Mother and Baby

Sex during pregnancy: A guide to staying safe and having fun

Pregnant-couple-in-bed

It may be sex that got you pregnant in the first place, but just because there's a baby on the way doesn't mean you should stop having sex. In fact, sex during pregnancy is perfectly safe as long as your GP or midwife don't say otherwise, and many pregnant women actually say having pregnant sex is a much more enjoyable experience. 

It’s hard enough to keep up with your rapidly growing bump, let alone your pregnancy sex drive as well as any new changes happening to you down below and understandably, not many of us want to chat openly with our GP or midwife about whether it’s safe to orgasm or masturbate or whether it's okay to still have oral sex. So, we chatted to Rachel FitzD: Baby & Parenting Expert and author of Your Baby Skin To Skin for her top tips and advise for sex during pregnancy. So, read on to put your worries to, ahem, bed.

In this article:

Is it safe to have sex during pregnancy? 

Choosing to have sex while pregnant is entirely up to you and how comfortable you are feeling in your body. But rest assured, it IS perfectly safe to have sex during pregnancy unless your doctor or midwife has told you not to. For example, if you had a condition such as cervical weakness or a low-lying placenta.

If you experience any bleeding, that may be a sign your body wants you to stop and you should consult your doctor before continuing to have sex regularly. Also, sex is not normally advised for those expecting twins, triplets, or other multiples.

"Your GP or midwife will tell you if you should avoid sex at any point in pregnancy and, if you are unsure, ask. The times when you might be advised against sex are if you have had any heavy bleeding, if you have a low-lying placenta (known as placenta praevia), if there are known problems with your cervix which might cause you to go into premature labour or if your waters have broken. Also, if you have a history of premature labour or are carrying twins then you might be advised to avoid sex during the later stages of pregnancy in order to avoid putting you into early labour." Says Rachel.  

But more generally, sexual activity won't affect your baby, and should be enjoyed safely and communicatively!

I’ve read that orgasms can cause miscarriage, is this true?

Having sex during pregnancy won't provoke a miscarriage. Most miscarriages occur because the foetus isn't developing normally. But as miscarriages are the most common in the first trimester, you are advised to speak to your doctor if you experience spotting after an orgasm, have had problem pregnancies before or are at all worried. 

According to Rachel, orgasms are totally safe during pregnany, although you may find they feel a little different. 

"The normal contractions which occur during orgasm can feel stronger during pregnancy which alarms some women, but these are quite safe. They will not put you into labour and they will not upset the baby at all. Gentle relaxation exercises and breathing can help ease orgasm contractions if they are uncomfortable, and it is also a good idea to reassure your partner that you and the baby cannot come to any harm through you enjoying your orgasm as much as usual."

An orgasm during pregnancy can potentially cause cramps, as can your partner's semen inside you, so that’s something to be aware of.  The only time orgasming could be problematic is if you have any problems with your placenta, or if you are really far along in your pregnancy. Orgasms cause contractions in the uterus, so could bring about an early labour if you are far along. Same goes for if a woman is carrying triplets - there might be a concern about preterm contractions because the uterus might be over-extended.

But otherwise, lie back and enjoy – you’ve definitely earned it. 

pregnant-couple-hugging

Is it normal for my boobs to leak when I orgasm?

Pregnancy body changes can come as a shock if you’re not expecting them. “Some women find their boobs leak when they orgasm later in pregnancy,” explains sex and relationship expert Petra Boynton. “It could be just a dribble or a full-on spray. While this is normal, not all women are comfortable with it. If that’s you, keep your bra on and use breast pads (as used by breastfeeding mums) when you make love.”

Is it okay to masturbate?

Doctors would actually advise masturbation as the safest form of sex during pregnancy, as there is the least risk of injury. This can be a relief for many women who find themselves in a constant state of arousal, but with no desire to have penetrative sex. 

"If you have been told by your GP or midwife not to have penetrative sex whilst pregnant, then do ask if it is still ok to masturbate. And if it is ok to have penetrative sex then it is absolutely ok to masturbate. Avoid using any perfumed oils or lubricants which might cause irritation or thrush as the vulval tissues can be more sensitive during pregnancy. And be extra careful to properly clean any sex toys you use to avoid getting a sexually transmitted infection." Says Rachel. 

As mentioned above, orgasms do cause contractions in the uterus, so follow our advice above if you are worried. Masturbation during pregnancy is often even advisable in the late stages of pregnancy, as a labour induction method or if labour is delayed.

Can we still have oral sex?

Yes! Although your partner may find that you taste different.

“Most women have a lot more lubrication in pregnancy,” says expert Petra. “The texture changes, it’s thicker and it has a stronger smell. If your partner isn't a fan, they can use a dental dam during oral sex. But you’re not weird – these are the physical changes that nobody tells you about.” If, however, it has a bad odour, you see blood or it feels like thrush, see your doctor.

One word of warning, if you're receiving oral sex while pregnant, your partner should be careful not to blow air into your vagina. It's possible for an air bubble to block one of your blood vessels, causing an air embolism, which is potentially fatal for your baby. Try not to worry though, as this is extremely rare. 

If you are worried, it is probably safer that your partner sticks to stimulating your clitoris and the lips around your vagina (labia), rather than going inside with their tongue. Don't be afraid to discuss the dos and don'ts with your partner beforehand.

Woman-under-covers

Why can’t he get an erection?

It doesn’t mean he’s not attracted to you, don’t overthink it! Dads get stressed about parenthood too, many dads are worried they will harm the baby and therefore struggle to feel relaxed when having sex. 

Do your best to reassure him that you love him, he’ll be an amazing Dad, and if it’s just not happening, explore other non-penetrative ways of giving each other pleasure.

Does pregnancy sex have any impact on the baby? 

Your developing baby is protected by the amniotic fluid in your uterus, as well as by the strong muscles of the uterus itself. So sexual activity won't hurt the baby and they won’t be able to feel it, as long as you don't have complications such as preterm labour or placenta problems.

This concern is usually more of an issue when it comes to penetrative sex (vaginal sex and anal sex). But rest assured, penetrative sex will not result in your partner prodding the baby or hurting it with their penis or sex toy. The foetus sits far higher than the end of your vagina and is protected by the amniotic sac.

If your doctor hasn’t warned you against it, you can continue to have sex as normal, but if you’re worried, perhaps try a position that doesn’t enable such deep penetration, such as spooning side by side.

The thought of the baby being aware of their parents making love can be a worry for some mums-and dads-to-be. Some couples feel guilty for doing it ‘in front of the baby’ but sex during pregnancy is healthy and normal, and your baby will be largely oblivious.

“Both men and women can worry about the baby ‘knowing’ they are having sex,” says Petra. “The baby will feel some movement and hear your voices and other sounds, but he won’t have any emotional response to it. Some babies move around while their parents are making love, and others sleep all the way through. Either way, there is nothing to feel guilty about.”

Couple-with-bump

Changes to your sex drive during pregnancy

Feeling randier than usual may be the last thing you expected right now, but it’s actually totally normal! “Some women can think: ‘I’m pregnant – is it appropriate to feel this way?’,” says Petra. “If you’re self-conscious, you might find it easier to tell your partner how much you want him in a text or email. You could even read a saucy book together in bed or watch a sexy film.” Having sex will depend on how comfortable you are feeling, but by all means indulge if you feel able to!

Sex during pregnancy can be an extraordinary experience, and changes in hormone levels during pregnancy do boost your libido. In fact, many women report experiencing more intense climaxes during the second trimester, than ever before, so it's normal to want to spice things up too.

It’s all about doing what is comfortable and pleasurable for you. “If you’re using sex toys – and it’s fine to do so – you need to be more aware of cleanliness when you are pregnant,” says Petra. “It’s best if you don’t share the same toy. Or put a condom on the toy to avoid the possibility of infection.”

What are the best positions during pregnancy?

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Spooning

Spooning is comfortable, no one has to exert themselves too much, and deep penetration is difficult to achieve, which is good for your cervix if it's sensitive.
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Facing each other

Side by side, facing each other, allows for variation in speed and depth. It also allows for extra intimacy because you and your partner can look into each other’s eyes.
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You on top

Straddling him from above lets you set the pace and keeps pressure off your bump, allowing you to be in control. It helps to put your hands on the top of the headboard at the same time to help you stabilise yourself, as well as save your energy.
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Rear entry

Prop yourself up on all fours so he can enter you from behind. Make sure you encourage him to take it slow and communicate what does and doesn’t feel good. This position does open you up for deeper penetration, so be careful if your cervix is feeling sensitive. Rear-entry is a good option in your third trimester as it puts no pressure on your bladder or uterus.

Why does sex make me so emotional now?

Pregnancy hormones can make your emotions volatile even during the most mundane of tasks. So in the throes of making love, you could lurch from dramatic highs to crashing lows. Your orgasms might feel different, as could your whole attitude towards sex, both during and afterwards. 

Orgasms may leave you feeling weepy and emotional! Pregnancy hormones and body changes are the cause of this, and it’s completely normal. Those same hormones may also make you very demanding for sex or put you off it altogether.

"I don’t feel like I look sexy anymore"

Struggling with morning sickness, rarely in the mood for penetrative sex and worried they’ll go elsewhere? Don’t assume you know what your partner is thinking and - most importantly - communicate.

“A lot of pregnancy sex advice taps into this idea that men are sex-crazed beasts and you must soldier on, but that’s just not the case,” says Petra. “If you’re feeling too ill, tired or uncomfortable to have sex, then don’t.”

It’s your body, and your choice. But if your partner is struggling, perhaps think about other ways you can be intimate and spend time together, whether that’s nights in cuddled on the sofa or falling asleep together.

Couple-in-bed

Despite what you may think, your changing body shape may well be a turn on for your partner. But while you might worry about your new crop of stretch marks, they’re most definitely the last thing on their mind when you are making love.

“Think about it from their point of view,” says Petra. “Your growing baby bump means you will have to experiment with different positions. It’s highly unlikely they’ll mind that your growing bump rules out the missionary position.” 

Real #mumtribe mums talk pregnancy sex


Tiffany Fitzpatrick says: 'First was a boy and sex drive took a plunge. Second was a girl and it went up. But we did try once and I hated it! Just wasn’t comfy at all. Any way we did it. I’ve found - with people I know - that when pregnant with a girl their sex drive increases... dunno if there’s any true scientific fact in it though. Just something I’ve found.'

Christie Eardley says: 'I didn’t want it much during pregnancy. Plus once I got to around 34 weeks I felt like baby was going to fall out so there was no way I was doing the deed 🤣.  I was pregnant with a boy (didn’t know until birth though) but yes from around 20 weeks there wasn’t a lot of action mainly due to SPD.'
 

 

 
  • Author: Lorna White Lorna White
  • Job Title: Digital Writer

Lorna is the digital executive and regular contributor for Mother&Baby. After running the Yours magazine website which specialises in content about caring for kids and grandchildren, she has now brought her expertise to the UK's #1 leading pregnancy and parenting magazine. Lorna specialises on a range of topics from potty training and nutrition, to everything and anything that will keep your tot occupied!

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