Is sex safe when you're pregnant?
Yes, for the very vast majority of women, there is no reason why they shouldn't continue to have sex throughout their entire pregnancy if they want to. Sex, penetrative or otherwise, cannot hurt your baby. He or she is all tucked up inside, completely protected and unaware of what's going on.
In a few cases, women might be advised not to engage in penetrative sex – for example, those who have experienced bleeding, have a history of cervical weakness, or have placenta previa. You'd also be advised to abstain if your waters have broken. If you aren't sure, just ask your midwife.
If experts are to be believed, having sex throughout pregnancy might even have some beneficial effects; there is some evidence to suggest women who have regular sex, and women who have orgasms when pregnant, may be less likely to have a premature birth.
There's also the great benefit of maintaining intimacy – sex might be off the cards for several weeks after your baby is born, so keeping things alive in the bedroom while you are pregnant will mean a much shorter gap in your sexual relations. That might well make it easier to re-establish the physical side of your relationship once your baby has arrived.
Will I want to?
Every woman is different; while some find being pregnant makes them feel randier than ever, for others it's a time when they just don't feel like doing it.
And of course, how you feel might change as your pregnancy progresses. In the early weeks, pregnancy sickness, fatigue and tender breasts might make you feel awful and not at all like getting physical, whereas when you're (hopefully) blooming in your second trimester, you may want to make the most of your more generous assets! Some women find they not only want more sex when they're pregnant, they enjoy it more too.
There are various reasons why you might or might not want to have sex while pregnant – your body is undergoing some pretty mega hormonal changes, and this can play havoc with not only your sex drive but also your emotions.
Some women find they feel a bit funny about themselves physically, perhaps because they are gaining a little weight or their body starts to feel a bit unfamiliar, and worry (usually needlessly) that their partner won't find them attractive.
If you feel any of those things – or if you just feel different than normal – talk! There's no right or wrong answer as to whether you should feel like having sex when you're pregnant – you feel what you feel and communication about that is key.
Will he want to?
It would be tempting to answer that question with 'do bears poop in the woods?' – but really, the same thing applies. Just because he's a man doesn't necessarily mean his sex drive will plough on, undeterred by the physical changes you are experiencing and the emotional changes you're both experiencing.
It's quite common for men to feel a bit strange about sex when their partner is pregnant (and particularly during the later stages). Some men might feel like they are intruding on their unborn's space, others feel self-conscious about the baby being 'in the same room' as it were.
If your partner is feeling unsure, but you are missing the intimacy, talk things through and remember, there is more than one way to skin a cat! Whether it's you or him who's gone off the idea, sex doesn't have to be penetrative, there are all sorts of other ways to make love and feel satisfied.
Trial and error
For many reasons, and particularly when your bump has become rather large, the ways in which you have sex when pregnant might change a bit. Some women find the standard missionary position becomes increasingly uncomfortable (if not impossible!) – and penetration itself might become uncomfortable in certain positions if it's too deep.
But between the two of you, if both are willing, you should be able to find some comfortable positions and activities: side by side (spooning), you on top, on all fours, or even in a sitting position. All of these are perfectly doable, and if you've never done them before, now is the perfect time to try!
Obviously, if one or both of you are not keen on penetrative sex for the time being, you can still engage in oral sex or mutual masturbation, or even just make time for being tender. If (actually, let's say when) you orgasm, you might notice it sets off some 'contractions' in your belly. These are nothing to worry about, coming to climax often brings on Braxton Hicks, but these are normal and are not doing your baby any harm.
However you choose to do it, if your pregnancy is a healthy one, you can continue to enjoy sex right up until your waters break.
"The three mega myths"i
Having sex can bring on premature labour
No, it can't. Later during your pregnancy, having an orgasm (or sometimes just the movement of intercourse itself) can bring on Braxton Hicks contractions – you'll feel a tightening of your entire uterus.
But these are not true contractions and unless your body is already about to begin labour of its own accord, sex will not kick start the process.
There is no evidence to show having sex brings about premature birth.
The baby knows you're at it
No, your baby has no awareness of what you are doing. You might feel your baby start to wriggle more during or after sex, but this is just because your heart is beating faster, and your blood will be pumping more vigorously than normal, particularly if you climax.
The baby will get bashed in the head
Nope. Your baby, even when quite big, will not get pounded because your body has provided them with triple-layered protection: first there's the amniotic fluid around them, which acts like a shock absorber; then there's the thick and muscular wall of your uterus; and finally, there's the big plug sealing your cervix.
The Lovers' Guide has advice for couples wishing to maintain their sexual relationship during pregnancy on their website. Take a look, it can never do any harm to discover new ideas!