While there are plenty of tips out there for getting pregnant, there seems to be a lot less info about having sex when you’re pregnant. While our culture tends to put pregnant people up on a pedestal, the reality is that you’re likely going to want to get down and dirty sometime during those nine months. But what’s okay? What’s not okay? What can you expect when you’re expecting?
Kaci A. Mial, M.Ed., CSC, a pregnancy sex coach and educator, tells Ohnut that everyone is likely to have their own unique experience when it comes to sex and pregnancy.
“There are a whole bunch of hormone changes in the body during pregnancy,” Mial says. “You might have known your body before, but when pregnancy comes it might feel like you’re navigating a whole other body.”
Sex During Pregnancy
When it comes to sex during pregnancy, the only thing you can be sure of is that it’s going to be different — in some way.
“There are all types of physiological, emotional, and spiritual changes going on,” Mial says. “It all depends person-to-person whether you’re going to feel better or worse.”
Pregnancy + Sexual Desire
Some pregnant people experience an increase in desire, while others experience a drop. Mial says that it’s even common for desire to fluctuate during the pregnancy. For many people, the second trimester is the “sweet spot” for desire, as the tumult of early pregnancy has passed but the more intense body changes haven’t happened yet.
“Some people have an increase in desire and that could be due to hormones,” Mial says. “Or some people’s breasts become fuller and that is sexy to some; that can make you feel more at home in your body or more desirable. It could also feel great to experience the pleasure and happiness if you’re excited about bringing a new life into the world and that brings you closer with your partner or partners.”
Pregnancy + Lubrication
Lubrication can also be an issue for pregnant people, with some people experiencing much less and some experiencing much more. Those experiencing less shouldn’t hesitate to reach for the lube, while those experiencing more might want to designate a couple of towels just for play time.
"Squishing" the Baby
A lot of people are also concerned about hurting or “squishing” the fetus or baby if they have sex while they’re pregnant. In the vast majority of cases, Mial says, that’s not going to happen. That’s because there are layers of protection between a penetrating object or partner’s penis and the fetus. That includes the cervix (which blocks off the end of the vaginal canal and holds everything inside the uterus), mucus plugs, and amniotic fluid. “Everything baby needs to remain safe and healthy is there,” Mial says.
There are, of course, exceptions to that rule. If your health care provider or midwife has informed you of a health complication that makes it unsafe to have penetrative sex, then it’s important to follow their guidance. Instead, take it as an opportunity to explore other, non-penetrative sex acts like kissing, stroking, oral sex, or whatever else makes you and your partner(s) feel good.
Sex Positions for Pregnancy
Every body is different — and even every pregnancy is different — but Mial does have some recommendations for having sex (comfortably) while you’re pregnant.
1. Pregnant Person On Top
A great position to try is the pregnant person on top. This not only reduces any lingering concerns about squishing the baby, but also allows the pregnant person to control the depth of penetration.
“Depending on the size of the belly, it helps keep it out of the way and you can control the depth of penetration,” Mial says. “The thought behind that is it could reduce pain or have the person feel like they’re more in control.”
Mial says that in the second or third trimester, when the belly is bigger, doggy-style can also be a good option. The pregnant person can be on their hands and knees, allowing space between the body and the bed for the belly to hang, and their partner enters from behind.
“Then also it’s not putting a lot of pressure on the non-pregnant person on top to worry about squishing the baby,” Mial says.
3. On the Edge of the Bed
“Missionary” position — or face-to-face sex, with the penetrating partner on top — can be tricky during pregnancy, especially in the second and third trimesters. In the first trimester, it’s still pretty doable but, once that belly gets big, options become more limited. With that in mind, Mial suggests the pregnant person lie on the edge of the bed or couch while their partner kneels or stands on the floor in front of them.
“This gives space for the belly and provides an opportunity to play with the breasts, if that’s what you’re interested in, as well as eye-gazing and all of that more intimate stuff,” Mial says.
4. On Your Side
Another classic: spooning or with both partners on their sides, with the pregnant person as the “little spoon.” In this position, the pregnant person doesn’t have to support the belly at all and neither partner has to worry about squishing it. The penetrating partner can also easily reach around the pregnant person to stimulate their clitoris, providing extra pleasure without added physical stress on either person.
Finally, the best sex position when you’re pregnant is going to be the best sex position for you. So experiment! Try things out! Get creative! Treat this time as an opportunity to explore — and don’t hesitate to stop or switch things up if they’re not working.
And, one more thing: It’s also totally okay to not want to have sex during any time — or even the whole time! — of your pregnancy. Keep communication open with your partner(s) and you’ll be good no matter how active your sex life is.