Sex may be the last thing on your mind during pregnancy, with all the other changes going on in your body – some of which are downright uncomfortable. But sex during pregnancy can be fun, and it’s safe too.
There are, however, mitigating circumstances. You need to be in a stable relationship with a partner who is prepared to dodge your hormones, waltz with your moods and caress your ego. He also needs to have a sense of humour, the patience of a saint and the wisdom of a judge!
Sex during pregnancy depends on you
A lot also depends on you. This means how you feel about being pregnant, how you feel about your body image and your changing shape.
The second trimester is often a time of sexual rejuvenation, before the bulky discomfort of the third trimester and after the nausea and fatigue of the early weeks subside.
Your relationship before the pregnancy
Your relationship before the pregnancy also plays a part. How, when, where and why you enjoyed sex can be a turn-on or just a continuum of the same old, same old.
Couples who have enjoyed illicit sex may suddenly find that "legal" sex is boring after they have tied the knot for the sake of their unborn child.
Other couples may find that pregnancy is liberating from the fear of pregnancy, and use it as an opportunity to make their fantasies real.
The various challenges of sex during pregnancy
But negotiating bodily changes can be a challenge.
Breasts and nipples
Having your breasts fondled can be enjoyable foreplay – or downright annoying during the first 3 months when they’re sore and tender, or during the last few weeks when your nipples are engorged and leaking colostrum.
Positions also need to be creative when your tummy starts getting in the way. Adjusting to pregnancy in the first 3 months takes its toll on your energy levels. Energy drops to zero in the final months of pregnancy, so the second trimester might be your last chance!
Vulnerable to STIs
Pregnant women are highly vulnerable to sexually transmitted infections in all stages of pregnancy, the more benign ones like thrush and cystitis, as well as the more serious kind which could be lethal for the baby. This means that you need to be 100% sure that your partner is only having sex with you, and that he does not have an infection either.
An infection during the second and third trimester of pregnancy, left untreated, can result in premature labour and birth, and put the mother’s health at risk.
After the birth
After the birth, organs of pleasure herald memories of pain. This together with the fact that caring for a new baby is time consuming and tiring can put women off sex for a while after the birth.
It is best to wait at least 6 weeks to make sure everything has healed, but even then resuming your sex life should be a mutual decision.
Your periods may not have started yet, especially if you are breastfeeding, but it’s still a good idea to use some form of birth control.
Sex for the first time after pregnancy
When you plan to make love for the first time after the birth, boost your ego with a wax, new hairstyle or sexy negligee. You may want to light some candles and have a bubble bath together – but don’t put pressure on by trying too hard or feeling guilty.
Rather see the resumption of sex as an opportunity to spend time together, to be affectionate and to get to know your new body. And if the baby cries and your breasts leak – laugh about it together.
Your sex life doesn't have to end
Also take heart from the fact that given the number of second, third and even fourth children in the world it is a myth that your sex life ends after you have children. You may have to be more creative about when and where and you may not be able to devote a whole weekend to the pleasures of the flesh (5 minutes is more like it), but love and lust will find their place in your new relationship as parents.