Some men and women shy away from having sex during pregnancy because they are afraid it will hurt the baby. While there are some situations in which abstaining from sex is medically indicated, that is usually not the case in pregnancy.
Surveys have been done about pregnant women and their feelings about sex. One-third reported no change in their attitude; one-third reported they were less interested in sex and the last group reported an increased interest in sex. This higher libido may result from hormonal changes or reduced inhibitions because the fear of getting pregnant is no longer an issue.
In the first trimester, women often have morning sickness that lasts far beyond the morning, and that queasiness can be a real turnoff. Breast tenderness and fatigue are other reasons many women do not want to have sex in the beginning of pregnancy. By the second trimester, women feel better and are more likely to resume a normal sex life.
However, if you are pregnant and have more than one partner (or your partner has more than one partner), you must use condoms because you are still susceptible to sexually transmitted diseases.
In the third trimester, many women are uncomfortable lying on their backs, so it’s worth checking out alternative positions. You may need to be creative! A pillow under the right hip can help relieve the feelings of lightheadedness and nausea that many women feel when lying flat.
There are some women who should abstain from sex during pregnancy. Among the medical reasons for avoiding sex are:
- any recent vaginal bleeding
- preterm labor
- ruptured membranes (broken water bag)
- placenta previa (a condition in which the placenta is covering the inside of the cervix)
In a healthy pregnancy, the baby is well-cushioned and is in no way compromised when his parents engage in sexual intercourse.
After the baby is born, there are many beliefs about when intercourse can safely be resumed, and very little in the way of hard evidence. In the first few days or weeks after delivery, when the lochia (bloody discharge) is still passing and the cervix remains slightly dilated, there may be an increased risk of uterine infection with intercourse, and any episiotomy or lacerations will still be tender.
Many doctors recommend waiting five to six weeks before resuming sexual intercourse.
Right after delivery, women have a major drop in estrogen levels, especially if they’re breast-feeding. That can reduce vaginal lubrication and discomfort.
Lubricants can help, but remember, if you’re ready to have sex again you’re ready to get pregnant again, so use contraception even if you’re breast-feeding, and practice safe sex.