It seems obvious that sex and pregnancies are inextricably linked, but what exactly does that entail? It’s no longer the case that you have to have sex to get pregnant. However, a period of sexual activity often precedes pregnancy.
Even if you subsequently discover that getting pregnant won’t come naturally, you’ve probably already had regularly scheduled sex for a longer period as you were trying. And as much as there is to say about sex(uality) and pregnancies before, during, and after, in this article I’m going to focus more on the period of the pregnancy itself.
A normal, healthy, sexual relationship
What can you expect about your own sexual needs, or: what does a normal sexual relationship look like while you are pregnant? As with all forms of sexuality, this varies from person to person and it is especially important to ask yourself what feels good for yourself or you both. What are your sexual needs? What do you long for? And how can you meet your partner’s needs?
During the first three months of pregnancy, your body has to get used to all the pregnancy hormones. This means that your body will often do all kinds of things without your being able to directly influence them. You may feel nauseous and will be tired. During this period, sex is often not a priority for women, while your partner may still want it. This is difficult and can cause friction.
As the second trimester approaches, it’ll become even clearer that not every woman reacts the same to hormones. Some are especially bothered by them. They feel tired, lethargic, have mood swings, and can be very catty, while others enjoy having bigger breasts and a major increase in sexual arousal! While, for some women, the sex drive disappears spontaneously, for others it will increase exponentially. And because there’s better blood flow to your nipples, labia, and clitoris, you’ll be sexually stimulated faster. Sexual dreams and fantasies are also well-known phenomena that occur frequently.
A changing body
As your belly grows, it becomes more difficult to have “normal” sex: you may have to get a bit more creative and see what your body can handle. This will likely slow down and you and your partner might be afraid of harming the baby. Don’t worry! The baby is well protected, provided you continue to listen to what your body is telling you. If it doesn’t feel right physically, you can always slow down, try a different position, or stop.
Do you no longer feel comfortable in your own skin because your body has changed so much? You may be feeling the change more than your partner is aware of. Speak about your insecurities and listen to your partner when they reassure you. However, it is also possible that your partner could find you physically or sexually less attractive or associates touching your belly or larger breasts with the baby: not necessarily very exciting. Don’t take it as a personal rejection. After all, a lot is changing in your lives and sex may just have a lower priority, even for your partner.
Bleeding during pregnancy
Are you experiencing light bleeding? This may be because the blood vessels near your cervix are now closer to the surface. This may cause them to break during sex. This is nothing to worry about! Does it continuously bleed or is it too much for you? Then discuss it with your midwife. Does your partner have an STI? Then be careful or maybe even avoid sex altogether. Because your bloodstream is connected to the baby, an STI can also be harmful to the baby. Are you approaching the end of your pregnancy and are you at risk of preterm birth, are you past your due date, or have contractions already started? Then a good roll in the hay can speed up the labour.
The majority of women seem to experience sexuality very differently during pregnancy. The overall sense of satisfaction decreases, but so does the frequency. Are your and your partner’s needs very different? Look at what other options are available: solo sex in particular can compensate for the difference in needs during this period or consider sexual acts where one person gives more than receives. You may not feel the need for sexual release, but you may not mind helping your partner masturbate.
Both the hormones and the physical and mental changes will have quite an impact on you and therefore on your experience of sex. Discuss it with your partner and ask what their needs are. In any case, don’t avoid the subject for the next nine months but also don’t wear yourself out meeting your partner’s needs. (Think of a pregnant woman who wanted sex several times every day, where the man went along as much as he could, but was then disappointed that it took months after the baby was born for his wife to show any interest in sex again.)
After giving birth
The doctor’s advice is to wait 6 weeks before having sex after giving birth. Depending on how the delivery went and the degree of physical injury, it may take longer for the idea of sex to sound pleasant. Everyone’s different when it comes to wanting sex again, but try to deal with it intentionally. There’s a good chance you’ll want to do it at full speed the first time back in the saddle. But try to take it slow the first time and see how everything feels. That first time may not be as uninhibited or incredibly exciting as you’d like, but use it to sense how your body has recovered. Take your time and try to rediscover everything again.
Also read: My First Time after Childbirth