A Guest Blog from Emily Fackrell
Let’s start with a confession. This is embarrassing (why I don’t know): When I was pregnant I was so horny that I felt out of control. Luckily for me my wonderful husband also found the concept of me carrying his child, a massive turn on. However this is not something either of us expected.
Now let me say that pregnancy and I don’t get on well. I hate being pregnant. I am uncomfortable, sick (I mean really sick), have heartburn, experience pelvic pain and am utterly exhausted the whole time. It is a wonder I did this four times. It is not an experience that in conducive to feeling sexy and certainly doesn’t make sense to me that during this time when I felt really quite shit, I would also feel relentlessly up-for-it. Let me also explain that although I quite like sex, actually I don’t need a lot of it usually and to be honest, my husband is happy with sex about once a week normally too.
So, when I found myself wanting to attack him every moment he was home, needing to search for porn on the internet and take care of myself about 4 times a day when he wasn’t around, I was a tad confused. This did not really add up.
Also, my orgasms were HUGE. I am not someone who gets off that easily but when I am pregnant it just happens and is amazing. I guess there had to be an upside to pregnancy somewhere.
The first thing I wondered was is this normal and is sex safe? Let’s address those before we get to the fun stuff.
After some research I found that it is super common to feel this way and has scientific reasons (I wasn’t losing my mind) but it is also just as common to feel the opposite. There are lots of people reading this shouting “that was me” and just as many cringing and feeling a little ill at the thought. What was also common was both people in a couple being very anxious about all the myths around sex in pregnancy.
Myths of sex in pregnancy
Penetrative sex can cause damage to the baby FALSE
The penis, or sex toys reach the end of the vagina and stop. Uterine muscles and the cervix prevent any further penetration. The baby is fully protected also by a thick mucus plug beyond which is the amniotic sac that surrounds it. The baby will have no idea what is happening. The most they might know is some very mild and safe contractions or cramps in the womb (that they probably won’t even feel or will feel like a little hug) that some people experience.
Sexual intercourse can start labour early. FALSE (mostly)
Although it is absolutely true that orgasm can cause mild contractions of the uterus as above, these are not strong enough to bring on labour, Nipple stimulation can cause the same. Similarly it is true that the prostaglandins found in semen are the same as the substance used to soften the cervix during an induction, however this will not do anything to induce labour if your body is not already prepared to do so. So whilst sex can sometimes tip the balance when you are overdue and your body is already preparing for labour, it will not cause premature labour. The only caveat is for those who might be prone to early labours or have issues with their cervix. If this is you, please consult a medical professional before having sex.
It has to be “gentle” or “normal” sex. FALSE
Actually, unless it doesn’t feel good, it is fine. If you are into rough sex, BDSM, anal sex or group sex then that’s all cool. Avoid anything that could hit your bump, restricts your oxygen or blood flow too much or anything that risks infection. I am sure you always do avoid infection but the risk if you contracted something is much higher and could affect your baby so much higher precaution is necessary. Here is a link to some answers to more specific questions on safety.
5 simple rules to bear in mind
- Be mindful of what your body is telling you and trust your instincts. If it doesn’t feel good, STOP.
- Keep talking – communication is everything.
- Don’t have penetrative sex if your waters have broken or if a doctor or midwife has told you not to.
- Do not restrict blood flow or oxygen supply: From about 12 weeks, ensure you put pillows under your hips if you are lying on your back. The weight of the pregnancy can cause serious circulation issues.
- Take good precautions to avoid infection.
Now that is covered, let’s talk about sex
If you are like me and are feeling like “fuck yeah I want all the sex” during pregnancy, you will be glad to know that it is a great time to really enjoy yourself.
During pregnancy your body’s blood volume increases and sends more to your genitals! This makes them extra sensitive which can make sex more enjoyable. In addition your body produces more lubricants and in the words of Sebastian from the little mermaid “darling it’s better down where it’s wetter, take it from me.”. Your breasts and nipples also become more sensitive and this is a marmite thing. For some people this might feel good and for others they are simply tender and touching them in a massive NO. Sometimes breasts leak first milk (known as colostrum) during pregnancy which can be a bit of a shock and off putting for some. If this is you, sex with a comfy bra or top on might be better!
Whilst it can be more pleasurable, it might not always be easy or the same as before. As your body grows and changes, what you can physically do and what you enjoy will definitely change. This is the time where experimenting becomes fun for you. You may need to find more comfortable and pleasurable positions and you may find they come to be useful and fun later on too.
Positions to try for penetration
The V – Lie facing each other in a V shape. This can allow for good penetration and puts no pressure on the bump. On the downside it doesn’t allow for kissing.
Get on top of it – Straddle your partner whilst he lies on his back. This can take quite a lot of energy on your part but can be very pleasurable and allows you to fully control the depth of penetration and speed. You can face either way, whichever is more fun.
Seated – Straddling your partner as he sits in a comfortable (and study!) seat. The pros and cons are similar to the above but it does allow for more cuddling and kissing without as much bump squishing. Pro-tip: Make sure you have something to help you get out of this position at the end. Something to lean on will stop you getting stuck. I realise I am stealing from you the opportunity for much giggling but trust me on this.
Spoon – With both of you lying on your sides, your partner will enter you from behind. This can be very pleasurable and possibly one of the most comfortable positions during the later stages of pregnancy. Penetration tends to be shallower in this position which is desirable for some.
Missionary with cushions – With the regular man on top position, ensure you put cushions under your hips after the 12 weeks as the wight of the pregnancy will otherwise restrict blood flow to your brain! Also make sure your head and shoulders are well supported. Your partner needs to ensure he supports himself well so that he isn’t putting pressure on your bump.
On the edge – a good variation of this is to slide down the bed (works on a sofa too) so your bottom is right on the edge (still make sure you use cushions as above). Your partner can kneel on the floor (or stand if you have a really high bed). This can be good for deeper penetration.
Doggy style – On your knees and elbows or hands your partner enters from behind. Many people enjoy this position though some find it impersonal. Use cushions to support your bump if that helps.
* These are the ones I can remember. If you have any more that I haven’t thought of or have forgotten please add them in the comments for others to enjoy!
But what if I am thinking “Fuck that”
For those that are feeling less than inclined to go at it during pregnancy, that is also a very common situation. I experienced this after my births (read the amazing article on sex after birth by Holly Heather here), but many of the same issues are to be expected with these feelings in pregnancy. The thing here is that it is just as likely that your partner feels anxious or “weirded out” by the prospect of sex during pregnancy as you might.
Whichever of you is uncomfortable with sex at this time, I completely get it. As I said I felt like that after my births. Sitting with those feelings and taking time for our relationship was tricky and I can imagine that this is the same in pregnancy. Even though we aren’t that focused on sex as a couple, losing that part of our relationship completely for a significant time wasn’t easy.
Communication is key here. Talking about how you are feeling with each other, and remembering that what you say about your body is absolute, ensures that no resentment builds in either person in a relationship. You can research together and work towards finding in what ways you can be intimate together and both be comfortable. Discovering together what you can do safely and happily can be empowering and finding other forms of intimacy can be exciting and renew the spark in your relationship. These new intimacies can either be physical things such as massage, cuddling and kissing more, bathing together (if you have a giant bath), or they can be more about other kinds of connection like going on a retreat or spa day together, doing activities together that may be tricky after the baby arrives (cinema springs to mind) and treating yourselves. It is well worth looking up love languages during this time too and using this to nurture each other. Do some experimenting.
It is important to note here the whilst some people enjoy experimentation and change, some people find it extremely difficult. Especially if you have experienced trauma or abuse or if you are not neuro-typical, you may find changes in general overwhelming or changes specifically around sexual contact triggering. It is completely acceptable to choose to not engage during this time. If you are feeling uncomfortable with sexual contact then communication is key. It is always your body and your choice and if one person in the relationship is not wanting to do anything, they must always be at liberty to say so and be fully respected.
Sometimes this might mean that your sex life isn’t what it was before pregnancy. This can be difficult for everyone involved and I would highly recommend having some real conversations about this and continue talking. Putting in place some time to spend together. Remember, this is only temporary, even if it feels like forever, it will be surprisingly soon that your baby is growing up and you are going at it on the sofa of an evening because your toddler is in your bed… trust me.
About The Author
Emily Fackrell is the founder and managing director of CalmFamily. She is passionate about raising a generation of calmer, happier peoplee