Is your pregnant belly the only reminder that you and your partner once had an active sex life? Sure, sex during and after pregnancy is definitely a new frontier, but it doesn’t have to be alien territory. Here’s a brief guide to keeping alive the sexual flame — and the spark of romance that lit up your libido in the first place.
1. Get ready for some changes. You may be sidelined by nausea, fatigue and your ever-expanding figure; your man may be inhibited by the baby’s presence and the transformation of your thighs from sculpted to upholstered. The climate in your bedroom may shift from torrid to chilly, and what always worked between the two of you might not work for a while.
That said, not all changes are necessarily negative. “I went on a photo shoot once with this supermodel when I was eight months pregnant,” says Susan S., a New York City writer. “The photographer paid a lot of attention to me, and I realized it was because I was so busty and voluptuous and felt really beautiful. If you enjoy the way you look, others will, too.”
2. Stick to the facts. Pregnancy begets misinformation about sex the way sex begets pregnancy. Don’t fall prey to the myths. Here are a few things you may not have known:
Most pregnant women do want sex. “I was as horny as a 17-year-old boy when I was pregnant,” reports Susan S. “It was all I thought about and all I wanted.”
Increased hormone production and blood flow to the genitals can create serious heat, especially in the second trimester. “I interviewed women who said they practically had orgasms just walking across the room,” says James Douglas Barron, author of She’s Having a Baby — and I’m Having a Breakdown. Try that when you’re not pregnant.
Sex is not dangerous. A Greek study published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology suggests that having intercourse late in pregnancy may increase the risk of preterm delivery. However, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists maintains that sex is safe during most pregnancies.
“It’s the rare pregnancy in which sex is unsafe,” agrees Shari Brasner, M.D., an obstetrician at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. “If you experience vaginal bleeding, placenta previa, preterm labor (or have a history of it) or ruptured membranes, you may need to abstain,” she says. The safest course is to check with your doctor first; it’ll put your (and your mate’s) mind at ease.
You can get pregnant before your period resumes. After giving birth, don’t count on breastfeeding or on an absence of periods for contraception.