How to have sex during pregnancy

What’s the most comfortable position?

How to have sex during pregnancy

When it comes to sex during pregnancy, your go-to positions may start feeling awkward as your belly gets bigger. Sex is definitely still in the picture – but you’ll probably be looking for new ways to make it happen.

Here are some ideas (complete with illustrations!) to get you started.

Side-by-side, at an angle

How to have sex during pregnancy

You each lie on your side, your bodies creating a V-shape. Wedge a pillow under your back for support as you face your partner, and rest both legs over his hip. This position allows him to keep most of his weight off your belly.

You on top

How to have sex during pregnancy

This position can work throughout your pregnancy. Straddle your partner as he lies on his back. That way, there’ll be no weight on your abdomen and you can control the depth of penetration.

On a chair

Straddle your partner as he sits on a sturdy chair. Position the chair near a wall or another piece of furniture to lean on when you’re ready to get up from this position.

Side-by-side, from behind

Lie with your partner facing your back and entering from behind. Keep some pillows handy for extra support as your pregnancy progresses.

Penetration tends to be shallower in this position. That’s a good thing, because deep thrusts can become uncomfortable in later months.

“Missionary” position

If you try missionary position after the first trimester, wedge a pillow under you so you’re tilted, not flat on your back. And make sure your partner supports himself so his weight isn’t on your belly.

Edge of the bed

Shift your bottom to the side or foot of the bed and lie back with your knees bent. (After the first trimester, wedge a pillow under one side so you’re not completely flat on your back.)

Depending on the height of the bed, your partner can kneel or stand.

From behind, doggy style

Support yourself on your knees and elbows as your partner kneels and enters from behind. A pillow can provide needed tummy support.

When intercourse is out

If sex with penetration is uncomfortable, you and your partner may want to find other ways to be intimate.

Find out whether it’s safe during pregnancy to use a lubricant, use a vibrator, receive oral sex, and more.

The best ways to get busy through every trimester.

How to have sex during pregnancy

Bumping and grinding with a baby on board may seem kinda scary, especially for first-time parents, but rest assured, research shows pregnancy sex is totally safe. In fact, unless your doctor advises you otherwise, feel free to try out as many different pregnancy sex positions as you want over the next nine months, says Tami Rowen, MD, an OB/GYN specializing in sexual health at the University of California San Francisco. (For instance, if you’re at risk for an early delivery, your doctor may recommend abstaining from sex entirely during the third trimester until around week 36, she adds.)

What’s better: The sex can feel amazing—like, even more amazing than before you got preggers. That’s because, during gestation, your body’s levels of estrogen and progesterone rise. Those hormones increase blood flow down there, which, in turn, ups vaginal lubrication and breast sensitivity, says OB/GYN Kecia Gaither, MD, MPH, FACOG, double board-certified in OB/GYN and Maternal Fetal Medicine, Director of Perinatal Services at NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln.

But even with all those pregnancy sex perks, you may also experience a change in your comfort level with certain positions, says certified sex therapist Donna Oriowo, PhD. “Because your body is changing, areas may become sensitive to the point of pain, it is necessary to check in from week to week—and even day to day—to know what works, what feels good, and what doesn’t,” she advises.

So, while all positions are fair game, you’ve probably heard that it’s unsafe to lay on your back after week 20. That’s partially true—this can compress the vena cava, a major blood vessel that can impact circulation throughout your body, as well as to your baby. But, before it gets to that point, it’ll feel uncomfortable, says Rowen. “There’s this stereotype that you have to have sex from the side or behind, but you can have missionary sex if it doesn’t last too long,” she explains. “After five to 10 minutes, you may start to feel weird, and you can just shift to your side at that point.”

Another thing to keep in mind: The cells on your cervix are more sensitive during this time, too, so they’re more likely to bleed. You may notice some spotting after sex—don’t freak. Instead, if you spot for any reason, call your doctor (even if you think it’s sex-related), advises Rowen. And, if sex doesn’t feel great now, that’s NBD. Opt for outercourse, oral sex, digital penetration, and anal sex—all safe for pregnant women, she says.

Remember sex can include toys, too, says Oriowo. She also recommends substituting your sex sesh with sensual touch and massages if you’re too tired (it’ll happen). “It’s a great way to connect and have intimacy without there being pressure on sex—especially since some folk find themselves way outside of the mood,” Oriowo explains. “Try using oils that bring a different scent or even random objects that add to the feel, like feathers.”

But if you’re in the mood for some serious under-the-sheets action, go for it! “I think it’s so important to have sex during pregnancy because it maintains intimacy in a relationship,” says Rowen. “There’s no reason to be scared of it.” Plus, after you have the baby, you’ll be abstaining from intercourse for about six weeks, so get yours now. Need some expert-approved inspo? Check out these 12 pregnancy sex position ideas that feel good and accommodate a growing belly:

How to have sex during pregnancy

Pregnant woman holding partner’s hand Getty Images

Your body goes through a whole host of changes when you’re pregnant, and your sex drive — and sex life — aren’t immune. And the differences aren’t universal: While some notice increased libido, others may feel their desire drop. Whitney Port, for example, recently appeared on the podcast LadyGang to share that she just can’t get into sex during pregnancy. “It is so not for me! It’s not. I feel so uncomfortable with my body that I can’t get into the mood,” she said.

Maybe you’re nodding in agreement with Port, maybe you adore pregnancy sex, and maybe you’re just curious about what to expect of sex when you’re expecting. We consulted sex therapists Ursula Ofman, PsyD, Vanessa Marin, and Kat Van Kirk, PhD about what to know about pregnancy sex no matter which camp you fall in.

1. Body insecurity and symptoms such as fatigue and morning sickness can contribute to aversion to sex, which is not an uncommon feeling.

Dr. Ofman tells us she’s heartened to see a public figure like Port open up about pregnancy body insecurities: “I think that has the potential to take some pressure off for some women who feel uneasy with their reduced interest in pregnancy, since common wisdom says that often women get more interested when they are pregnant,” she says. The truth is that different trimesters are different for everyone. Dr. Van Kirk says that for some, the first trimester is the biggest mood-killer, as that’s when morning sickness usually occurs. Fatigue during the first trimester is also common. “Later in the pregnancy, [a growing body] may also create a since of insecurity within the woman,” she says, making it difficult to feel sexy. If you find this to be the case for you, know that you’re not alone — and that it could help to voice your feelings to your partner. And on that note.

2. You may not be the only one feeling unsure about sex during your pregnancy: Your partner may be feeling it, too.

Dr. Van Kirk points out that the partner of a pregnant person “may be unsure how to initiate sex, how to find ways to position themselves, or may be afraid of hurting his pregnant partner or the gestating baby.” If you feel your partner has lost interest in sex during your pregnancy, one of these concerns could be at the root of it.

3. Increased blood flow can mean higher sex drives for some pregnant people.

“Interest in sex during pregnancy waxes and wanes according to hormones, body image, and stressors,” Dr. Van Kirk says. “Some women actually notice a rise in their libido and because of increased genital blood flow and lubrication, many find they are more orgasmic.” Marin agrees that sex during pregnancy can feel even better than usual — and that having sex brings benefits either way. “Your hormone levels and blood flow can increase your vaginal lubrication and your overall sensitivity,” she says. “Plus, having sex releases oxytocin, a hormone known to promote relaxation, trust, and comfort.” (She points out that it’s also possible pregnancy may not affect your libido at all.)

4. Remember to think beyond vaginal sex.

If penetrative sex isn’t appealing, Dr. Ofman says activities such as “caressing, holding, kissing, manual stimulation, oral stimulation, using a vibrator, [and] massage” are wonderful ways to connect. “Both men and women can feel awkward having vaginal intercourse during the later part of a pregnancy, and while they may feel sexually interested, they may fulfill that interest in other, non-penetrative ways,” she explains. With so many different forms of intimacy on the menu, penetrative sex shouldn’t be the be-all and end-all in your sex life even when you’re not pregnant. And, as always, foreplay is important to get you in the mood. Dr. Van Kirk cites foot rubs and back massages as warm-ups that may be especially welcome during pregnancy.

5. Avoid sex on your back, particularly late in pregnancy.

Positions in which the pregnant person is on their back may not be very comfortable, especially during the third trimester. By that point, lying on your back can strain your hips (and also decrease the amount of blood flowing to the baby).

6. Receiver-on-top, spooning, and doggy style positions may offer the most comfort.

Dr. Ofman recommends side-by-side penetration from behind in a spooning position, as it relieves belly pressure and allows for clitoral stimulation. Marin, meanwhile, vouches for receiver-on-top (also known as cowgirl) and reverse receiver-on-top, since you “can control the depth, angle, and pace, so you can make sure you’re comfortable.” She also suggests a modified doggy style in which you support yourself on your elbows: “Going down on your elbows can make the penetration of normal doggy style less intense, while still letting you have some of the fun you had in your pre-pregnancy days.”

How to have sex during pregnancy

How To Have Sex During Pregnancy? : Ways and Risks

If you are pregnant, you may be wondering if sex might be unsafe for you or the baby. Do not fear! Having sex is usually not dangerous during pregnancy. Although your body has changed, you can still have a sex life. Whether your first child or fourth, you can find a way to have satisfactory relationships. By putting yourself at ease, taking the essential precautions and resuming sexual activity after birth, you will be able to blossom sexually during this period.

Having Pleasant Sex:

Use a lot of lubricant during sex

For more enjoyable sex during pregnancy, try an intimate lubricant. The hormonal upheavals due to pregnancy could cause you to be more or less naturally lubricated. To avoid pain during intercourse, use as much lubricant as needed to feel comfortable [1] .

  • You will be able to buy an intimate lubricant online, in a pharmacy or supermarket.
  • Look for a water-based product and avoid those containing dyes or fragrances, which could be irritating [2] .

Try lying on the side

Lye down and ask your partner to come in from behind. Thanks to this position, you will not support your growing stomach and your body will be well supported while lying down [3] .

  • This position allows for shallower penetration, which is often more pleasant for pregnant women.

Try the positions where the woman is above

Climb on your partner, so you can control the speed and depth of penetration. By controlling the action, you will be able to determine what suits you best [4] .

Try the positions from behind

On all fours, ask your partner to penetrate you from behind. You can place a pillow or two under your belly, for more support [5] .

Use other forms of intimacy

If the penetration is painful or scary, get closer to your partner through massage, masturbation, oral sex or other forms of sexual activity. To feel close to each other, you could also organize a special romantic evening at home, with candles, a movie and lots of hugs.

  • Communicate regularly with your partner to discuss how you feel and what you need to feel supported. You have every right not to want to make love.
  • You could say, “You know, my back hurts and I do not want to make love tonight. I know we talked about having a fulfilling intimate life. Can I give you a massage instead? I want you to feel special. “

Call your doctor

In case of disturbing symptoms, call your doctor. During pregnancy, it is normal to experience cramps during intercourse, especially during orgasm. However, if you notice persistent bleeding, fluid leakage or pain after intercourse, consult your doctor for a check-up. This will determine if you can continue to have safe sex for the rest of your pregnancy [7] .

Having safe sex during pregnancy:

Consult your doctor

If you are at risk, talk to your doctor. If you notice unexplained vaginal bleeding, and amniotic fluid leak from your vagina, if you are expecting more babies, or have had a premature birth, talk to your doctor. It could also diagnose a placenta previa, which means that the placenta obstructs the cervix. These conditions may make you more vulnerable to complications and it may be advisable to let your pelvic floor rest [8]

Use condoms

If you have a new partner or are not monogamous, take precautions during your pregnancy, using condoms and dental dams. Bacterial and viral infections due to sexually transmitted diseases could affect your pregnancy and the development of your baby [9] .

Avoid lying flat on your back

Avoid lying on your back in the first and second trimesters. In this position, your swollen uterus presses on a main artery of the body, which could reduce blood supply to your baby and make you feel dizzy [10] .

Avoid sex during the third trimester of pregnancy

If you have herpes, avoid sex during the third trimester. If your partner has cold sores (HSV1) or genital herpes (HSV2), try other forms of intimate sex. Herpes can cause neonatal herpes in the baby when a mother who has no antibodies is infected for the first time while she is pregnant. If herpes is a minor inconvenience to adults, it can be fatal in infants [12] .

  • People with oral herpes (cold sores) can transfer the virus to the genitals of their partner during an oral report, especially when they have active pimples. A pregnant woman shouldn’t have oral sex [13] .
  • If you and your partner have the same type of herpes, you may have safe vaginal or oral sex in the third trimester. If you do not know if you have ever had herpes, you can have a blood test [14] .

Having sex after childbirth:

Wait until your doctor gives you the green signal

Whether you have a cesarean birth or vaginal birth, your doctor will examine you to make sure you do not have any complications before you can start a new sex life. This examination is usually done 6 weeks after the birth of the child. Depending on the progress of the examination, your doctor will give you or not, the green light for a resumption of sexual intercourse [16] .

  • In the meantime, you can use kisses, massages and mutual masturbation to be intimate with your partner.

Use a lot of lubricants

Use an intimate water-based lubricant to make your postpartum reports more enjoyable. If you breastfeed your child, your body will produce little estrogen, which can cause vaginal dryness [17] .

  • If you have had a tear at the time of your child’s birth, the use of a lubricant will be especially recommended.

Use a method of contraception

After giving birth, use condoms, a low-dose oral contraceptive, or another method of contraception recommended by your doctor. If some women take some time to ovulate again after giving birth, especially if they are breastfeeding, others will ovulate right away. If you prefer not to fall pregnant right away, you will need to take your precautions [18] .

  • Some hormonal pills combined are not recommended during breastfeeding because the hormones will pass into the milk. During your postpartum check-up, ask your doctor for the appropriate contraceptive options.

Tips

To get closer to your partner during your pregnancy, talk about your fears and problems.

Warnings

If your doctor advises against having sex during pregnancy, follow his recommendations.

In this Article

In this Article

In this Article

  • Is Sex Safe During Pregnancy?
  • When Not to Have Sex During Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Sex
  • Sex After Pregnancy
  • Can I Get Pregnant Again if I Am Breastfeeding?

Pregnant women and their partners often wonder if it’s safe to have sex during pregnancy. Will it cause a miscarriage? Will it harm the unborn baby? Are there sex positions to avoid? Here’s what to know.

Is Sex Safe During Pregnancy?

Sex is a natural, normal part of pregnancy — if you’re having a normal pregnancy. Penetration and intercourse’s movement won’t harm the baby, who is protected by your abdomen and the uterus’ muscular walls. Your baby is also cushioned by the amniotic sac’s fluid.

The contractions of orgasm aren’t the same as labor contractions. Still, as a general safety precaution, some doctors advise avoiding sex in the final weeks of pregnancy, believing that hormones in semen called prostaglandins can stimulate contractions. One exception may be for women who are overdue and want to induce labor. Some doctors believe that prostaglandins in semen actually induce labor in a full-term or past-due pregnancy, since the gel used to “ripen” the cervix and induce labor also contains prostaglandins. But other doctors think that this semen/labor connection is only a theory and that having sex doesn’t trigger labor.

When Not to Have Sex During Pregnancy

Talk with your doctor about whether it’s safe to have sex while you’re pregnant. They may advise you not to have sex if you have any of the following types of high-risk pregnancy:

  • You’re at risk for miscarriage or history of past miscarriages
  • You’re at risk for preterm labor (contractions before 37 weeks of pregnancy)
  • You’re having vaginal bleeding, discharge, or cramping without a known cause
  • Your amniotic sac is leaking fluid or has ruptured membranes
  • Your cervix has opened too early in pregnancy
  • Your placenta is too low in the uterus (placenta previa)
  • You’re expecting twins, triplets, or other “multiples”

Keep in mind that if your doctor says “no sex,” that may include anything that involves orgasm or sexual arousal, not just intercourse. Discuss it so you’re clear on what they mean.

Call your doctor if you have unusual symptoms during or after sex, such as:

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Fluid or discharge
  • Significant discomfort
  • Contractions

Continued

Pregnancy Sex

Every woman’s experiences during pregnancy are different — including how they feel about sex.

For some, desire fades during pregnancy. Other women feel more deeply connected to their sexuality and more aroused when they’re pregnant.

During pregnancy, it’s normal for sexual desire to come and go as your body changes. You may feel self-conscious as your belly grows. Or you may feel sexier with larger, fuller breasts. Not having to worry about birth control is another perk.

Here’s a common pattern of libido during pregnancy:

  • First trimester. Nausea, fatigue, or breast tenderness may kill your sex drive. But don’t worry; it will come back.
  • Second trimester. Your libido may kick into high gear. In fact, increased blood flow throughout your body can enhance your orgasms.
  • Third trimester. Sex may feel uncomfortable as birth approaches.

Tell your partner what you’re feeling and what works. You may need to play with positions, especially later in pregnancy, to find one that’s both comfortable and stimulating for you. If something doesn’t feel right for either of you, change what you’re doing and talk to your OB about any physical problems.

Avoid lying flat on your back in the “missionary position” for sex after the fourth month of pregnancy. That way, you can avoid the weight of the growing baby constricting major blood vessels.

Get on top or lie on your side, with your partner behind. Or get on your hands and knees, with your partner kneeling behind. These positions reduce pressure on your belly.

Use a lubricant if vaginal dryness makes sex uncomfortable.

Enjoy intimacy in other ways. Cuddle, kiss, or massage each other. Enjoy a bubble bath together.

As always, if you’re not absolutely sure about your partner’s sexual history, use condoms. Pregnancy doesn’t protect against sexually transmitted infections — such as HIV, herpes, genital warts, or chlamydia — and those infections can affect your baby.

Sex After Pregnancy

The first six weeks after delivery are called the postpartum period. Sex during this time may be the last thing on your mind. You may have less desire because of:

  • Healing from an episiotomy (incision during vaginal delivery)
  • Healing from abdominal incisions after cesarean birth
  • Normal postpartum bleeding, common for 4 to 6 weeks after birth
  • Fatigue after pregnancy and the birthing process
  • Demands of your newborn (increased if you had twins or triplets)
  • Changing hormone levels
  • Sore breasts from breastfeeding
  • Emotional issues, such as postpartum blues, anxiety over parenting, or relationship issues with the father

Continued

Intercourse is generally safe after any incisions have fully healed and you feel the delicate tissues of your vagina have healed. This healing usually takes several weeks. You can ask your doctor what they recommend. Most doctors will say to wait at least 6 weeks after delivery before intercourse. Equally important is feeling emotionally ready, physically comfortable, and relaxed.

After pregnancy, some women notice a lack of vaginal lubrication. A water-based lubricant can ease the discomfort of vaginal dryness during sex.

For both you and your partner, patience is a virtue. Given the realities and stresses of early parenthood, it can take up to a year for a couple’s normal sex life to return in full bloom.

Can I Get Pregnant Again if I Am Breastfeeding?

Women who breastfeed have a delay in ovulation — when an egg is released from the ovary — and menstruation. But ovulation will happen before you start having periods again. So you can still get pregnant during this time. Follow your health care provider’s recommendations on birth control.

Sources

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: “Sexuality and Sexual Problems,” “Preterm Labor,” “Especially for Fathers.”

Nemours Foundation: “Sex During Pregnancy.”

March of Dimes: “Sex During Pregnancy.”

University of California at San Francisco Children’s Hospital: “Sex During Pregnancy.”

Mayo Clinic: “Sex during pregnancy: What’s OK, what’s not.”

How to have sex during pregnancy

It is completely safe for a woman to continue having sex throughout her pregnancy unless her doctor or midwife has told her otherwise. In fact, a woman’s sex drive may increase at certain stages of the pregnancy, and sex can have some benefits.

As her belly starts to grow bigger, a woman may discover that certain positions are more comfortable for her. Talking openly about sex can help both partners to enjoy sex throughout the pregnancy.

In this article, we examine safety issues and risks and look at tips for sex during pregnancy. We also discuss when to avoid sex, and how sex may change during the second and third trimesters.

Sex will not harm the baby at any stage during a typical, uncomplicated pregnancy. The baby is protected by strong uterus muscles, amniotic fluid, and a mucus plug that develops around the cervix.

Some people believe that sexual activity or orgasms might damage the baby, increase the chances of a miscarriage, or induce early labor. However, in a healthy pregnancy, none of these are true.

Can sex trigger labor?

How to have sex during pregnancy
Vaginal sex during pregnancy has no links to an increased risk of a premature birth.

Many studies have concluded that vaginal sex during pregnancy has no links an increased risk of preterm labor or premature birth. However, if a doctor considers someone to be at high risk, they may recommend that the person avoids sexual intercourse during the pregnancy or just in the later stages.

It is possible that an orgasm or sexual penetration could induce Braxton Hicks contractions late in pregnancy.

Braxton Hicks are mild contractions that some women experience towards the end of their pregnancy. However, these contractions do not indicate or induce labor so should not be a cause for concern.

Best positions

During the later stages of pregnancy, people should choose positions that do not put pressure on the pregnant belly, such as the missionary position. If a woman lies on her back, the weight of the baby might put extra pressure on her internal organs or major arteries.

A pregnant woman might feel more comfortable in positions where she can control the depth and speed of penetration.

Comfortable positions may include the pregnant woman being on top of her partner, side-by-side spooning, or sitting at the edge of the bed.

Oral and anal sex

Oral sex is perfectly safe to continue throughout pregnancy. However, a partner should avoid blowing air into the pregnant woman’s vagina as this can cause an air embolism, where an air bubble blocks a blood vessel. Though rare, an air embolism could be life-threatening for both the woman and the baby.

Anal sex will not harm the baby, but it may be uncomfortable if a person has pregnancy-related hemorrhoids. People should avoid anal sex followed by vaginal sex, as this could cause bacteria to spread from the rectum to the vagina resulting in infection.

A midwife or doctor may advise a woman to avoid sexual intercourse during her pregnancy if she has experienced the following:

  • problems with the cervix that could increase the likelihood of miscarriage or going into early labor
  • pregnancy with twins
  • placenta previa, where the placenta partially or entirely covers the entrance to the cervix
  • cervical incompetence, where the cervix opens prematurely
  • a history of going into premature labor
  • substantial blood loss or unexplained vaginal bleeding
  • leaking amniotic fluid
  • the waters have broken, which may increase the risk of infection

It is essential that a pregnant woman protects herself and her baby from sexually transmitted infections (STIs). This means using barrier contraception, such as condoms or dental dams, during all sexual activity with new sexual partners.

How to have sex during pregnancy
A boost of hormones may increase a person’s sex drive, particularly in the second trimester.

Pregnancy affects people’s sex drives in different ways and there is no typical response.

A boost of hormones and increased blood flow to the genitals may increase a person’s sex drive, particularly in the second trimester.

Other people may experience a decrease in their sex drive caused by fluctuating hormones, feeling less comfortable in their body, decreased energy levels, or physical pains.

Pregnancy can also affect the sex drive of a pregnant person’s partner. Some people may experience an increased attraction to their pregnant partner due to the changes in their body shape, such as an increase in breast size.

In some cases, the worries and strains felt by both partners can make them less interested in sex. It is essential to be open about sex to make sure both partners are comfortable.

Sex during pregnancy can have some benefits for a pregnant woman and her partner. Possible benefits include:

  • Better orgasms. Increased blood flow to the genitals could mean an increased number of more powerful orgasms for pregnant women.
  • Keeping fit. Sex burns calories and can help to keep both partners fit.
  • Bonding between partners. Some couples find that sexual activity during pregnancy brings them closer together.
  • A boost to the immune system. A 2004 study found that sex increases IgA which is an antibody that helps keep colds and other infections at bay.
  • Increased happiness. Orgasms release endorphins that can help mother and baby feel happy and relaxed.

All new mothers need time to heal and recover after giving birth. They should allow time for the body to recover, the cervix to close, postpartum bleeding to stop, and if applicable, their C-section incisions or vaginal tears to heal.

Women can return to sexual activity whenever they feel they are ready to do so. The exhaustion and energy spent looking after the new addition to the family might mean that a woman does not want to have sex for some time after childbirth.

In a healthy pregnancy, sex is not associated with any risks to the mother or baby. Whether related to sex or not, if a woman experiences any unusual pain or bleeding during pregnancy, she should contact her doctor right away.

In most cases, sex during pregnancy poses no risk to the mother or baby. Some positions might become more or less comfortable as the pregnancy progresses.

A woman may experience changes in her desire for sex during and after pregnancy. Speaking openly and honestly with sexual partners can help people to continue to have a healthy sex life throughout pregnancy.

Last medically reviewed on February 22, 2019

Gone off sex now that you’re pregnant? While this is perfectly normal, there are benefits to pregnancy sex. Here, experts share their tips for getting in the mood.

Feeling exhausted, queasy, and uncomfortable in your ever-changing body isn’t exactly a recipe for romance. (“Not tonight, honey, I’ve got to throw up!”) But the physical changes of pregnancy can also set the stage for amazing sex. Increased blood flow can give you a spectacular sensitivity in all your erogenous zones. “Just about everything is more sensitive – lips, vagina, clitoris, and breasts,” says sex educator Lou Paget, author of Hot Mamas: The Ultimate Guide To Staying Sexy Throughout Your Pregnancy And The Months Beyond.

Plus, staying connected with your partner is more important than ever, since your baby will depend on your united front for love and stability. “Pregnant women with strong healthy relationships lead to healthier behaviors during pregnancy and better birth outcomes,” explains Brett Worly, MD, an Ob-Gyn and female sexual dysfunction expert at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus. New York City-based sex therapist Madeleine Castellanos, MD, adds that intimacy helps provide feelings of happiness, pleasure, closeness, and vitality.

  • RELATED:Your Complete Guide to Pregnancy Sex

Here’s how to take advantage of everything pregnancy has to offer in the bedroom.

Take It Slow

If you’re feeling anxious about pregnancy sex, don’t sweat it. “Pregnancy is not a time to pressure a woman into sex, make her feel bad about her body, or make her feel guilty if her libido is not as strong as it once was,” Worly says. “Increasing desire and emotional connection can be really helpful in any person and at any time, and pregnancy is no exception.” He recommends studying up with books such as Rekindling Desire or Passionate Marriage. Then, try focusing on what gives pleasure, be it a foot massage (which increases oxytocin and arousal), or self-pleasuring.

Take Advantage of Your Second Trimester

During pregnancy, sex may come to a grinding halt, especially at first. “Usually women are much less amorous during their first trimester simply because they just don’t feel well,” says Castellanos. The good news? Many women feel better during the second trimester, so it’s worth getting in as much as you can those three months, since the third trimester brings further obstacles (hello, huge bump!).

Put Matter Over Mind

Impediments to intercourse are often more than just physical. “Body parts that were usually used mostly for sexual intimacy now have implications beyond that role, as motherhood approaches,” Worly explains. You may also worry (unnecessarily) that intercourse will harm the baby. “The design of a woman’s body is such that a baby is well protected in the uterus during pregnancy. Because of the cervix, the penis cannot touch the baby and so cannot hurt the baby at all! Sexual activity is no more dangerous or disturbing for a fetus than the woman riding in a car over potholes or a speed bump,” Castellanos reassures. “I recommend that partners focus on what is most erotic for them in order to fill their mind with sexy thoughts rather than anxious thoughts that will keep them disconnected from their own arousal.”

  • RELATED:The Best Positions for Sex During Pregnancy

No Screens in Bed

Ditching distracting technology from the bedroom can help boost your one-to-one time. After all, physical intimacy grows out of an emotional connection, Worly says: “Optimally couples would have 30-60 minutes daily to connect in an uninterrupted, screen-free zone.”

Cultivate a Dirty Mind

Thinking about sex – even when you’re not in the middle of it – will keep you in the right frame of mind when you are. “It’s vital that couples create space for the erotic in their lives – both with time set aside for sex and closeness, as well as with mental attention devoted to positive thoughts about sex,” Castellanos says.

  • RELATED:Safe Sex Positions During Pregnancy That Still Offer Serious Pleasure

Use Lube

Pregnancy hormones can cause vaginal dryness, according to Castellanos. “When couples are ready for intimacy, using a lubricant will help make things more pleasurable and erotic,” she says.

Find the Right Position

Be sure to find a comfortable position for sex – and getting creative with pillows helps! “Usually laying on her left side will be the most comfortable without decreasing circulation to the baby,” Castellanos advises.

Third Trimester Sex Less Frequent, but Nearly 40% of Pregnant Women Have Sex in Birth Week

Feb. 23, 2010 — Sex during pregnancy: What do women really do?

Sexual intercourse is safe throughout a normal pregnancy. That’s what the experts say — but to find out what pregnant women really experience, why not ask the women themselves?

That’s just what sex researchers Joana Rocha Pauleta, MD, and colleagues did. They gave anonymous, structured questionnaires to 188 women who had just given birth at Santa Maria University Hospital in Lisbon, Portugal.

Pauleta and colleagues did not interview women for whom sex during pregnancy would have been risky: those with placenta previa, multiple fetuses, cervical incompetence, or risk of premature labor.

Here’s what they learned from the women, who ranged in age from 17 to 40 (average age 29):

  • Nearly a quarter of the women had feared that vaginal intercourse would harm their baby, but only three of the women ended up postponing intercourse until their babies were born. Two of these three women engaged in other forms of sexual activity.
  • 80% of women reported some kind of sexual activity during their third trimester. And, 39% reported sexual intercourse during their birth week.
  • Frequency of sexual activity did not drop off for most women until their third trimester, although about 10% said they had sex more often during their third trimester than during their first or second.
  • Nearly all of the women who were sexually active during pregnancy reported vaginal intercourse; 38% reported oral sex (either fellatio or cunnilingus), 20% reported masturbation, and 7% reported anal intercourse.
  • About 39% of women said they desired sex during pregnancy as much as they did before they were pregnant. About a third of women said they had less sexual desire while pregnant.
  • About half of the women said sex during pregnancy was just as satisfying as it was before. About 28% said it was less satisfying.
  • 41.5% of the women said they felt less attractive or sensual while pregnant. Yet, 75% said their partners did not find them any less desirable.
  • Three-fourths of the women reported no sexual problems, but others did. Problems included low desire, painful sex, inability to orgasm, and difficulty in lubrication. Despite these issues, only 11% of women said they felt the need to speak with their doctors about sex during pregnancy.

Continued

Might the women’s cultural background have affected their experiences? Almost certainly. Pauleta and colleagues note that previous studies found that many women in Pakistan and Nigeria believe sex during pregnancy widens the vagina and makes childbirth easier, and that many women in Iran believed sex during pregnancy would blind the child or rupture a female fetus’s hymen.

In a comment on the study, Irwin Goldstein, MD, director of sexual medicine at San Diego’s Alvarado Hospital, stressed the importance of continuing sexual intimacy during pregnancy.

“Having vaginal sex will not negatively impact a pregnancy,” Goldstein said in a news release. “However, many pregnant couples are reluctant to participate in sexual activity as they enter the third trimester for fear of hurting the child. It’s a common misconception that needs to be addressed more often and openly.”

The Pauleta study appears in the February issue of The Journal of Sexual Medicine. Goldstein is editor-in-chief of the journal.