Sex During Pregnancy: What You Should Know About the Big O and Birth

Sex During Pregnancy

When you’re pregnant, your belly may grow more prominent, but your desire for sex could diminish, given the myths and misconceptions that permeate. Openly talking about sex with your spouse/partner can help you to enjoy intimacy safely during pregnancy. So, do understand that while many people think sex during pregnancy can harm the birth process, it’s not true. If you take the right precautions, there’s absolutely no reason why you cannot have sex during pregnancy.

Is Sex During Pregnancy Safe?

At the time of a typical and straightforward pregnancy, sex cannot harm your unborn baby. Remember that pregnant women have strong uterus muscles, cervical mucus, and the amniotic fluid which protects babies. Some people believe orgasms or sex during pregnancy could injure your unborn child, increasing the chances of a premature infant or even a miscarriage(1). But the truth is quite the reverse.

Vaginal sex at the time of pregnancy does not raise the risk for pre-term birth. Sexual intercourse at the time of pregnancy is not linked to an increased risk of premature labor either. But do check with your doctor, because if your medical practitioner believes it can risk your pregnancy, he will recommend you avoid sex during this period.

Also, note that Braxton Hicks is a mild contraction felt at the close of pregnancy. However, as such contractions do not indicate or initiate labor, one need not worry about them.

Tips for Safe Sex

When a pregnant woman is lying on the back, the baby’s additional weight puts pressure on her arteries and inner organs. For comfortable positions, it is recommended by doctors for women to take a sexual position on top of the partner or lie down side by side.

1. Opt for Safe Sex

Sex is a healthy and critical part of a loving and trusting relationship with your spouse/partner. For women, safe sex during pregnancy can be ensured if you take the right precautions. Consult and talk to your healthcare practitioner about this.

[Read: Benefits of Sex]

2. Take All the Precautions If you Have Complications

Sex is not safe at the time of pregnancy if you have had or are having complications. Check with your doctor about sex during pregnancy if you have complications such as multiple pregnancies, you had a past miscarriage or a risk of miscarriage, (this is when the baby dies in the womb before pregnancy of fewer than 20 weeks) or preterm labor/premature baby. A premature baby is born early, before 37 weeks into the pregnancy or less; Preterm labor is when labor starts before 37 weeks of pregnancy.

Check if you have an incompetent cervix. This occurs when the cervix opens early during pregnancy. The cervical opening to the womb(uterus) sits atop the vagina. An incompetent cervix triggers preterm labor.

Another possible complication is placenta previa when the placenta is below the uterus and covers different parts of the cervix. The condition causes complications like severe bleeding later in the pregnancy.

3. Protect Your Unborn Baby

While sex does not hurt the growing fetus, the muscles of the amniotic fluid, and the uterus surrounding the baby offer protection, another essential fact to know is about the mucous plug. The mucous plug keeps the baby safe from infection.

The plug is a mass of mucus(2) that blocks the cervical opening. If the partner is male, the penis does not harm the fetus during sex. While sex is safe for women, you do want to protect your baby from infections during pregnancy intercourse.

The first and most crucial step you need to take is to protect yourself from STIs (sexually transmitted infections/diseases). STIs are infections from intimate physical contact or unprotected sex with infected partners. It can be a problem for the fetus during pregnancy and the infant during childbirth. STI from the vaginal, oral, or anal sex can harm your child. To avoid having sex with a partner with multiple sex partners or the possibility of an STI.

If you have oral sex, do not introduce air bubbles into the vagina through any action that triggers an air embolism. This can harm your unborn child.

Ask your doctor about anal sex, if you are unsure about this form of sexual contact. Anal sex could be unsafe during pregnancy because the anus has bacteria. These are tiny organisms that can infect your vagina.

If you have pain during sex, heavy bleeding, amniotic sac leakage, or painful cramps, contact your doctor immediately.

[Read: STDS in Women]

4. Be Aware Of Your Sex Drive

Sex Drive
Image: shutterstock

Your interest in sex or sex drives transitions during pregnancy. Falling and rising hormonal levels and other bodily changes can affect the sex drive. Frequent sex drive changes experienced during pregnancy are as follows.

During the first trimester, fluctuating hormone levels and changes in the body’s shape could put you in the mood for sex. But changes during pregnancy that cause discomfort can dampen the sex drive. This ranges from morning sickness to sore breasts, frequent urges to urinate and tiredness or illness.

At the time of the second trimester, the discomfort experienced during the first three months may be over. Or you may get better at managing it. Yet do remember to be comfortable physically, while having sex.

Women gain a total of three pounds of blood at the time of pregnancy — most of the blood flow below the waist. Extra blood flow helps the orgasm more easily. Orgasm can, however, cause vaginal contractions.

Towards the third trimester or the end of pregnancy, you may feel a waning interest in sex. As the belly increases in size, some sexual positions may be uncomfortable. You may even lack interest in sex. It’s okay to have such feelings. Always be alert about psychological factors while engaging in sex during pregnancy.

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[Read: Essential Oils For Sex]

5. Check Which Sex Position Works Best for You

Positions that work before pregnancy and early on could be uncomfortable or unsafe during later pregnancy stages. For example, the missionary position or lying flat on the back after the fourth month can place pressure on blood vessels and harm your fetus. So, try other postures like a woman on top, spooning, or trying sex on your hands and knees.

Remember that you need not have sex to feel intimacy. You can also express affection through kissing, cuddling, massage, mutual orgasms, or even oral sex.

6. Be Open About Communication

Stay connected with your partner and talk about your needs in an open, loving manner. Let comfort and ease of being private remain firm. If something does not feel right, talk to your partner, or opt for couples counseling.

[Read: Vaginal Discharge During Pregnancy]

When to Avoid Sex During Pregnancy?

The doctor may recommend avoidance of sexual intercourse for women giving birth to twins, triplets, or multiple births. They can also advise against sex during pregnancy if cervical problems raise the problem of miscarriage and premature birth/preterm labor.

Other conditions that trigger complications and ensure sex during pregnancy are prohibited include placenta previa, preterm or miscarriage history or risk, cervical dysfunction, excessive bleeding/blood loss from the vagina.

Also, amniotic fluid leak or breaking water increase the risk of infection and so, sex should be avoided in such cases. Women should also have partners use condoms or dental dams during pregnancy to protect the developing fetus from infection.

How Pregnancy Influences Your Sex Drive?

There’s no one typical response when it comes to pregnancy affecting the sex drive of people in different ways. Improved hormonal levels and blood circulation can raise sex drive during the middle of pregnancy.

Most women experience decreased libido on account of increased discomfort and physical pain. Reduced energy levels, hormonal fluctuations, and flagging energy levels can also lower sex drive. Sexual desire during pregnancy can be impacted by changing bodily shape, too.

Sex is a big question mark for women with pregnancy complications. Only your doctor can answer the queries regarding safe sex during intercourse. While this article offers some critical advice based on expert opinions, be sure to consult your doctor before taking any step towards physical intimacy with your partner/spouse following your pregnancy.

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