Pregnancy and sex – we don’t talk about them enough. Parents-to-be should have all the information they need, as it’s such an important part of a couple's life. Can you have sex during pregnancy? Is it true that it triggers labour? Will we still want to make love? Does it hurt the baby? Here are all the answers you’re looking for.
Can you have sex when pregnant?
Let's set things clear: it’s simply not true that you can’t make love during pregnancy!
It is true, however, that in some cases love making while pregnant has to be suspended: if there’s a risk of miscarriage or premature birth, if you have placenta previa, if your cervix has dilated too much... Fortunately, these types of cases are rare, and you will be advised by your doctor or midwife if it’s unsafe for you to continue to have sex when pregnant!
Generally speaking, love making during pregnancy is good for you, in fact, very good for you - both physically and emotionally speaking.
Sexual activity produces hormones, such as endorphins, which help reduce pain, strengthen your immune system, and reduce stress.
Last but not least, it’s good for your relationship too!
Why is making love during pregnancy good for you: all the benefits
The Italian Ministry of Health's Guidelines on Physiological Pregnancy, (reference page 75), report the results of a study on sex during pregnancy. It states that having sex once or twice a week is associated with a lower incidence of preterm birth. Incidence decreases further if sexual intercourse occurs three or four times a week.
Making love during pregnancy also offers many other benefits:
It keeps pelvic floor muscles active by preparing them for childbirth, especially during the later stages of pregnancy (similar to the pelvic floor exercises you’ll learn at your antenatal course).
The placenta, and consequently the baby, receive more oxygen during sexual intercourse.
Sex releases 'feel-good hormones', such as endorphins, which help reduce pain, strengthen the immune system, and reduce stress (and physiological anxiety which all mums experience in one way or another!).
It has a positive effect on a couple’s rapport, first of all because it keeps such an important aspect of your relationship alive. But that’s not all.
It can help the mum-to-be, who’s going through so many physical changes, to still feel attractive and desired.
It can help dads not to be excluded by the arrival of the unborn baby and to be part of the pregnancy.
It seems to help with labour when you reach full term, which is why, together with a healthy regime of physical activity, it’s the most recommended method to induce labour by midwives.
Is it true that making love during pregnancy can naturally induce labour?
There is no scientific evidence to prove that sexual intercourse during pregnancy is a way to induce labour naturally, yet it seems to be one of the most successful ways to trigger labour.
This is why it’s often advised by midwives, along with healthy physical activity. (They may also mention other remedies such as raspberry leaves, castor oil, massage with rice grains...).
Semen contains a small amount of prostaglandins, a substance that helps the uterus prepare for childbirth. And which, in fact, in much larger doses, is medically used to induce labour.
Nipple and genital stimulation can prompt the release of oxytocin from the posterior pituitary gland, causing contractions in the uterus, only when labour is near.
Preterm childbirth cannot be caused by making love during pregnancy!
False myth: it’s dangerous for the baby
Having sexual intercourse during pregnancy does not harm the unborn baby. The foetus is surrounded by the placenta and amniotic fluid, safe and secure from the outside world.
In fact, we can even go as far as saying that it’s good for the baby too!
During intercourse, a greater supply of blood reaches the pelvis muscles, so the placenta, and hence baby, receive more oxygen.
In addition, contractions caused by orgasm strengthen the uterine muscle, preparing it for labour.
Sex first trimester
When you discover you’re pregnant, it’s only normal that you move about cautiously for the first few days, not knowing what’s harmful and what’s not. One of the most common concerns is related to sex: can you have sex when pregnant during the first trimester?
Of course you can! It’s simply untrue that you have to spend the first few months hidden away in a bubble to prevent a miscarriage!
So, unless your doctor tells you otherwise, relax and enjoy this precious moment with your partner.
On the other hand, it has to be said that most women experience a sharp drop in sexual desire, due to hormonal changes together with morning sickness and general tiredness.
Sex in second trimester
During the second trimester of pregnancy, morning sickness disappears, energy levels return and as you reach the end of the most critical period, you’ll find that your desire for intimacy returns and often even more intensely than before.
You finally feel more yourself again, and you’re more beautiful than ever: glowing skin, shiny hair, fuller breasts...
An increase in blood flow around your intimate areas encourages and intensifies orgasms.
The second trimester can be a magical time for intimacy!
When to stop sex during pregnancy?
Sexual intercourse during pregnancy can continue right up until the end if you wish (unless otherwise indicated by your doctor).
Often, however, libido falls during the last trimester in both mum and dad.
As we’ve already seen, an expectant mum’s sexual desire fluctuates greatly as it’s influenced by many different factors: overall physical health, hormones, emotional well-being...
Usually during the third trimester a mum-to-be feels heavy, bloated and out of harmony with her body, which has undergone so many changes. Feeling less attractive consequently affects her desire for sex.
Dads may start to feel slightly intimidated by the idea of their baby being born, be afraid of harming them by penetration, or begin to feel a growing sense of protection towards the mum rather than desire.
They may also feel less physically attracted to their partner, whose most prominent feature at the moment is her baby bump.
Is it normal to have increased libido during pregnancy?
If you’re experiencing an increased libido during your pregnancy, you’re not alone!
Pregnancy hormones can actually contribute to a surge in sexual desire. In addition, heightened blood flow causes an increase in sensitivity around your intimate parts, and you’ll find you’re more easily aroused. That's why you may find you discover an array of new sensations and desires!
In conclusion: love making is always good for you, even during pregnancy! Only if you feel like it, of course.
P.S. You may have to try out some new sex positions when pregnant to make you feel more comfortable!