As an expectant dad going through this journey with my wife, I wanted to share our experiences with intimacy during pregnancy. Each trimester brought new challenges and changes when it came to our sex life. While it was tricky navigating the ups and downs of pregnancy sex, maintaining physical and emotional intimacy played an important role in strengthening our relationship.
In this article, I’ll provide an overview of how sex and intimacy can change throughout each trimester of pregnancy. I aim to offer a realistic perspective based on our personal story. My goal is to reassure other expectant couples that the fluctuations in your sex life during this period are normal. With open communication, creativity, and a good sense of humor, you can foster closeness with your partner all the way up to delivery day.
Sex in Each Trimester of Pregnancy
The first trimester is full of physical and emotional changes for expecting mothers. My wife experienced a much lower sex drive during this time due to nausea, exhaustion, and her changing body. The nausea and tiredness that often accompany early pregnancy made intimacy challenging. We had to get creative with positions that made her feel more comfortable. Spoons position or side-by-side were better than me being directly on top. Experimenting with different times of day based on when she felt less nauseous also helped.
It was an emotional time for us as well. My wife struggled with confidence in her changing body. I made sure to reassure her that she was beautiful and that her body was creating our baby, which only made me love her more. While our sex life changed during the first trimester, we still found ways to maintain intimacy through gentle touches, cuddling, kissing, and verbal affirmation. I learned to be more selfless and focus on her needs over mine. Improving emotional intimacy helped carry us through the physical challenges.
The second trimester can be an exciting time for intimacy and sex. As the morning sickness and fatigue from the first trimester fade away, many women experience a surge in libido and energy. The increase in hormones like estrogen and testosterone boost libido, and the disappearance of first trimester symptoms makes women feel more like themselves again.
Plus, while the belly continues to grow during this time, it’s usually not so large yet that it gets in the way of sexual activity. The baby bump starts becoming more pronounced, but most women don’t need to significantly change sexual positions yet. Some even enjoy the thickness of their figure and feel empowered by the physical changes taking place. This confidence can also increase desire.
So take advantage of any increased energy and heightened arousal you may be experiencing now before any aches, pains or logistical issues arise later on. Make time for physical intimacy with your partner during the second trimester and have fun experimenting together while you still can!
In the third trimester, that big belly is really in the way. As delivery day approaches, a woman may feel unattractive and clumsy. Her abdomen is huge now. Plus, the reality of caring for a newborn makes a woman less interested in sex at this point.
Braxton Hicks contractions—practice tightening of the uterus—start to ramp up. This can make intercourse pretty uncomfortable.
Some women find their libido drops in the third trimester for several reasons:
- She feels self-conscious about her body. This giant belly and weight gain does not make her feel sexy.
- Her changing body makes some positions difficult or even impossible now.
- She has other things on her mind. Preparing for baby’s arrival becomes the priority now.
- Vaginal discharge increases. This is the body’s way of cleaning itself out in preparation for delivery. Some women don’t like the increase in discharge.
- Contractions make sex uncomfortable. Braxton Hicks contractions can happen during orgasm. For some women this makes the idea of sex unappealing.
- She’s just plain exhausted by this point. The third trimester takes its toll. Fatigue sets in.
Even with all these challenges, some couples continue having sex into the final weeks of pregnancy. Experimenting with positions can help make this more comfortable. Being patient, loving, and creative helps both partners adapt to the constantly changing challenges that come with the big belly of late pregnancy.
Positions for Comfort
The increase in blood volume and extra weight during pregnancy can make some positions uncomfortable for expectant moms. Here are some suggestions for positions that may provide more comfort:
Lying on the side allows the belly to rest comfortably and takes pressure off the back. Place a pillow between the knees and under the belly for extra support. This position provides intimacy while allowing the partner to avoid putting too much weight on mom’s belly.
Woman on Top
This allows the woman to control depth of penetration and speed. Lean forward slightly or place hands on the partner’s chest for support to avoid over-arching the back. This position gives mom the control to find what’s most comfortable.
This allows for shallow penetration while mom lies on her side or knees. A pillow under the belly and chest can provide comfort and support. Rear entry prevents the partner’s weight from pressing against mom’s belly.
Straddling a chair or sitting on the partner’s lap allows the woman to find comfortable angles without laying flat. Hugging or holding the back of a chair can provide stability. Sitting upright also prevents digestive issues that may occur in lying positions.
The key is to experiment, communicate, and find positions that allow mom to be as relaxed and comfortable as possible. Don’t be afraid to get creative and make adjustments as the belly grows throughout pregnancy. Most importantly, intimacy should be enjoyable for both partners.
Having sex during pregnancy can provide several benefits for expectant parents. At a time of massive change and uncertainty, intimacy promotes closeness and bonding between partners. The release of oxytocin during orgasm strengthens feelings of affection and attachment. This hormone also stimulates uterine contractions which can help ripen the cervix in preparation for labor.
Regular sex throughout pregnancy is linked to full-term births. Partners who engage in sexual activity tend to feel more satisfied in their relationship during the transition to parenthood. Shared pleasure brings couples closer together emotionally and physically. Sex relieves stress for both mothers and fathers, providing a natural outlet for tension. Climax also relieves muscle cramps and improves sleep, which can be especially helpful later in pregnancy.
With doctor approval, sex is safe for most couples during each trimester. Partners should discuss any discomforts or questions with their healthcare provider. While remaining mindful of prenatal guidelines, expectant parents can enjoy the multitude of benefits that come from maintaining intimacy.
Related: How Does Sex Induce Labor?
While sex during pregnancy is generally safe for most couples, there are some potential risks to be aware of.
The most common risk is spotting or light bleeding after intercourse. This happens because the cervix becomes very sensitive and engorged with blood during pregnancy. The spotting is usually very minor and not a cause for concern. However, it’s a good idea to mention any bleeding to your doctor.
For women who are at high risk for preterm labor, such as those who’ve had a previous preterm birth, sex during pregnancy does come with a small risk of triggering preterm contractions. The prostaglandins in semen can potentially stimulate contractions. So women with a history of preterm labor should discuss the risks with their doctor and avoid sex if recommended.
Overall the risks associated with sex during pregnancy are quite low for most women. Being aware of potential complications and talking to your doctor can help determine if any precautions are needed. Don’t hesitate to ask questions or bring up any concerns.
Related: When To Have Sex After C-Section?
When to Avoid Sex During Pregnancy
There are some circumstances where it is best to refrain from having sex during pregnancy. This is usually due to medical reasons that could potentially harm the mother or baby. Some key times to avoid sex include:
Placenta previa is when the placenta covers part or all of the opening of the cervix inside the uterus. This condition can cause bleeding during pregnancy. If you have placenta previa, you will likely be advised not to have sex during pregnancy as this could lead to bleeding or other complications. Follow your doctor’s guidance on if and when it may be safe to resume sexual activity.
An incompetent cervix is when the cervix opens too early, often leading to premature birth. If you have this condition, your doctor will likely recommend you abstain from sex during pregnancy to reduce the risk of triggering preterm labor. Special care must be taken to avoid putting pressure on the cervix.
History of Preterm Labor
If you’ve had a previous premature birth or are at risk for preterm labor, your doctor may advise you to refrain from sex during pregnancy. The hormones released during sex and orgasm can potentially start uterine contractions. Avoiding intercourse reduces the chance of stimulating preterm labor if you are prone to it.
It’s important to discuss your medical history with your doctor and follow their guidance regarding sexual activity during pregnancy. While sex is typically fine in low-risk pregnancies, those with pregnancy complications or risks may need to abstain from sex for the safety of the mother and baby.
Related: Sex After Hysterectomy
Sex during pregnancy brings its own unique challenges. Here are some tips to keep your intimate life exciting while also keeping mom and baby safe:
- Use lube. As estrogen levels rise during pregnancy, vaginal lubrication may decrease. Using a water-based lubricant can help make intimacy more comfortable. Reapply as needed.
- Communicate. Let your partner know if something hurts or feels uncomfortable. Try different positions to see what works best as the belly grows. And speak up about your changing desires.
- Try new things. Pregnancy often makes old favorites difficult, so get creative. Focus on oral, manual stimulation, or sensual massage. Explore sex toys if you’re both open to it.
- Stay patient. Hormones, discomfort, and fatigue can reduce sex drive for either partner. Don’t stress. Cuddle, kiss, and stay physically affectionate. Prioritize intimacy however it works for now.
The key is keeping an open mind and staying flexible. With a little creativity, you can maintain a satisfying sex life through all three trimesters. Most importantly, keep communicating so you both feel loved and connected.
Overall, sex in each trimester of pregnancy can be a healthy and enjoyable experience for couples as long as certain precautions are taken and medical advice is followed. Throughout the trimesters of pregnancy, a couple’s sex life can remain intimate and fulfilling in different ways even as the body goes through changes. From engaging in gentle, modified positions to finding new erogenous zones, couples can adapt their lovemaking in creative ways. Each woman handles pregnancy differently, so communication and flexibility between partners are key. Of course, some discomfort or concerns may arise along the way, but an open dialogue and patience can help smooth things over.
As the partner in my wife’s pregnancy journey, our intimacy has evolved in beautiful ways. Our sex life required more creativity, understanding and laughter but ultimately brought us closer. We’ve had to roll with her fluctuating libido, changing body image and unpredictable baby movements. But more than just physical relief, our lovemaking provides connection during a lifechanging time. While we make sure to heed medical guidance, we also recognize the power of pleasure and touch for expectant mothers. Our child was created in passion, and that passion continues to nurture our relationship as we prepare to bring a new life into the world. Wherever our parenthood adventure leads, we’ll get there hand in hand.