Does it hurt? Can the baby feel it? Will I go into labor? In their childbirth education classes, most couples are bursting with questions about whether it's safe to have sex during the last trimester of pregnancy.
Advice on sexual behavior during this period in a couple's life depends not only on medical circumstances, but also on the individuals involved. In most cases, it's safe to continue to make love throughout pregnancy, but all couples should check with their health care provider.
Intercourse won't rupture membranes and there's no evidence that it causes premature labor in the last three months. Studies have found no difference in birth weight, length of pregnancy or fetal health related to intercourse in the last trimester. You may have heard that the hormone prostaglandin ‑- sometimes used to soften the cervix in early labor ‑- is present in semen and could cause you to have your baby prematurely. Semen does contain minute amounts of prostaglandin, but usually not enough to induce labor.
Each couple's experience ‑- and relationship ‑- is unique. Some reactions to intimacy, especially late in pregnancy, are included in the following chart:
- Fear of harming the fetus or causing premature labor or rupture of membranes.
- Loss of interest in sex and feelings of unattractiveness.
- Worry about health care provider's taboos, particularly in the third trimester.
- Delight in sharing physical changes with partner.
- Discovery of new positions for lovemaking and new ways of pleasuring.
- Increased sensitivity of sexual organs.
- Physical awkwardness.
- Fear of harming the fetus.
- Decreased desire for sex.
- Worry that health care provider may advise abstinence.
- Love of physical changes in partner's body.
- New positions and new ways of pleasuring.
- Continued freedom from worry about contraception.
- The healing of an episiotomy. Kegel exercises will help speed recovery.
- Vaginal dryness, especially when breastfeeding. Use a water-soluble personal lubricant.
- Slower sexual response due to a temporary hormonal imbalance. Take your time.
- Extreme fatigue. Sleep deprivation, hormonal changes and the anxiety of handling a newborn take their toll. Good communication is crucial.
- Lack of spontaneity. It can be difficult to abandon yourselves in each other while listening for the baby's cry.
- Try for when you think the baby will sleep.
For women, pregnancy often creates an increased need for physical affection ‑- a craving that may be greater than the desire for sexual satisfaction. Finding pleasure in each other's body by cuddling, holding and discovering new positions and new ways of pleasuring are also part of sexuality, and pregnancy is a wonderful time to explore these other aspects of making love.
This doesn't mean that intercourse isn't often welcome. In fact, many women experience added sensitivity during pregnancy and feel that their orgasms last longer than when they were not pregnant.
Sex after Birth
When can you resume sexual relations? Although sex is generally okayed by your health care provider six weeks following birth, some women feel comfortable after two and others don't for a while. In some cases, intercourse can be painful even after three months.
Common Causes of Discomfort
Take your time. You will gradually become more relaxed and your sex life will return to normal. Love, understanding, gentleness, patience and good communication are all essential during this period.