What about sex?

Can we have sex while my wife is pregnant, how will my wife’s body change after birth, and when can we have sex again?

Sex During Pregnancy

  • Most women can continue to have sex up until they go into labor. Sexual activity will not hurt the baby. The baby is kept safe by the amniotic sac, cervix, and uterine muscle. There is also a thick mucous plug that seals the cervix and protects the baby from infection.
  • It is normal for sexual desire in women to decrease in the first trimester due to breast tenderness, fatigue nausea. Other women find the freedom of not having to worry about birth control or conceiving makes sex more enjoyable. By the second trimester, many women feel less nausea and experience heightened sexual desire.
  • Fathers can support and/or raise their partner’s self-esteem about their changing body by offering positive comments.
  • As the body changes during pregnancy, couples may need to try different sexual positions to find what is comfortable for her. Some women discover new or increased sexual pleasures during pregnancy because of such experimentation. “Spooning” while sitting up offers plenty of room for manual stimulation, side-lying allows for comfortable oral stimulation, and experimenting with pillows and support devices can help enhance and support a variety of positions and activities.
  • Due to a sense of fullness, some women find vaginal penetration uncomfortable at some points during pregnancy and opt for manual, oral, or self- pleasuring sex instead.
  • Some cramping after making love is normal throughout pregnancy. The uterus contracts during orgasm and these contractions might be more noticeable during pregnancy as the uterus gets bigger.
  • If the partner is at risk of experiencing pregnancy complications (vaginal bleeding, leakage of amniotic fluid, etc) the health provider will advise you to stop having sex. Be open with your health provider and ask what sexual activity can be done instead.
Excerpted from Chapter 6: Relationships, Sex, and Emotional Support in Our Bodies, Ourselves: Pregnancy and Birth © 2008 Boston Women's Health Book Collective

Sex After Pregnancy

Both of you are getting used to having a baby around. Your wife may be just as nervous about being a parent as you are. Make sure you talk to each other. Talking about your feelings can help keep you both from feeling hurt and frustrated. As soon as you can, make time for just the two of you. Ask someone you trust to take care of the baby for an hour or two and go for a walk or out to dinner.

Generally, it is OK to have sex 4-6 weeks after birth, although not everyone waits that long, and not everyone is ready that soon. If your wife had a difficult birth, she might need longer to physically recover. Even if she is ready physically, she might not be ready emotionally. Having a baby is a hormonal rollercoaster for your wife, and she may need more time to adjust. She also might be afraid of pain and could be tired from the demands of her newborn. Even if you don’t have sex, you can still be intimate; stroking, kissing, masturbation and oral sex are all be options if your wife is interested.

Your wife might feel self conscious of her body after having a baby. So remind her that she is beautiful, and make her feel like a woman. Generally, it takes first-time mothers 6-12 months to get back to their pre-pregnancy weight, and don’t be surprised if your wife still ‘looks pregnant’ for a few months after birth. Sex might also feel different. Often women experience vaginal dryness due to hormonal changes (not because she isn’t turned on by you), so use a lubricant. Let your wife control the pace and show you what is the most comfortable position for her. She may be sensitive, sore, or scared of pain. Don’t worry, your sex life will return to normal soon enough.

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