If you’ve had an uncomplicated pregnancy, it’s completely safe to have sex right up until your baby is due. The amniotic sac surrounding your baby is full of fluid that cushions your baby from harm. Your cervix is also sealed by a thick plug of mucus which protects your baby from infection.
When to Avoid Sex in Pregnancy
If you have had heavy bleeding during your pregnancy, your doctor or midwife may advise you to avoid sex altogether. The bleeding may be caused by a
low lying placenta (placenta praevia), or it may result in a haematoma which is a collection of blood. Having sex
could therefore trigger more bleeding.
If your partner has genital herpes and you don’t, you may be advised to avoid sex. If you catch this condition for the first time during pregnancy, there is a small chance it could affect your baby.
You will also need to avoid having sex once your waters break. Having sex after your waters have broken increases the risk of infection.
There are a number of other cases where you may be advised not to have sex during your pregnancy – these include where there is a history of cervical weakness, abdominal pains or cramps. In all cases, your doctor or midwife will be able to advise on whether or not this applies to you.
Thrush is quite common during pregnancy because your hormones cause increased glycogen in your vagina, making it
more easy for thrush to develop. If this happens, you can continue to have sex if you want to, but your partner will need to wear a condom so that they do not also become infected.
Sex at Different Stages
Some women find that their sex drive increases during pregnancy. Pregnancy hormones cause your breasts to swell, which feels painful for some women and pleasurable for others. Your vulva also becomes engorged and more sensitive, thanks to the extra blood flow. This can make sex during pregnancy feel more arousing than usual.
An increased libido is very common during the first trimester where your hormones are more likely to play havoc. However for some women, the higher sex drive continues right through pregnancy until the baby is due.
Other women have a completely different experience during pregnancy and do not feel like having sex at all. Every woman is different and for some, aching breasts, abdominal cramps, nausea, fatigue and painful penetration make sex an unpleasant experience. If you want to have sex but you are finding it uncomfortable, try finding other ways of making love, such as sensual massage, foreplay, masturbation and oral sex.
If your sex drive remains strong through the first and second trimester, don’t be surprised if it plummets later on. By the third
trimester your bump will have grown and various symptoms such as backache and swollen ankles may cause you to feel less in the mood.
Your Baby During Sex
Your baby won’t know what’s going on while you have sex, but you may find that later in pregnancy having sex or having an orgasm causes them to move around quite a bit. Both sex and having an orgasm can also cause you to have Braxton Hicks contractions which are perfectly normal ‘tester’ contractions that shouldn’t be mistaken for the onset of labour. These can be a little uncomfortable for you and you may need to relax for a while until they pass.
Sexual positions during pregnancy
Although it’s safe to have sex (unless you’ve been advised otherwise) not all positions will feel the same as they did before you were pregnant – and a little experimenting may be required! Having sex with your partner on top can be uncomfortable, even before your bump has grown to a noticeable size. In this position, you may find that your sensitive breasts rather than your bump are the problem.
Other positions can feel unpleasant if your partner penetrates deeply. Keep the penetration shallow and controlled by lying on your side either with your partner behind or facing each other for a gentler experience.
You may have read that having sex when your baby is due to be born can help to bring on labour. Although it’s not clear how effective sex is in bringing on labour in late pregnancy, there is some science behind the theory. The prostaglandins in semen are thought to soften the cervix and the hormone oxytocin which is released during orgasm can set off contractions. Since hospitals use artificial prostaglandins to induce labour, it might be worth a try around your due
date, if you’re anxious to meet your little one.