Your mission: to stay intimate amid all the stellar explosions.
When I was asked to write about sex during pregnancy, I was thrilled. What a great service I could provide, I surmised, especially since I'd already been down that road twice. Now if only I could remember what having sex was like. I'm kidding. Your sex life will continue but, like the rest of your life, it will change. While pregnant sex varies from couple to couple, here's what I hear most often.
Month 1: On the launch pad
She's glowing, you're dazed. In short, you're both too overwhelmed to be very lustful. So don't be surprised if there's more tenderness than anything else. Also, lethargy, nausea and vomiting aren't turn-ons for anyone.
Month 2: Countdown
So much for the sexual layoff. You've begun calculating just how long it's been. To compound matters, her breasts have begun to grow at an alarming rate. (The rest of her body has yet to catch up.) You feel deprived and suddenly married to Dolly Parton, all at the same time.
Month 3: Start your engines
Her morning sickness is beginning to give way to horniness, which may lead to some pretty athletic sex. (Slightly sobering note: If any bleeding occurs, no intercourse until she has consulted her doctor.)
Month 4: Blastoff
Fasten your seat belts. Her libido is beginning to bloom, and she starts having sex dreams. Most often they don't include you, but why should you mind if a fantasy paramour inspires her to jump you?
Month 5: Decaying orbit
Oops. The same hormonal rushes that increase sexual desire also provoke mood swings. Expect to be in the doghouse for a variety of transgressions: folding your socks wrong, forgetting to pass the ketchup, getting her pregnant in the first place.
Month 6: Fire retro rockets
The obvious presence of a growing third party makes sex ... weird. This is not the ménage í trois you've fantasized about. The idea of harming the baby is frightening. But the cervix is sealed, protecting the fetus from infection, and the amniotic fluid and uterine walls shield the baby from even your most impressive thrusts. (Slightly sobering note No. 2: Avoid deep penetration if there's any bleeding.)
Month 7: To the moon
Blood flow really begins to increase where it counts — the same place as when she's aroused. That spells sexual sensitivity and orgasm with a capital O. She may experience intense, long-lasting climaxes that sometimes feature equally long-lasting aftershocks. Pretend that you actually had something to do with it.
Month 8: Docking in space
Her size is officially an impediment to sex. Frontal penetration is virtually impossible (unless, as Vicki Iovine writes in The Girlfriends' Guide to Pregnancy, you have a 24-inch penis). Solution: Try new positions. I'd tell you which are most successful but, hey, that would spoil your fun.
Month 9: Touchdown
With baby packed, ready and but a brief stork flight away, it's freak-out time again. (In other words, see Month 1, only without the vomiting.) Oh, and by the way: Say her water breaks at 6 a.m., and by noon she's still not in active labor. Stimulating her nipples and genitals can help bring on contractions. Warning: Don't expect her to return the favor.
When she starts to reconnect with her sexuality and gets a green light from her doctor — and, yes, when the baby stops crying for a few minutes — you will rediscover the bedroom (or wherever the baby isn't). Some couples take longer than others to do this; I've heard of men who were so transformed by what they observed in the delivery room that they took up to a year to move past those images. Others have gotten right back into the sexual swing without missing a beat. Here's hoping you'll be one of them.