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10 Questions About Sex Before And After Childbirth 
 
by Marie-Helene Lebeault August 12, 2005

Pregnancy and impending parenthood are important personal and relationship milestones. This is an emotional time that will affect your physical and emotional relationship. The postpartum period is a time to adapt, adjust, and redefine your relationship.

Sex during Pregnancy

1- Is it normal to experience changes in my sexual desire during pregnancy?

Yes, sexual desire varies during pregnancy. Your sexual practices during pregnancy will depend on several factors such as previous beliefs about sex, physical aspects of your pregnancy, and emotional aspects of your pregnancy. In the first trimester (0-3 months), hormonal fluctuations, physical discomforts, and emotional adaptation may be responsible for these changes in women. Sexual desire decreases in about 40% of pregnant women. Men view the pregnancy differently. For most men, sexual desire goes unchanged but some men may feel abandoned or unloved.

In the second trimester (3-6 months), for most pregnant women, physical discomforts are greatly reduced. Men have a better awareness of the baby’s presence. Most couples start to enjoy sexual intercourse again.

In the third trimester (6-9 months), sexual desire drops for most women and some men due to physical discomfort, issues related to body image, worries about the birth, and the baby’s health.

2- Can couples continue to have sexual intercourse during pregnancy?

Throughout the pregnancy, assuming the woman is feeling well and rested, and her partner is up to it, anything is possible: stroking and cuddling, masturbation, oral sex, orgasm. This is the time to get creative about sex. Intimacy and tenderness are still very important, and may become even more important.

There are many positions that are more comfortable as you expand. Here are the ones which put less pressure on the abdomen, and where penetration is not as deep:

  • Sideways, face to face
  • Spooning (rear entry)
  • Woman on top
  • Man on top (weight on hands and elbows)

In early pregnancy, the cervix is more sensitive. You may experience contractions for a few minutes after an orgasm, especially at the end of the pregnancy.

3- When should we abstain from sexual intercourse?

You should avoid sexual intercourse (penetration) in the following situations until your health practitioner instructs you otherwise:

  • Vaginal bleeding or pain 
  • Ruptured membranes (your water has broken)
  • History or risk of miscarriage

 

4- Can sexual intercourse hurt the baby?

Sexual intercourse will not induce premature labor or hurt the baby. The baby is protected by the amniotic sac, and by the thick mucus plug blocking the cervix. However, sex during pregnancy should be approached delicately.

Parenthood is a time for self-discovery and for getting to know your partner in a new situation. Talking about your feelings is a great way to « Become a parent ».

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