Making Love While Pregnant
Safety and positions
An incompetent cervix is when the opening of the birth canal dilates, or opens, prematurely with little advance warning. Signs of this dilation include bleeding, increased mucous discharge, and/or abdominal pain.
Women who have a history of premature labor are advised not to have intercourse in the last trimester of their pregnancy for several reasons. For one, orgasms do cause the uterus to contract (that's why even masturbation and oral sex are out). Also, stimulation of a pregnant woman's nipples releases a natural chemical called oxytocin, a hormone that causes uterine contractions. And finally, semen contains prostaglandins, which can stimulate contractions. In a normal pregnancy, these uterine contractions cannot trigger labor, but if you are at risk for a premature birth, you might be told to abstain from sex as a safety precaution.
If your partner seems less interested in sex as you move into the third trimester, don't assume it's because he thinks you're fat or aren't sexy. Many men take on a more protective role at this time and don't want to hurt you or the baby. Talk about any changes in your partner's attitude toward sex before you assume anything.
The fear of hurting the baby during intercourse has kept many couples apart during pregnancy. But fear not—no matter how well endowed your partner might be, the thrusting of the penis into the vagina cannot hurt your baby. He is safely cushioned in an amniotic fluid-filled sac and surrounded by the strong muscles of the uterus. The entrance to the womb is protected by a closed cervix, which has a mucous plug at the entrance to keep out all intruding bacteria or sperm. You might notice that the baby moves around a bit more after intercourse, but that's because of the pounding of your heart, not because he knows what's going on or is bothered by it.
The safety of the pregnancy is another concern for some couples. There are many myths and stories about how intercourse brings on premature labor, but the truth is you can make love day and night for all nine months and it still wouldn't have an effect on the delivery date of your baby, if your pregnancy is normal. (Anyone want to give it a try?)
However, there are circumstances in which women are advised to avoid intercourse. Every situation is unique and you should talk to your doctor before making any decisions about sexual abstinence, but generally, women in the following circumstances are advised to proceed with caution:
- Placenta previa (when the placenta covers the cervix and could be damaged)
- Unexplained vaginal bleeding or discharge
- An incompetent cervix
- A premature dilation, or opening, of the cervix
Sometimes sexual abstinence is necessary only at certain times during the pregnancy. Your doctor might advise that you abstain…
- During the first trimester if you have a history of miscarriage.
- During the last two to three months if you have a history of premature birth.
- During the last three months when carrying multiples.
All women must abstain from sex after the water sac has broken or the mucous plug is passed. These are the protectors of the womb; after they are gone, the baby is vulnerable to infection. Also, if you notice any unusual symptoms during or following intercourse, such as pain or discharge, you should call your doctor before having sex again.
If your doctor advises you to abstain from intercourse, remember that sex is more than vaginal intercourse. It is being close, holding, hugging, and massaging. If intercourse is prohibited, but orgasm is allowed, you can enjoy oral sex and mutual masturbation. All of these things and more can keep you close to your husband and nurture your love.
In the beginning of your pregnancy, when your belly is still small, you and your partner can continue lovemaking without any change in positioning. But as the baby grows, you might find that it gets awkward and uncomfortable to lie underneath your partner during sex. If that happens, don't give up—get creative. This is a wonderful excuse to try new positions. Many pregnant couples find the following most satisfying:
- Woman on top. If you take the top spot, you can control how much pressure you put on your abdomen and also the depth of penetration.
- Side-by-side. Lying on your side with your partner lying behind you, his chest against your back, keeps your abdomen completely away from the action and allows for only shallow penetration, which some women prefer later in pregnancy.
- On all fours. If you kneel on your hands and knees, your partner can kneel behind you, spoon his body around yours, and enter your vagina from behind.
- On the edge. Sit near the edge of your bed, lie back and put your feet up on the bed. Your partner can stand, kneel, or crouch in front of you.
- Lap sitting. As your partner sits in a chair, sit on his lap (either facing him or putting your back against his chest). With your feet on the floor, you can move yourself to control the depth of penetration.
That's a good start—now you can take it from here. Be inventive, creative, and have some fun.
Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth © 2004 by Michele Isaac Gliksman, M.D. and Theresa Foy DiGeronimo. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
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