Congratulations! So you have just learnt that you and your partner are expecting a baby. Of course, when the excitement wears off, there will be pertinent issues that you need to discuss such as finances, living arrangements, who will take care of the baby after your maternity leave is over and so on. At this time, sex might be the furthest thing on your mind, but not for long. Then you will start to worry about your sex life and whether it is actually safe to have sex with a bun in the oven.
To clear the air, sex during pregnancy is safe for majority of women especially those with low-risk pregnancy. The body has put mechanisms in place to protect the foetus from harm. For instance, there is a thick mucus plug that seals the cervix and prevents against infection as the strong muscles of the uterus and amniotic sac keep the baby safe. If this will help, know that the baby has no idea of what is happening. In addition, the penis does not go beyond the vagina during intercourse hence don’t worry about hitting the baby’s head.
Experts say sex is good for both mother and baby. Not only does it help you sleep better and lower your blood pressure, but it also makes you happier. The chemicals released during sex – dopamine, serotonin, endorphins and oxytocin – help you relax. It is also worthwhile to debunk the old wives’ tale that sex may trigger labour before the due date. Nothing could be further from the truth; if your body is not ready to go into labour, then no amount of sex will induce it. So rest easy and enjoy sex without the fear of getting pregnant.
There are, however, circumstances where you are advised to go slow or completely keep off sex. If you experience bleeding or spotting early on in the pregnancy, you may be required to avoid sex until you reach the fourteenth week. There will be instances where sex will be completely off the table for the entire duration of the pregnancy. For example, if you have a history of a previous miscarriage or preterm labour, have a history of cervical weakness, have placenta praevia (a low-lying placenta), have a vaginal infection or heavy bleeding. In case of such a scenario, our advice is to engage in other forms of intimacy that do not involve penetration. Your partner and you can definitely find ways to address the intimacy you are both craving for.
Note that an expectant woman’s sexual desires may change as the pregnancy progresses. For some women, sex during the first trimester is a no-no and it has got everything to do with the hormonal changes taking place in their bodies. The rise in progesterone and oestrogen levels during the first trimester leads to hormonal changes, breast sensitivity, nausea and exhaustion, which wreak havoc on your sexual desires. Good news is that the hormone levels will drop around the tenth week and you will notice your sex drive, which was on a hiatus, creeping in.
Admittedly, the best time to enjoy sex during pregnancy would be in the second trimester. Your mojo would be back full swing; there will be increased vaginal lubrication and a hypersensitive clitoris because of increased blood flow in the genital area. These are the perfect ingredients for a more pleasurable sexual intercourse and it is the reason why the second trimester has been christened the ‘honeymoon period.’
The desire for sex may lessen in the third trimester due to anxiety, weight gain, pelvic pressure, back pain and low self-esteem brought about by the ballooning body. Sex may feel more like a comedic routine rather than a romantic affair as your try to find the best positions that work for you. But, with the following sex positions, you and your partner can continue enjoying sex until the baby comes knocking.
This is one of the most comfortable sex positions during pregnancy and it allows shallow penetration. You and your partner lie side by side with him behind you. Spooning is a great position during all the three trimesters and more so in the third trimester when your belly is too big. With this position, you will not have to worry about the weight of your belly nor will your partner feel the need to be at a safe distance so as not to lean heavily on it. Your partner can try different angles behind you to allow for penetration. Avoid lying on your right side whilst in this position.
All hail the missionary position especially if your man has the muscle power to support himself with his arms during the entire process. The aim is too keep his weight off you. If he doesn’t have the strength, then preserve this position for quickies but even then, he has to keep his weight off you. You can also attempt the edge-on-the-bed position, which is almost similar to missionary. Lie on your back on the bed or couch with your legs spread out. Ensure your bottom is at the edge of the bed and your feet are down on the floor. Your partner can then kneel or stand (depending on the height of the bed or couch) in front of you for access. You can prop a pillow or two under your back for optimum comfort. This move is perfect for the woman as it lets the man do all the work.
Both the missionary and edge-on-the-bed positions should not be used beyond the twentieth week of pregnancy. This is because the enlarged uterus places undue pressure on your aorta when you lie on your back, compromising blood flow to the placenta. Lying on your back for extended period could also make you feel dizzy.
In this position, the woman takes the driver’s seat by being on top of the man. It is a great sex position during pregnancy, as it doesn’t put any pressure on the woman’s belly. It also enables the woman to control the speed and depth of the penetration as well as clitoral stimulation. The other advantage with this position is that it can work throughout the pregnancy.
This rear entry position is a favourite for many couples as it gives the man easy access without necessarily manouvering around the belly. It also frees the bump from any pressure. In addition, it has so many variations hence you can work with whichever you are most comfortable with. For instance, the woman can go on all fours supporting herself on her elbows and knees or she can lean against the wall with hands spread as he penetrates from behind. Another option would be for him to sit on a chair and she sits on his lap away from him. This position allows for deep penetration.
Women respond differently to pregnancy and so it is advisable to do what makes you feel best. Sex during pregnancy requires a lot of creativity and of course, a sense of humour as some of these positions may appear awkward or comical. Laugh it off and try something else. While it is possible to enjoy lovemaking throughout the pregnancy without much trouble, take the following precautions:
- Go slow with the speed and pace.
- In case you experience spotting, abdominal cramps, heaviness or fatigue, stop the act immediately.
- If you are not in the mood for sex, get cozy with your partner by showing affection through other ways like cuddling and kissing.
- Resort to oral sex if you want to but do not blow air into the vagina.
- Do not have sex after your water breaks.
Published October 2016