Sex During Pregnancy: All Your Questions Answered

Is it safe?

Most couples cannot predict how pregnancy is going to affect their sex life - but for many it seems their bedroom antics will be put on ice.

A new survey from ChannelMum has revealed that one in six UK parents completely abstain from sex for the duration of the pregnancy, because they are worried about hurting the baby.

NHS Choices confirms this is a common fear, but experts agree it is completely safe to have sex when you’re expecting.

As Siobhan Freegard, founder of ChannelMum says: “If there’s no medical issue and you are comfortable with it, you can enjoy a great sex life while pregnant.”

But in case you’re not yet convinced we’ve found the answers to seven commonly asked about pregnancy sex:

1. Is It Safe To Have Sex During Pregnancy?

It is perfectly safe to have sex throughout your pregnancy.

There is no certain month, or point during the pregnancy at which you should stop having sex, as long as it is still comfortable for you to do so.

Dr Helen Webberley, GP at My Web Doctor explains: “Gentle sex is perfectly safe throughout the entire duration of a normal pregnancy.”

The only reason you might stop is if there have been other health complications and your GP or midwife has specifically advised against intercourse.

“If there has been any problem during the pregnancy such as current bleeding, or a low lying placenta, then it may be best avoided,” said Webberley.

“However, this is unusual and in an uncomplicated situation, there is no need to worry.”

Later in pregnancy, an orgasm or even sex itself, can actually set off contractions, known as Braxton Hicks. If this happens, the woman will feel the muscles of her womb harden. This is perfectly normal and there’s no need for alarm. The NHS recommends practicing relaxation techniques until they pass.

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2. Will The Baby Know What’s Going On?

It is common for many parents to worry about causing their unborn child distress or harm, but pregnancy sex won’t impact your baby. As NHS Choices explains: “Your partner’s penis can’t penetrate beyond your vagina, and the baby cannot tell what’s going on.”

If you do feel your baby is moving more, this will be because of the rocking they feel and the increase in your heart rate and blood flow, not because they know what is happening.

“Movements and sounds from outside are an everyday part of your baby’s world, so there’s no sense in which she can ‘know’ that you are having sex,” explains a spokesperson from parenting charity, NCT.

3. Is It Safe To Have Sex During Pregnancy If I’ve Miscarried Before?

Parents who have experienced previous miscarriages and are concerned about doing anything to disturb their baby, should speak to their midwife, as they will be able to tell you if they have specific concerns.

“For people who have had recurrent miscarriages, it may be best to avoid sex during the early stages, while the pregnancy is settling in, but this has to be weighed against the advantages of having sex as part of a loving relationship,” said Webberley.

4. Are There Sex Positions That Work Best During Pregnancy?

Sex may be safe during pregnancy, but that doesn’t mean it will always be easy. It might require a bit of experimentation and exploration with your partner in order to find the best position.

NHS Choices advises: “Sex with your partner on top can become uncomfortable quite early in pregnancy, not just because of the bump, but because your breasts might be tender.

“It can also be uncomfortable if your partner penetrates you too deeply. It may be better to lie on your sides, either facing each other or with your partner behind.”

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5. Are There Any Benefits To Having Sex During Pregnancy?

Webberley said: “There is some discussion as to whether having sex can induce labour when the time comes, and it is not known whether this may be due to the chemicals contained in semen, or the chemicals released during the female orgasm. However, it is not proven and not to be relied on!”

6. Do I Need To Worry About Contraception During Pregnancy?

As you are already pregnant, there is no need to worry about practicing safe sex in order to prevent conception, but you will still need to protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

If you are concerned that you have an STI, it is important you get tested, as the NCT explains this can be passed on to your child: “Syphilis can cross the placenta and infect baby before birth, gonorrhoea, chlamydia, hepatitis B and genital herpes can be transmitted during birth. HIV can be transmitted in the womb, during birth, and while breastfeeding.”

7. Should I Worry If My Sex Drive Disappears During Pregnancy?

Some couples find having sex very enjoyable during pregnancy, while others simply feel that they don’t want to have sex, this is perfectly natural. The most important thing is to maintain open communication with your partner.