When you’re pregnant, one thing you can be sure of is change—body, mind, mood, it’s a continuous flux. But does this include your sex life? There are a lot of myths about sex during pregnancy (cue information overload from social media, friends, and our favourite search engine). We separate the fact from the fiction, so you feel safe, confident and empowered in your decision making around your sex life while pregnant.
Myth: Pregnancy sex isn’t safe
The good news is, as long as you have a healthy pregnancy and get the all-clear from your midwife or practitioner, sex is safe during pregnancy. But that doesn’t always mean you’ll be worry free about getting intimate in the bedroom during pregnancy. Myths circling about risks of sex in the first trimester or bringing on labor in the third trimester can make you think twice. And although there are times that you might be advised to avoid sex during pregnancy, it can actually have benefits for you and baby, including a boost your emotional wellbeing, create connection in your relationship, and can be just as enjoyable, if not more-so, than before you got pregnant. The key is honest conversations with your partner, finding reliable information you can trust (we’ve got you covered there) and experimenting, so you both feel confident to get intimate when the time is right.
Myth: Having sex will harm the baby
You’re responsible for that little life in there, so will your pleasure cause them pain? When someone is pregnant, their cervix is high and closed until it’s time for labor, keeping baby tucked in safe. This means no penis or sex toy can penetrate beyond your vagina to harm baby—news that is more damaging to some egos than to baby. If you already enjoy sex toys, or want to try some femtech while pregnant, some precautions may be needed, but they can still be enjoyed safely while pregnant and it can be a great time to experiment.
The mucus plug is also doing its job to seal your cervix and help guard against infection while you are pregnant, so providing you have an honest conversation with your partner about active STIs and talk to a medical practitioner about managing them, if necessary, you can feel reassured that your body is able to protect baby from anything entering the vagina. Baby also has layers of protection from the outside world from your abdominal muscles, uterus, and the fluid-filled amniotic sac, keeping them safe from the jostling and bumps of your day-to-day activities. So, as long as you and your bump feel comfortable during sex, you can feel confident to relax and enjoy.
Myth: The baby can feel it when I’m having sex
With all that protection, baby is unlikely to notice when you’re having sex—besides some extra movement or intriguing new sounds. They are used to being rocked by your daily activities, so your fun in the sheets may just lull baby off to sleep. An active baby after sex might be making the most of your rest time as a chance to wake up and have a wiggle, so as long as you aren’t experiencing any bleeding or leaking fluid after sex (in which case call your midwife or practitioner), you can get your breath back and enjoy those endorphins.
Myth: Having sex will bring on labor
How many times have we seen it on TV (think Rachel trying to persuade Ross in Friends) or suggested on social media—having sex can bring on labor. Apologies to everyone at the end of their pregnancy looking to speed up meeting baby, but research shows that having sex won’t bring on labor before your body is ready. It is safe to continue having sex into your nineth month of pregnancy and until your waters break, as long as your doctor or midwife haven’t advised you otherwise.
Sex in pregnancy may cause some mild cramping or contractions in your uterus, but rest assured, these Braxton Hicks contractions should pass if you rest and depending how far advanced the pregnancy is, baby will only feel them slightly—think gentle hug for them and pleasure for you.
Myth: Pregnancy lowers your sex drive
As your body changes through the trimesters, so do the hormones that are responsible for our libidos. Suddenly feel like sex is even more appealing, or the last thing you feel like doing? Thank your hormones! As estrogen and progesterone rise in pregnancy they can be responsible for nausea, exhaustion and breast sensitivity, meaning sex is not what you fancy from the menu. However, at around week 10, these hormones will drop off. And that, along with an increased blood flow to the genitals, means sexual appetite can grow.
Pregnancy is a journey, so how you feel one week, or even one day, to the next could change. Have open and honest conversations with your partner about how you’re feeling to set expectations, but don’t be afraid to change your mind with your mood. If your pregnancy is making you feel more frisky, or even liberated, take advantage and enjoy that freedom in the sheets. And if sex isn’t floating your boat right now, this could be the perfect time to experiment with other ways to find intimacy and strengthen your relationship with your partner. And who knows, you might find your bond is intensified in other ways.
Myth: Pregnancy sex is painful
Fear of pain during sex while pregnant can make the thought of getting intimate rather off-putting. It’s possible that your usual positions or your partner’s classic moves that you’ve enjoyed before are no longer doing it for you while you’re pregnant. This means it’s time to experiment!
It can be trial and error initially (and even more effort than usual) to find a comfortable position. And again, communication is key here, because what felt amazing last time is now feeling like an awkward passion-killer, but pain should not be a normal part of pregnancy sex. If you do experience pain during sex, contact your midwife or doctor for advice and reassurance. Don’t be afraid to try something different—mutual masturbation, sex toys and different positions could be the answer to unlocking pleasure for you and your partner.
Tips: Best sex positions for pregnancy
Now that there’s quite literally an extra something between you and your partner during sex, it can feel rather different to your pre-pregnancy passion sessions. As your bump grows, you’ll want to try some different positions to take the weight off your belly and keep you off your back for extended periods of time. Your comfort and pleasure is key, so it’s time to get creative and try some new pregnancy sex positions to see how they feel.
Side lying positions are great for taking that weight off and can be tried front-to-back or face-to-face. A pillow between your knees can take pressure off your lower back and make this a more comfortable position.
Having the pregnant partner on top means you’re in control of the movement and doesn’t put pressure on your bump. It may get more difficult to get into or sustain this position as your pregnancy progresses, but if it feels good, enjoy it.
Having your partner behind you can enable many different positions for you. Try kneeling on your hands and knees, taking advantage of pillows to support some of the bump weight, or standing with your hands against the wall to help support you.
If a position feels good for you and you’ve had the green light from your doctor or midwife to have sex, then you can be reassured it’s safe—so feel confident to get imaginative with your partner.
Your sex drive is a complex and ever-changing thing—particularly while pregnant. So, if you find yourself in the mood for some intimacy, and you’ve had the go ahead from your practitioner or midwife, then feel empowered by your new-found knowledge and allow yourself to feel confident in exploring (alone or with your partner), and find sexual pleasure in your pregnancy body.
The medical information in this article is provided as an information resource only and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. Please consult your doctor for guidance about a specific medical condition.