Sex During Pregnancy: Everything You Need To Know

Is it safe to have sex during pregnancy? Are there times when sex should be avoided? Can your orgasm trigger premature labor? Here’s what you need to know.

Is it safe to have sex during pregnancy? Are there times when sex should be avoided? Can your orgasm trigger premature labor? Here's what you need to know.

So you’re pregnant (congratulations!) and you’re wondering if you can continue to have sex during pregnancy as you normally do. And what about sex after pregnancy?

Read on, mama. Read on. ?

Is it safe to have sex during pregnancy?

Most women who are healthy and low risk can continue to have sex during pregnancy without worry. The strong muscles of the uterine wall and the amniotic sac protect baby very well. The thick mucus plug that covers your cervix during pregnancy also protects the baby from infection.

Sex in early pregnancy

Some expectant parents worry that sex during pregnancy, particularly the first trimester, might cause a miscarriage. Early miscarriages are usually because of a chromosomal abnormality in baby or hormonal imbalances in mom, and having sex or performing other normal behaviors won’t prevent this.

Keep in mind, some mamas won’t even want sex in first trimester due to nausea, morning sickness and intense fatigue. This will most likely pass and you will resume to your normal sex life in the “magic middle” of pregnancy. Talk to your partner to find ways to meet intimacy needs during this time.

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Sex in late pregnancy

With a bigger belly, sex can become more difficult late in the third trimester. Get creative with positions or find other ways to be intimate and close to your partner.

Keep in mind that semen contains prostaglandins, which are known to soften the cervix. Softening the cervix “ripens” and opens it, when, and only when, all biological factors are ready for delivery in normal, low-risk pregnancies. So don’t worry that having sex will create an early labor.

Nipple stimulation can also work. The hormone Oxytocin is released during nipple stimulation. This is the same hormone used by hospitals to induce labor or during a caesarian.

These two tactics can help naturally induce a mama over 40 weeks. Of course talk to your doctor and/or midwife on what’s best for you.

Benefits of sex during pregnancy

In fact, sex during pregnancy can have many advantages:

  • It can provide protection from colds. A study found that sex boosts levels of IgA, an antibody that helps boost immune response.
  • Orgasms during pregnancy strengthen the pelvic floor and uterine walls, which is good for labor and faster postpartum recovery.
  • Can lower your blood pressure and stress level.
  • It’s a good workout. Sex can increase your heart rate and uses various muscles which burns calories.
  • And increased blood flow can mean better orgasms, more orgasms, and more interest in sex.

Is it safe for my partner to give me oral sex?

Yes, we’re going there 🙂 And yes, for the most part, oral sex during pregnancy is fine. However, there are some exceptions. If your partner has oral herpes he should not give you oral sex while he has an active outbreak or at all in the third trimester (outbreak or not). If your partner is HIV positive or you are unsure of his HIV status you may want to abstain from oral sex. Though the risk of contracting HIV from oral sex is low, it is still a possibility and, if contracted, HIV can easily be passed to your baby.

And a random fact: Do not let your partner blow into your vagina. It can (very rarely) result in an air embolism, which is dangerous for both you and baby.

Is it okay to use lubrication when I’m pregnant?

Sure, but we do have a recommendation for you. We’re not crazy about conventional lube products, as they can irritate both partners. And of course, why place chemicals inside you when you’re carrying a baby?

If you’re using condoms, it’s important to use a conventional, water-based lube as opposed to an oil-based lubrication.

But if you’re pregnant and in a monogamous relationship, you’re probably not bothering with condoms. In which case, we recommend using good ol’ olive oil as a lubrication. It’s natural, healing to the skin, convenient, and works like a charm.

Can orgasms trigger premature labor?

Nope. Orgasms can cause uterine contractions but these contractions are normal and not like the ones you will feel during labor. In fact, uterine contractions after sex indicate you have a strong uterus which is very reassuring when you are going to be delivering a baby soon.

Are there times when sex should be avoided during pregnancy?

Your doctor or midwife might recommend abstaining from sex during pregnancy, also called pelvic rest, if:

  • You have a history of preterm labor or premature birth
  • You have unexplained vaginal bleeding
  • Your cervix begins to open prematurely (cervical insufficiency)
  • Your placenta partly or completely covers your cervix (placenta previa)
  • Your membranes have ruptured or you’re leaking amniotic fluid
  • Your cervix is dilated

My sex drive has changed since I got pregnant. Is this normal?

Absolutely. Due to the physical and emotional changes you’re experiencing it’s completely normal to be totally uninterested in sex during pregnancy, extra interested or anything in between. It’s also possible that you will experience all of those at different times throughout the pregnancy!

Though desire may fluctuate, many women report having more satisfying sex during pregnancy. One reason is the extra blood flow to the pelvic area which can intensify sensation and orgasm. Another might be that many women have a better self image while pregnant and find it easier to relax and enjoy sex. Yes, it’s true! Many women feel more confident with a baby bump than they did pre-pregnancy.

After the baby is born, how soon can I have sex?

Most doctors and midwives suggest waiting 6 weeks postpartum to resume having sex. Whether you had a vaginal or cesarean birth (ideally a gentle cesarean), your body needs time to heal.

During the first weeks postpartum your cervix is closing and your uterine lining is healing. The slowing and ending of the flow of lochia signals that healing has finished or is almost finished. If you didn’t have any tearing and your bleeding has stopped before 6 weeks, your doctor or midwife may give you the go ahead to resume sexual intercourse. If you did have tearing or an episiotomy, and especially if you needed stitches, you’ll want to wait until those are fully healed so you may be advised to wait until your 6 week postpartum appointment to be sure the stitches and laceration have healed.

That being said, many women aren’t ready for intercourse at 6 weeks postpartum. Some continue to feel discomfort or pain for a few months (consult your doctor if you have concerns). Though intercourse may be off limits for a short time, it’s completely safe for you to reach orgasm in other ways.

Other women just don’t feel emotionally ready for intimacy yet. The stress and exhaustion of a new baby, coupled with constant breastfeeding, can make finding time for sex or the desire for sex next to impossible. Some women need to feel like their body is their own for awhile. Keep communicating with your partner about how you’re feeling and find ways to meet each others intimacy needs in other ways for now.

References

Genevieve Howland

About the Author

Genevieve Howland is a childbirth educator and breastfeeding advocate. She is the bestselling author of The Mama Natural Week-by-Week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth and creator of the Mama Natural Birth Course. A mother of three, graduate of the University of Colorado, and YouTuber with over 85,000,000 views, she helps mothers and moms-to-be lead healthier and more natural lives.

19 Comments

  1. Hi guys I’m 14 weeks preagnent nd its my first preagnent bt I can’t hear my baby moving I wander why
    Or what should I do to hear my baby moving

  2. I remember watching you for the first time on YouTube…you taught me all about healthy POOP!
    ?✊?
    And now here I am pregnant with number 4 and scrolling through the internet and I’ve stumbled across you again. I really appreciate how educated you are and your zeal to share with others ? thanks for this also, I’m 17 weeks along and sex is becoming a bit of a rubix cube.

  3. I really enjoy and look forward to my posts. It’s like I can’t get enough, since I like reading so much but here’s the thing…my husband and I, well he had been unfaithful to me but now I’m pregnant but just don’t have sexual feelings for him. But I want to have sex so badly and often think about doing it with someone else but I don’t want to. I want to have sex with my husband but now it seams like he doesn’t want to have sex with me either. Is it OK to use a dildoh? I don’t have one but just asking or should I just stick with clitorial stimulation? But I really want to feel it inside of me. Elisia.

    • Poor girl…I understand and can completely empathize. My ex husband and I went through this when I was pregnant with my third. (It was good for us to divorce!) But, if even a small piece of both of you believe you can salvage your love, even though your reflex after such emotional trauma is to withdraw, it would be more conducive to saving your marriage to reignite the intimacy. If not in the bedroom then in other ways. Try showing love and affection in small gestures like taking his plate to the sink for him when he is done eating his meal and laying his clothes out for work the night before. These are small things that require much selflessness. I yearned for my husband to WANT me and to crave me again like he did in the beginning. In order to regain this, you must remember what it took in the beginning to win him over. Never stop trying to win him over! And also, now that you feel like you have lost a competition that you didn’t realize you signed up for, show your competition that YOU are the one who he loved first and all she is is just a piece of slutty ass. (Which by the way is not impressive) When you are old and grey and the sex dries up (and eventually it does for everyone) then where will your bond with your husband lie? Your bond, your intimacy, must originate from friendship, from companionship. Sex is just sex…until you do it with your best friend. So make your husband your best friend ? my heart goes out to you. I hope that you both can renew your love for one another and gladly welcome this baby as partners together. I also hope that when reading this you were encouraged and did not in any way feel like I minimized your situation.

  4. Good article, hilarious comments (in some cases)! I’m 17 weeks into my second viable pregnancy (two mc’s between) and my sex drive is mediocre still. My first pregnancy, I was all about sex, all the time, even to the point of leaving work early one day to go pounce on my husband! We were VERY busy that pregnancy, and it was the. Best. Sex. EVER! Every time, awesome sex, easy orgasm… Lord knows, I wish it would have stayed that way. My sex drive crashed after my son was born, there was so much stress in our lives and everything was unsettled. Fast forward five years later… I’m thinking I might have a girl this time because my sex drive has hardly perked up!

    Have any of you noticed a big difference in your sex drive depending on if you are having a boy or girl?

  5. I am 17 weeks pregnant with twins. Any idea if it is still safe or should precautions be taken?

  6. Hey, I have a question. I’m at 18 weeks right now, and since I’ve been pregnant penetration has really been painful. Like burning painful. I’m 99% sure I don’t have any infections, because I’ve had them before and I know how to recognize both a yeast infection and BV. I have no itching or burning or smelliness or clumpy discharge– nothing abnormal. Except that it hurts to have sex. I had almost no sex drive my first trimester, but now in my second trimester, my sex drive has gone up, and I want it so badly! My sweet husband is really caring…sorry if this is TMI (but I know it’s going to be a question), I am always orgasmic before entry. So I know the problem isn’t that we’re going too fast. I’ve tried using different types of lubes and it doesn’t help. I’m living in a developing country where this kind of information is hard to get from a doctor– but I feel like I’m seriously dysfunctional and am wondering if this is ever experienced by other pregnant women, or if there is a solution!!

    • Also, I did not have this problem prior to pregnancy, except on rare occasions when I was really dry

    • Hey. It is normal to feel dry. I experienced as well. There are some lotions to use. And lubrification is needed.
      My doctor prevent me it will happen and there will be times like this and to don’t panic.
      Good luck!

  7. You didn’t really touch on what to do if you and your partner are both wanting sex, but totally turned off by the belly in the way. I’m only 17 weeks, but the belly is already more than big enough to be in the way and it’s killing our magic so to speak.

    • This is a question that really doesn’t have a “one for all” kind of an answer, but I’ll try. Wherever you think that magic lies (or used to lie), which is certainly different for each person and each couple, it is not going to stay there for a lifetime, anyway, whether you are pregnant or not. It shifts occasionally, and this does not necessarily involve changes in your body or lifestyle. Sometimes, it is just not there any more… and you have to experiment to find out where it has relocated to. For example, I am currently in my 3rd pregnancy and enjoying morning sex which I have never liked before (my husband is happy). However, the spooning position that worked well for us during the 2nd pregnancy feels absolutely uncomfortable now, just as anything like me lying on the edge of the bed or couch or table – while I still can remember how I loved this kind of thing when I was pregnant 8 years ago. Right now I love being on top, and the rear-entry positions with the kind of penetration that is slow-paced and not too deep. Who knew) Well, I hope you get the idea – your magic is most likely elsewhere now, and your belly isn’t to blame. I am 28 weeks, and I still don’t think my belly is huge – but maybe it’s just becase I know it’s going to get way bigger later. However, if you really think it may be visually off-turning, try wearing something that conceals it – a kimono-style blouse, or babydoll-type lingerie that enhances your breasts and hides your belly. Having sex when not completely naked can be even more exciting than otherwise. If it makes you feel like a sex goddess, it’s well worth it.

  8. What a fun read! 😉 I’m glad you didn’t go there with the whole “Put yourself in labor with sex!” because girl, we went at it like rabbits towards the end and I was still nearly two weeks late. However, I DO think nipple stimulation (using a pump) and pressure point therapy (ankles, bottom of the spine) worked well, but who knows!!

  9. Thanks for going there! Some feedback: you may consider editing some pronouns to include same sex couples. A great deal of the sex you describe goes beyond heterosexual relationships. Thanks!

    • Obviously Genevieve and Mike are not obligated to write a blog post including same sex couples, it was simply a suggestion… Maybe they just haven’t thought about it. (even thought partner sounds very including)

      It’s true they haven’t experienced it, but neither did they have a c-section and they discuss it anyway… And actually these tips work pretty much for any couple expecting a baby.

      Homosexual parents don’t need a different blog.

      Sex is sex, parents are parents.

    • she wasn’t being biased at all in her entire article, she used the word partner more than anything she didn’t just say “husband” my sister and her wife have a child from invetro and still were intimate i’m sure. regardless of sexuality preference I think the article was well written and not singled out to any type of relationship. and either way most articles are written in a heterosexual reference, do I agree with it no, but I don’t put that much thought into it, because it doesn’t mean one is being homophobic or biased just simply stating medical facts a lot of time especially about sex. just keep an open mind honestly. I have a lot of homosexual people in my family and I can tell you right now. opinions are an will always be out there.

    • I hear you, Laura L.: I think Genevieve genuinely tries hard to be as inclusive as possible (she’s devotedly so in her book, not a single presumptive pronoun). But there are a couple of goofs in this post (“husband” vs. partner, etc.) that surprised me, as well, because of her more typically inclusive tone. I appreciate your bringing your open-hearted listening to the conversation. It’s healthy food for thought for everyone here. <3

  10. Okay. Since we’re “going there.” I have always wanted to know…

    Is there some appeal to having someone BLOW INTO one’s vagina? I have read the info on not letting someone do that previously, and I’m just… what?! WHO is doing this? And why?! Am I missing out on something here? It just sounds incredibly uncomfortable to me, but I have seen it mentioned enough times now to assume it is a thing…

    • It’s just a sensation, like anything else with oral sex. Try blowing lightly on your arm – see how it gives a tickling feeling? I think you’d have to be blowing pretty hard for it to result in an air embolism, though, in which case I don’t understand the appeal. You never know what some people are into!

      • Now see… blowing ON it I could see. Or even blowing into it lightly without necessarily having your lips right up on it. But I’m picturing to cause an embolism, dude would have to pucker up, put his lips right against it, and just BlOW like you’re trying to inflate a balloon. That is the image I always have pop into my head. Probably many descriptions I’ve seen say not to let a partner blow FORCEFULLY into your vagina, and I’m like “No worries there.”


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