Let’s talk about sex during pregnancy. There is so much you want and need to know. But, I also know that often expecting Mummas are too embarrassed to ask.
It’s completely normal to question everything when you’re pregnant. The last thing you want to do is something that could potentially put you or your baby at risk. Sex during pregnancy is no different. When I first found out that I was pregnant, it was something that Ross and I needed to talk about. If I’m entirely honest, even as a Midwife I felt a bit nervous about! That’s why I want to help answer all your questions and reassure you that even the “experts’’ can have the same worries.
OK, first thing is first…
Is it safe and OK to have sex when pregnant? In general, yes!
While there a few instances where it’s best to abstain from sex will pregnant (we’ll get to those soon), sex in pregnancy is safe and there are many reasons why it can actually be good for you too.
While you may think it sounds like a silly question, you’d be amazed at how many women and men worry that having sex during pregnancy may be bad for the baby or that it will induce pre-term labour. And let’s face it, it’s not something people talk about openly anyway– let alone when you are pregnant!
Before we get into all the fun stuff, let’s start with the potential reasons that sex during pregnancy may not be safe for you. There are times when your doctor or midwife may advise that you avoid having sex.
Reasons you may need to avoid sex during pregnancy include:
- If your membranes have ruptured or if you are leaking amniotic fluid.
- If you have any history of premature birth or preterm labour.
- Your cervix has started opening prematurely. This is what’s known as cervical insufficiency.
- You’ve experienced unexplained vaginal bleeding.
- You have placenta previa. This is when your placenta partly or completely covers your cervix.
- In some instances, if you’re pregnant with multiples (twins, triplets etc).
For most women who are healthy and have a low-risk pregnancy, you’ve got the green light to have sex. If you have any concerns just ask your healthcare provider. Remember they’ve heard it all before, so don’t be embarrassed.
Rule #1: Listen to your body.
Of course, when it comes to sex in pregnancy it goes without saying that it’s only if and when you feel like it. You may find that your sex drive is lower during the early stages, particularly if you’ve been feeling unwell. You may also find it higher than normal at other times, and perhaps non-existent in those final weeks and days before bub arrives!
I know personally, both my pregnancies were completely different. With Polly, I had loads of energy and felt that pregnancy glow that everyone talks about. If I can be totally candid, translated pretty well into the bedroom. (Overshare! I know, I know). However, it was an entirely different story when I was pregnant with Theo. I was super tired, felt horrible and sex was often the furthest thing from my mind.
Changes in your libido, either way, are completely normal and common in pregnancy. What’s important is that you communicate with your partner. Let them know how you’re feeling. Whether that’s enjoying a higher than normal sex drive or perhaps having no interest in being intimate at times. It’s all completely OK.
Now I know you’ve got come questions and concerns you would like addressed. I’ve heard plenty from pregnant Mummas over the years.
The most common questions and concerns…
Will having sex during pregnancy hurt the baby?
Fear not, your body is beautifully designed and your bubba is nicely protected inside the womb! The uterine muscles are very strong. Along with the amniotic sac and fluid, they protect the baby perfectly. Nothing is going to be poking the baby or even come close – trust me! Don’t forget, there is also a thick mucus plug covering your cervix. This helps to guard your baby against infection.
The only time this may be different is if you plan on having sex with someone with an unknown sexual history. The risks to you and your baby can be greater if you contract an STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection) while pregnant.
Can having sex in early pregnancy increase my chance of a miscarriage?
No, sex doesn’t lead to miscarriage or early labour. (Unless you fall into the high-risk categories as mentioned above).
Early miscarriages happen for many reasons, but having sex is not one of them. Causes of miscarriage can include hormonal imbalances, chromosomal abnormality and a number of other factors. So, if you feel up to it amidst the fatigue of pregnancy, lucky you and go for it!
Will having an orgasm increase my chance of going into early labour?
Having sex is one of the most well-known natural methods to inducing labour. However, having on orgasm isn’t suddenly going to set you off. Well, not unless you were naturally going into labour anyway!
Some women may feel uterine contractions after reaching the big-O. Though, these aren’t the same as the ones in labour. If you do experience these, it can be a positive sign that your uterus is strong. This is a good thing as you prepare to go into labour.
However, if you are due and trying everything to go into labour naturally, there are a few reasons why being intimate may help. While it can seem physically impossible at this stage (time to get a bit creative!), having sex may help start the labour process. But, only when both your baby and body are ready in a normal, low-risk scenario.
How you wonder?
Semen naturally contains prostaglandins, which helps to soften and ripen the cervix. While this can be helpful, it will not trigger labour unless you’re ready to go anyway.
Another trick that I teach in our Online Childbirth Course is that nipple stimulation can help. This is thanks to the release of oxytocin. A synthetic version of oxytocin, known as Syntocinon is used to induce labour. So, helping your body produce this naturally through nipple stimulation may be helpful in those later stages. Especially when you’re willing to try pretty much anything and everything to get that bubba out!
What are some of the benefits of having sex during pregnancy?
Not only is it OK to have sex during pregnancy, in most cases it can actually be very beneficial! Here are just some of the ways it can help you enjoy a happy and healthy pregnancy:
- It can help strengthen your pelvic floor and the uterine walls.
- Orgasms during pregnancy are actually very useful. Orgasms can help prepare your body for labour and promote a faster postpartum recovery. Bonus fact: being pregnant means an increased blood flow which can result in high sex drive and better orgasms. Not a bad problem to have!
- Lower stress and blood pressure. Thanks to that wonderful rush of endorphins and bonding time with your partner.
- Enhance your immune system, which is great for preventing illness during pregnancy. Sex helps boost levels of IgA, an antibody that supports your body’s natural immune response
- Increases heart rate and helps you stay active. Moderate activity during pregnancy is good for you and baby, so if you’re feeling up to it, sex is a fun way to get the blood pumping!
Finally, remember that what’s ‘normal’ for you may not be normal for everyone else. It’s important to discuss how you’re feeling with your partner. Be open to finding creative ways to be intimate and above all, trusting what feels right for you and your body. Communication is always key and don’t forget – if you ever have any concerns, pain after sex, bleeding or unusual discharge, consult your doctor, obstetrician or midwife.