Barring any specific medical conditions like bleeding, high blood pressure or pre-term labor, physical intimacy is a healthy part of a committed relationship – even when you’re pregnant.
“It’s not the only part of a relationship, but it’s certainly a significant part,” says Robert Goldfarb, M.D., an obstetrician/gynecologist at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital.
Actually, some doctors and health care professionals even encourage sex for women who are close to their due date, because the prostaglandins in semen soften the cervix in preparation for labor. Still, being pregnant may mean you have to make a couple of adjustments – physically and emotionally.
Communication is key
Goldfarb says there can be difficulties getting intimate when a woman is pregnant because some couples can get psyched out of having sex. Fear that you’ll harm the baby or that the baby will “know” what you’re doing are common, but unfounded, Goldfarb says.
Your abdomen and muscle walls protect your baby, who’s cushioned by the fluid of the amniotic sack and won’t feel anything that dad and mom are doing. Body issues can come into play, as well.
No matter the cause, though, communication is key. Find out what the both of you are comfortable and uncomfortable with, then work to create a happy middle.
Overcoming physical changes
Your body goes through many changes during pregnancy, which means you’ll probably have to adjust some physical aspects of making love when you’re pregnant. You might want to experiment more with positions that don’t put pressure on your uterus, such as getting on top, spooning, or even resting on your hands and knees to relieve pressure from the pelvis.
Certain actions or positions may be less comfortable, but being pregnant doesn’t mean sex has to be painful for mom. You may experience cramping and contractions after ejaculation in the vagina, but it should go away.
Sex after pregnancy is also possible, but you should probably wait for at least a while after giving birth before giving it a go.
“One of the things we tell people is to refrain from sexual activity for about six weeks or so to give time to heal, let the bleeding subside,” Goldfarb says.
Take heart: You’ll likely be too tired that first six weeks after baby is born to even think about sex with your spouse.
This post was originally published in 2012 and has been updated for 2016.