple washes. The luxury fabric keeps little ones warm without overheating—a formula that helps ensure more sleep for everyone.

$32

The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

You know what's going to help baby have their best sleep ever? Some quality, super soft pajamas. The timeless (and aptly named!) Perfect Pajama from The Simple Folk are some of our favorites. They last forever and they're made from organic pima cotton that is safe on baby's precious skin. They come in a wide range of sizes so siblings can match and feature fold-over hand covers on sizes up to 12 months.

$37

The Snoo bassinet

Snoo

Designed by expert pediatrician and sleep guru Dr. Harvey Karp, the Snoo bassinet gently rocks your baby to sleep while snuggled up in the built-in swaddle. Not only does it come with sensors that adjust the white noise and movement based on your baby's needs, there is also an app that allows you to adjust the settings directly from your phone.

While this item is a bit on the expensive side, there is now an option to rent for $3.50 a day, which is a total game changer!

$1295

Hatch Baby Rest sound machine + nightlight

best baby sound machine

The Hatch Baby Rest is a dual sound machine and nightlight that will grow with your family. Many parents use this product with their infants as a white-noise machine and then as a "time to rise" solution for toddlers.

The thing I love most about this product is that the light it gives off isn't too bright, and you can even select different color preferences; giving your toddler choices at bedtime.

$59.99

Crane humidifier

Crane Humidifier

The only thing worse than a sick baby is a baby who is sick and not sleeping well. The Crane humidifier helps take care of this by relieving congestion and helping your baby breathe better while sleeping.

Personally, I think the adorable design options alone are enough of a reason to purchase this product, and your child will love watching steam come out of the elephant's trunk!

$46.99

Naturepedic organic crib mattress

Naturpedic Lightweight Organic Mattress

In the first few months of life, babies can spend up to 17 hours a day sleeping, so choosing a mattress that is safe (read: no chemicals!) and comfortable is incredibly important.

Naturepedic uses allergen-friendly and waterproof materials with babies and children in mind, making them easy to clean and giving you peace of mind.

$259.00

Happiest Baby sleepea 5-second swaddle

best baby swaddle

There are baby swaddles and then there is Sleepea. Similar to the brand's swaddle that is built into the Snoo, the Sleepea is magic for multiple reasons. First, it's got mesh panels ensuring baby never overheats. Second, the zipper zips from the top or the bottom, so you can change the baby's diaper in the middle of the night without ever waking them. Third, it's hip safe. Fourth, the patterns are SO cute. And fifth, the interior swaddle wrap that keeps baby's ams down has a "quiet" velcro that won't wake baby if you need to readjust while they're asleep.

$27.95

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

Shop

Talking to kids can come so easily. They have thoughts about everything and stories for miles. They see the world in a completely different light, and could ask enough questions to fill an afternoon.

But sometimes finding the right words for talking to kids can be really, really challenging. When choosing how to respond to the marker on the wall, or the seemingly unending why-can't-I battle, or in simply keeping healthy communication open with kids who don't want to talk, the words don't seem to come so easily.

Keep reading Show less
Learn + Play