Mother and Baby

Pregnancy sex: All the questions you were too embarrassed to ask

pregnant couple in bed

It may be sex that got you pregnant in the first place, but doing it once you are expecting can be different. That doesn’t mean it can’t still be fun…

It’s hard enough to keep up with your rapidly growing bump, let alone the changes to your sex life and anything new happening to you down below.

Understandably not many women want to chat openly with their GP or midwife about whether it’s safe to orgasm or why their man won’t give them oral any more. So, read on to put your worries to, ahem, bed.

Firstly – should you have sex when you’re pregnant?

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.

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. 

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. 

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 Petra. “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. 

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 he may find that you taste different.

“Most women have a lot more lubrication in pregnancy,” says sex and relationship expert Petra Boynton. “The texture changes, it’s thicker and it has a stronger smell. If he’s not a fan, he 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 if he sticks to stimulating your clitoris and the lips around your vagina (labia), rather than going inside with his tongue. Don't be afraid to discuss the dos and don'ts with him beforehand.

 

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.

Can you feel the baby when we make love?

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 affect your baby and you 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 for men. But rest assured, penetrative sex will not result in your partner prodding the baby or hurting it with his penis. 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.

Does the baby know what you’re doing?

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.”

Why am I so aroused all the time?

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.

Do we have to stick to straightforward sex?

There is no reason why sex has to become staid with pregnancy. 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 sex positions to try when you’re pregnant?

 

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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.

Will he stray elsewhere?

Struggling with morning sickness, rarely in the mood for penetrative sex and worried he’ll go elsewhere? Don’t assume you know what he’s 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 he’s 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.

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

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 his mind when you are making love.

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

As your pregnancy progresses, you’ll have to tell him what you want and enjoy as your needs change, and this will typically be welcomed by him. He isn’t so naïve as to think that you are going to grow a baby without undergoing some pretty major changes in your own physiological make-up. So, although he may not know specifically what to expect, he probably won’t be surprised that your body is changing.

 

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