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having sex during pregnancy

Is it OK to have sex during pregnancy? Can my baby feel it..? While making love induce labor? Can it hurt my baby to have sex while pregnant? Does it increase the risk of miscarriage?

These are some of the common questions pregnant women might have on sex during pregnancy, and we answer them all here!

In this article:

Common Questions on Sex During Pregnancy

Is it OK to Have Sex During Pregnancy?

When pregnant the first time – or if being worried that something could go wrong with the pregnancy – a common question to wonder about, but maybe not actually asked is whether it is still OK to have sex during the pregnancy?

Luckily, in most cases, the simple answer is YES!

Fortunately, if you’re experiencing a risk-free nine months, there is no reason why you shouldn’t continue to have sex during pregnancy right up until the birth, although the logistics may need a bit of tweaking for obvious reasons during the third trimester!

I’m sure you’ve all heard the old wives’ tale of sex being a method of inducing labor!

The Sex Drive While Pregnant

The sex drive while pregnant can both increase and decrease.

Some women may feel that the reduced pressure to have sex at ovulation or to use protection can increase the sex drive.

On the other hand, some women find that they are simply not in the mood for sex during pregnancy, and this is also completely normal. With nausea, tiredness, and an ever-growing baby bump, it can often be difficult to feel sexy.

One detailed study on sex during pregnancy indicated that both libido and sexual frequency decreased during pregnancy for most women. It also found both libido and frequency to fall throughout pregnancy, which seems quite natural.

According to the study, the main reasons for abandoning sex during pregnancy included (and women could give multiple reasons, so the figures do not add to 100%):
  • decreased libido (35.5%)
  • doctor’s suggestion (29%)
  • fears concerning future child’s health (29%)
  • the lack of satisfaction (21%)
  • decreased feeling of attractiveness (16.1%)
  • sexual partner refusal (14.5%)
  • the feeling of pain at the time of sexual intercourse (9.7%)
  • logistic problems (3.2%)
  • mood disorders (1.6%)
  • and a lack of a sexual partner (1.6%)

Make sure to discuss any feelings of this nature with your partner – pregnancy can be a complicated time for Dad too as he can’t always tell how you’re feeling or what you’re going through.

You can find out about other pregnant moms’ libido in this poll.

Will Sex During Pregnancy Hurt the Baby?

The idea of sex during pregnancy hurting the baby is often what causes hesitation but as long as you have a healthy pregnancy there is usually nothing to worry about.

Throughout the majority of pregnancy, the entrance to the cervix will remain closed and protected with a mucous plug to keep out any infection.

Additionally, the baby is well protected from the outside world as it is encased safely inside the amniotic sac (your ‘waters’).

The amniotic sac together with the strong uterus muscles also mean that your baby will not notice the intercourse.

At most, the movement could probably rock your baby to sleep, since many babies in the womb sleep when mom is moving around. I haven’t seen any research on this though. :-)

Sex and the Risk of Miscarriage

We all know that the risk of miscarriage is the highest during the first trimester. Therefore, it is common to worry that having sex during the first trimester can increase the miscarriage risk.

However, there is no known link between sex and miscarriage, and this is despite first-trimester miscarriage research being quite extensive. (Source)

Of course, if you are bleeding or you have a history of repeated miscarriage, you should consult your doctor before having sex.

Sex and Preterm Labor

This is a more tricky question. For a healthy pregnancy, where the mom is at no risk of preterm labor, studies find no connection between sex and preterm birth.

However, for preterm high-risk pregnancies (earlier preterm labor, multiple pregnancies, incompetent cervix, and so on, see below), studies have found a link between frequency of intercourse and preterm labor for moms that have had many sexual partners during her life. (Source 1 and source 2)

Reasons not to have sex while pregnant?

There are some complications of pregnancy which may mean it is safer to put a hold on any sexual activity.

Vaginal bleeding

If you’ve experienced any sort of vaginal bleeding during your pregnancy, either explained or unexplained, it is always wise to check with the Doctor or other healthcare professionals whose care you have been under before having intercourse.

If you notice any bleeding immediately following sex, it is also best to get yourself checked out before going in for round two.

Low-lying Placenta

Similarly, if you know you have a condition that can cause bleeding, such as a low-lying placenta (a placenta which has attached to the bottom of the uterus, either covering or partially covering the entrance to the cervix), be sure to seek professional medical advice beforehand.

Cervical Incompetence

This odd name simply means that your cervix has started to open up prematurely. In such a case, sex is usually advised against.

Prenatal Contractions

If you are prone to prenatal contractions, other than the harmless Braxton Hick contractions, your doctor may also prohibit intercourse and actually any sexual activity that may lead to orgasm on your part.

Waters Have Broken

If your waters have broken, it is important to refrain from sex as the baby will be far less protected and much more prone to infection.

This is why many hospitals and birthing centers follow guidelines ensuring that women who have not given birth within 24 hours of their waters breaking have their labors induced.

How do I ‘do it’?

Be creative! Traditional positions sometimes just won’t work, especially during the third trimester.

A massive baby bump and swollen, tender breasts often mean that having your partner on top is out of the question.

And as soon as your belly is getting large, lying on your belly is impossible for obvious reasons.

Many women find that lying on their side with their partner lying behind them works well, as well as the woman on top or rear entry (doggy style), but pregnancy offers a great opportunity for experimentation!

Curious about how other couples’ sex positions during pregnancy?

Check out the image here below. It is from a study where pregnant women specified the sexual positions they used the most during pregnancy.

sexual positions during pregnancy
Common sexual positions during pregnancy. Source

Whether you and your partner decide to continue having sex during pregnancy or not, the important thing is to spend some intimate quality time together before the baby arrives and life becomes so wonderfully hectic.

If you want to share your experiences or thoughts on sex while pregnant, please leave a comment below! And feel free to ask any additional questions you have!

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