Everything You Need to Know About Sex During Pregnancy

Natural Birth

Should sex be stopped as soon as you fall pregnant? Can orgasms cause labor? Sex during pregnancy is it safe or not? and how much sex is too much sex for a pregnant woman?

Firstly, hearty congratulations (if you are pregnant). If you are torn between having and not having sex during pregnancy or contemplating how soon you can start being intimate with your partner once you put to bed, then dear soon to be mama, read on to find the answers you seek.

Is Sex During Pregnancy Safe?

If you are healthy and have a normal pregnancy, then sex during pregnancy is safe. And here is why; your uterine walls are made of strong muscles and your baby is also well cushioned by the amniotic sac. Furthermore, there is a thick cover of mucus that covers your cervix during pregnancy – this helps to keep the baby in a sterile environment, away from any external infections. Also, sex during pregnancy should not cause any abnormal pain or discomfort, aside from the inconvenience of a bigger stomach.

Sex in Early Pregnancy – Should I Be Worried?

Some expectant mothers and sometimes their partners, fear that sex during the early stages of pregnancy – especially the first trimester – can cause miscarriage. Actually, nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, miscarriages are mainly caused by a chromosomal abnormality in the fetus or hormonal imbalances in the pregnant mother – none of which can be caused by having sex.

However, some soon to be mommas cannot stand the idea of sex during the first trimester because the body undergoes so many changes at this point – fatigue, nausea and morning sickness, to mention a few. This phase is sure to pass once they enter their second trimester. So, you and your partner should work out how best to handle intimacy during this period.

Sex in Late Pregnancy

Once you reach your third trimester, your bigger belly would obviously be an obstacle to sex as you used to know it. Get creative and find more comfortable ways to do the deed. Remember, sex during this phase of your pregnancy is still safe, as long as you don’t try out ‘adventurous’ positions that can put your swollen belly under undue pressure or pain.

Also, semen contains prostaglandins, and this is known to soften the cervix – often termed a ripening and opening process of the cervix – however, this is only possible when you are indeed due for labor; thus, the semen cannot be the single main factor to cause labor in normal low-risk pregnancies.

The hormone Oxytocin – which is released by the body if the nipple is stimulated – is the same hormone used by the hospital to induce labor during a caesarian section. So, nipple stimulation may induce labor.

So, both semen and nipple stimulation can induce labor in a pregnancy older than 40 weeks. However, you should talk to your doctor or midwife to find out more.

Benefits of Sex During Pregnancy

Sex during normal low-risk pregnancy should not be painful, neither should it cause bleeding.

Conversely, there are several advantages to having sex during pregnancy. Some of them are listed below:

  • Sex during pregnancy can keep cold away as it tends to boost the levels of IgA – an antibody that helps to enhance the body’s immune system and response to diseases.
  • Have as many orgasms as you can during this period, because orgasms help to strengthen the uterine and pelvic floors – this can quicken the labor process and fasten postpartum recovery.
  • Sex during pregnancy can be considered a normal workout. As such, you still enjoy all the benefits of a good exercise such as lower stress levels, burning calories, and reduced blood pressure levels.
  • A faster heart rate means increased blood flow, and this can mean better orgasms, and more orgasms are the by-product of amazing sex!

Is Oral Sex Safe During Pregnancy?

In most cases, oral sex during pregnancy is safe. However, there are rules that guide the act. If your partner has oral herpes, then they should desist from giving you oral sex when their outbreak is at its peak, or when you are in your third trimester (regardless of the stage of the outbreak). If you are unsure of your partner’s HIV status or if they are positive, then you should probably abstain from oral sex. Although the odds of contracting HIV via oral sex is slim, the possibility still exists, and for the good of your baby, it’s best to not force your luck.

Also, please advise your partner against blowing air into your vaginal during oral sex. Although unlikely, there is a chance that air embolism can occur, this can be harmful to both you and your baby.

Can I Use Lubrication During Pregnancy?

Lube is fine, for most parts. However, we aren’t big fans of the popular lube products out there. They contain chemicals that you are better off not introducing to your body while pregnant.

If you or your partner will be using a condom, settle for a normal water-based condom over oil-based ones.

However, if you are pregnant and in a happy monogamous relationship, you probably will have no need for condoms. If this is the case, then just use good, old trusted olive oil as a lubricant. Olive oil is completely safe, natural and does what a good lube should do – lubricate!

Can Orgasms Cause Premature Labor?

To succinctly put, No. Orgasms are not responsible for labor. While they may cause contractions when they happen, they are a lot different from the ones you have during labor. On the other hand, uterine contractions are a good thing, since they indicate that your uterus is indeed ripe and ready for delivering your baby.

Should Sex be Avoided at Certain Points in Pregnancy?

Your doctor or midwife may recommend pelvic rest – a period where you should abstain from pregnancy – in the following situations:

  • You have had instances of premature or preterm labor in the past;
  • You experience random vaginal bleeding;
  • If sex during pregnancy causes pain and bleeding;
  • Your cervix opens prematurely (cervical insufficiency);
  • Your placenta completely or partially covers your cervix (Placenta previa);
  • Your amniotic fluid is leaking or your membranes have ruptured;
  • You have a dilated cervix.

Is a Decrease in Sex Drive Normal During Pregnancy?

Yes, this is totally normal. Throughout your pregnancy, you may lose interest in sex during your first trimester, and slowly have an increased sex-drive towards the second trimester. In essence, expect a fair share of disinterest in sex as your pregnancy and body transverses through different stages during your pregnancy. However, a positive body-image is key to enjoying your sex life during your pregnancy.

How Soon Can I Have Sex Again After Delivery?

The rule of thumb is to wait at least 6 weeks postpartum. Regardless of whether you underwent normal labor or a cesarean section, your body should be given ample time to recover.

In the first week, your uterine lining is healing and your cervix is closing. Also, once you notice that your lochia flows are reducing or have stopped, then the healing process is nearing completion. However, if there were no cuts or tears during delivery, and your bleeding has ceased before the normal 6 weeks, your midwife or doctor may okay sex again. If you had any form of episiotomy or needed stitches for any reason, then it is advised that you wait for the entire 6 weeks and then book a postpartum appointment to be sure that any laceration and stitches have totally healed.

Nonetheless, most women will not be disposed to having sex less than six weeks after delivery. Some may still feel pains for a few more months (talk to your doctor if you feel uncomfortable). While intercourse may be abhorred during this period, you can always find other ways to bring yourself to orgasm if you so wish.

On the contrary, some women do not feel both emotionally and physically ready for sex just yet. The whole stress and preparation that comes with birthing a new baby can take its toll on the body, in addition to breastfeeding duties. Some women may need a while to adjust back to the changes in their body during the post-pregnancy period. Others may have put on a bit of weight and so may require a little while to get used to their new self.

Throughout this period, it is crucial that you keep communicating with your partner and let them know how you feel about how soon you feel you may be ready to be intimate with them again. Also, you may both discuss other amicable ways to take care of your sexual needs for the time being.

Virtual Doula Services

Chrissi Long - Birth Alchemy Coach

Chrissi is a Birth Alchemy Coach and the founder of blissfulbirthing.com which helps mamas-to-be tap into their body’s innate wisdom and divine feminine power to birth naturally.

With 6 natural childbirths Chrissi’s mission is to rewrite the societal story that it has become “normal” to see birth as a medical condition.

One that’s excruciating and completely out of a woman’s control and not the beautiful biological process that it truly is.

She’s helped hundreds of women go from petrified of the pain and disempowered to embracing the experience and having a fully natural and blissful birth that they cherish the memory of forever more.