Everybody’s different when it comes to sex during pregnancy. For some women, it’s off limits – sore boobs and nausea call for sleep, not sex. For others, it’s liberating to be able to have sex purely for fun and it can be incredibly enjoyable. Thanks to increased blood flow to the pelvic region boosting sensitivity of the vagina and clitoris, some women report better or more frequent orgasms, while some climax for the very first time while pregnant.
In the mood for sex?
There’s also the issue of self-confidence when it comes to sex. Some women feel at their most beautiful when they’re with child, others not so much, and this can affect how their sex lives play out. “Some women feel increasingly like beached whales and are extremely disappointed they don’t look like Heidi Klum when they’re pregnant. But some feel supersonic when they’re pregnant, they feel like Venus, no matter how many varicose veins or stretch marks they sprout,” says GP and sex therapist Dr Amelia Haines.
Your partner’s reactions to your changing body plays a role, too. According to sexual health therapist Matty Silver, a supportive partner is more likely to boost your confidence – and sex drive! “If he can’t keep his hands off your belly and is telling you ‘I love you like this’, then that’s going to give you the confidence and inclination to feel sexy and want sex,” she says.
Getting it on
While hormonal and emotional fluctuations are behind a pregnant woman’s unpredictable sexual state, experts say that, medically, there’s nothing stopping you from doing the deed. “Sex during pregnancy is safe and you can continue to have sex right up until your waters break,” Matty says. “Provided you’re healthy and feeling well, you can have as much sex as you like without worry, as the baby is protected by the amniotic fluid and a thick mucous plug sealing the cervix.” And remember, as Dr Haines says, “No sexual activity will dislodge an embryo. They’re very good at snuggling into the uterine lining and holding on for dear life!”
There are, however, a couple of scenarios that do need to be discussed with your doctor before you get busy in the sack, she warns. “Some women have a rare condition called placenta praevia, which means the placenta is lying over the cervix, and the thrusting involved in intercourse may be risky. Also, if your partner has herpes and you don’t, you want to practice safe sex so your unborn child isn’t exposed to it.”
So, with that knowledge, how best to enjoy sex with a big baby belly? Use your imagination and experiment! Or read the tried-and-tested positions that follow…
WOMAN ON TOP
“Only you will know what feels good for your body, but this position is generally very safe and comfortable,” says Matty Silver. Here, you straddle your partner while he lies on the bed, taking in the glorious view of your pregnant belly. This is a great position during pregnancy as you’re in control of the depth of penetration, the speed (you can go as fast or slow as you like) and the movement.
This position has you and your partner lying on your sides facing one another. Lying on your back is best avoided, according to Dr Haines. “When a pregnant woman is lying on her back – for sleep or for sex – the baby can suppress her vena cava, the big vein running through the abdomen, which can make her feel quite faint. Instead, it’s a good idea to be tilted to one side, slightly rolled over,” she says. Try pulling one leg up to allow room for your partner. This position is a winner because it keeps weight off your abdomen but supports your uterus at the same time. And it’s intimate, too, giving more belly visibility than some other getting-busy positions do.
This position requires you and your partner to lie on your sides, with your partner facing your back. Having him behind you allows his penis to go between your thighs and enter you from behind.
Bonus: there’s no pressure on your belly and the position allows for shallow penetration (deep penetration is sometimes uncomfortable as you get to the later stages of pregnancy).
‘Doggy style’ allows for deeper penetration and is often very pleasurable for both parties. It involves you being down on hands and knees while your partner, who can be standing or kneeling behind you, enters from behind. And those decorative pillows on your bed will finally come in handy – use them to support your stomach and chest to stay comfy.
A sturdy chair is required for this one! Get your partner to sit on it while you straddle him, either facing him or facing away. This position is a favourite during pregnancy as it keeps the pressure off your abdomen and is generally more comfortable than other athletic forms of intercourse (particularly the further you get into your pregnancy). No chair? Use the edge of the bed instead, suggests Matty Silver. Extra points for mirrored built-ins, where you can both enjoy the view!
“I’d never felt as beautiful”
Kate’s pregnancy led to an increased libido
While I was expecting a bit of a slump in our sex life when I fell pregnant, the opposite happened. I wanted sex all the time! I’d nudge my partner, Sam, during the night for quickies and often wake wondering if we could fit one in before work. Morning sickness would decide that.
My arousal levels rose, I was enjoying sex more than ever and my orgasms were more intense. Even once I hit the four-month mark and my body had an outwards growth spurt, it didn’t slow us down. Sam was sensitive to my needs – missionary was out of the question and doggy style became our favourite position. Some days I’d come home from work feeling exhausted and he would suggest a soothing bath together… of course we’d end up making love in the bath before calling it a night.
Even as I reached the ‘over it’ stage at the end of my pregnancy, we kept having regular sex in the hope it’d kick off contractions. It did – Joe was born two weeks early.
I’m glad we had so much sex during my pregnancy because we didn’t have much time for it following Joe’s arrival. In hindsight, it’s like we were making up for those early, sexless days of parenthood. I’m happy to say we’re getting back into it now!
“I was scared of hurting the baby”
Violet swore off main-event bedroom activities during her pregnancy
Pete and I were still having sex a couple of times a week in my first trimester, but it wasn’t as exciting as it had been.
Usually we’re very adventurous in bed, but both found that all we could think about was the baby’s wellbeing. After lots of thought and discussion, we agreed sex was off limits until we had our bundle of joy in our arms.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Doctors say it’s perfectly fine to be sexually active throughout your pregnancy. But, personally, I didn’t feel comfortable with the idea and couldn’t enjoy myself. So we decided to pleasure each other in other ways. Pete became my personal masseur, massaging sexy body oils all over me whenever I wanted, while I treated him to oral sex and lots of it. We tried to be creative and would dress up for each other to keep things interesting. And we both enjoyed watching sexy videos together. At some points I did worry how the ‘sex ban’ would affect Pete, but he’d reassure me that we’d be back to our best in a matter of time.
And he was right. Kind of. We broke the drought about six weeks after Carina was born, but it was really painful and I wasn’t too keen for it in the weeks that followed. When I was ready to brave it again, I made sure we had lube on hand and Pete was extra gentle. Thankfully, it was a much better experience. In fact, it was great. I’d missed sex and was ready to make it a priority again. Most nights, after we put Carina down, we’d have a few hours to ourselves before she’d wake for a feed. No prizes for guessing what we’d get up to!