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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.