I’ve been thinking about writing a post about sex during pregnancy and after childbirth for quite some time now. I’ve noticed that many women, especially moms-to-be that had troubles with getting pregnant, are asking questions like: “Can I get myself a little pleasure?”, “Will it hurt the baby?” and “How the sex will look like after childbirth?”. Most of us have to deal with these dilemmas and many men are stressed out as well. They wonder if sex is safe for the baby or it might result in preterm birth. Men are also afraid that they cause pain rather than an enjoyable experience. Sex during and after pregnancy is still considered taboo and many people don’t want to speak out about it. Although almost every women experience stress or even traumas, most of them are too shy to talk about it with others. Since I started my blog 3 years ago, I got to better know you and I noticed many feminine or I should rather say family problems.
The role of sex is way more important than just procreation act. The intercourse brings you and your partner together, builds intimacy between you two, gives a lot of pleasure and strengthens self-confidence. There is no need for giving up sex when the pregnancy is normal. In the next 9 months your needs, including sexual ones, will surprisingly change. Your libido can increase as well as dampen down and you can’t predict it in advance. It all depends on the course of pregnancy and your well-being within the next 9 months. If everything is OK, and you are in a mood for sex, there is nothing to be worry about and you shouldn’t avoid sex. Intercourse is of course safe for a baby that is protected by amniotic sac, membrane and strong muscles of the uterus. Many doctors even recommend sex during pregnancy. Research proves that couples that have sex frequently while pregnant have less severe complications, like preeclampsia or high blood pressure. It is caused by histocompatibility substance in sperm. The more often woman has a contact with it, the less risk of negative reaction on baby tissues during labor. In addition, well-trained uterus muscles make the delivery much easier.
Your sex drive will change during pregnancy. After the first trimester all the pressure is gone. Impregnation was a success, therefore you don’t have to care about the ovulation cycle anymore and you can just enjoy and have unrestricted sex. If your doctor gives you green light, then you can freely benefit from being just the two of you for the remainder. As I mentioned before, sex is safe for a baby. The only problem is you well-being. For the first few weeks you can feel nauseated, tired, moody and your vagina may be very dry. Help yourself with lubricants, because they don’t get into the blood stream and affect the baby.
Starting from the second trimester you notice some beautiful changes in your body and you are not the only one ☺ Your breasts are definitely bigger, your skin and hear look better than ever, and the nausea is just a bad memory. You are just blooming and feel amazing. It’s the best time ever. Most of the pregnancy sicknesses disappear. The belly starts to grow making you and your partner proud but yet it doesn’t interfere with your sex activities. At this point your libido probably increases; your vagina is more moist and enlarged. It all supports your experience.
In the third trimester, your growing belly makes you and your partner look for sexual positions that are comfortable enough for you. The sex is still safe, but other inconveniences appear. You may feel heavy, tired and unattractive. Heartburn, urinary urgency and pelvic pain may also occur. Moreover, you may start worrying about the labor or your future role as a mother.
Many women think that having sex in the third trimester can trigger premature labor. It’s actually partially true. The sperm contains prostaglandins that can soften cervix and it can trigger the labor. But it only happens when your body has already produced hormones that are essential for giving a birth. It means your body and child have to be ready for the labor, and sex won’t trigger it sooner. Intercourse can rather help in case of prolonged pregnancy which is way better than oxytocin.
If your pregnancy is high-risk of miscarriage or premature birth your doctor will inform you that you should give up sex. Contradictions for sexual act are also bleeding, spotting and pain in lower stomach after intercourse. If you notice any of these signs, you should consult them with your gynaecologist. You have to resign from sex in case of spontaneous rapture of membranes, cervical incompetence or placenta previa (up to 20th week). Based on USG the doctor will inform you when the placenta comes back. If you are told to give up sex, always ask if it means any sexual activities, including petting and orgasm or just penetration.
SEX AFER BABY
There are many doubts when we think about having sex again after the childbirth.
Being pregnant is a huge challenge for your body and labor is an hours long effort. Your organism needs time to regenerate and yet you have to take care of a newborn baby from day one. I wrote a separate post about postpartum period and how to take care of yourself, because it is a very important phase for your body. You’ll find it here.
It is not safe to have intercourse for about 2 weeks after delivery. You are probably still bleeding, therefore the risk for haemorrhage and uterine infection is very high. If you had a C-section, you should wait until your wound heals. In general, from physiological perspective, you should wait at least 4-6 weeks after delivery, and full 6 weeks if you have stitches either from episiotomy or C-section before you can have sex again.
Possibly, after postpartum visit, there will be no reason for additional postponing sex activities, but you can still have many doubts. Exhaustion plus the need for all day all night care for a new born baby and the only thing that comes to your mind when you go to bed is sleep. You fall asleep as soon as your head touches the pillow and your new favorite sex position can be called “Sleepyhead” or “Sleeping Beauty” 😉 You must admit — it doesn’t sound arousing at all! There is also the lack of time and as soon as you cuddle with your partner, the crying baby will interrupt you… especially if you have more than one kid.
You may be also worried how the sex will look like now. If it was your first pregnancy, you can actually feel like it is your first time all over again. You can ask yourself questions: “will it hurt?”, “will it feel like it did before?”, “will everything be different?”. Indeed, your vagina will be stretched out after labor, but just within a few days it will start to shrink. It’s hard to say whether it’ll return to its original size as it depends on many factors, like genetics, the size of a baby, the numbers of babies you’ve had and your Kegel muscles.
Probably 2 months after delivery you’ll be still in physical pain. You don’t have to throw yourself in at the deep end and start with intercourse with penetration. Tell your partner about your doubts and needs. Us women, we usually expect our partners to guess what we want. Remember once and for all, in 90% he WON’T guess correctly ☺ He may love you to the moon and back, but he still doesn’t read your mind. Speak out what you feel and desire as well as what you’re worried about. Start gently moving forward and if you feel pain, just stop. If there’s been a while since you delivered and you are still in pain, contact your gynecologist. He or she may suggest a pelvic rehabilitation that strengthens your muscles and help you with painful sex and urinary leaking, which are very common after childbirth.
You can also notice that your libido dampen down after having a baby. It is completely normal for a few reasons. First of all you are probably exhausted. Second of all, while you are breastfeeding, your level of estrogen decreases as well as natural vaginal lubrication results in dryness in this area. The best solution is to use a lubricant.
Another concern is getting pregnant again right away. In theory, as long as you are breastfeeding, you don’t ovulate. But if you plan to wait with birth control for your first period, you can miscalculate. First postpartum period means that you’ve already ovulated, so if you’d had an unprotected sex during that time, you might be already pregnant. Talk in advance to your practitioner and choose contraception that will work best for you.
YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL
Last, but definitely not least: many women don’t feel very attractive after giving birth. There’s no denying, your body looks different because of the recent pregnancy. Every woman gets back in shape in her own time. Some look perfect in a just few months, whereas others fight additional pounds even years later. Adding to the list are stretch marks, cellulite and broken capillaries. Yet remember, they are evidence of your miracle of birth! Sexy scars from life. Don’t let anyone make you feel less attractive because of that and give yourself time to get back in shape.
Don’t force yourself into sex, but don’t let your fears deprive you from pleasure that comes with it. The longer you wait, the greater fear you feel. Sex brings you and your partner together giving a lot of pleasure and relaxation. Don’t take it away from yourself.
You should know that you are not alone and every one of us was or is going through the same. During my coaching session “For Moms” the acceptance of your own body and sexuality is one of the most important parts. These are the powerful elements of your self-esteem. Why is it so important? It affects your self-confidence and daily life.
All the best!