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Making Love While Pregnant

The moment you become pregnant, sex changes. It's hard to put into words or explain why, but changing the goal of sex from procreation to recreation changes feelings, attitudes, desires, and ultimately even lovemaking positions. The wacky thing about this is that the changes are unique to each couple. There's no telling if you'll now crave sex more, or if it will become a complete turnoff. Every woman is different in this area (and every man, too!). Only one thing is for sure: Whatever you feel about sex during pregnancy, it is perfectly normal and should not be hidden from your partner. This is one subject you both need to talk about throughout the pregnancy.

Sexy Feelings

Daddy Alert!

Your own feelings about sex might have changed now that your partner is pregnant. Some men find pregnancy highly erotic. Others see their sex drive take a dive as they struggle with the physical changes their partner is experiencing. The transformation of lover into mother can be disconcerting. Some men lose interest because they're worried about hurting the baby. Whatever your feelings, rest assured that you're not the first to go through this. Talk honestly to your partner; she, too, is probably struggling with a changing sex drive.

If you suddenly can't get enough of your lover now that you're pregnant, there's a good reason or two for this. You no longer have the worry of getting pregnant or using cumbersome birth-control devices. You might also find that pregnancy has made you feel closer than ever to your husband. Many women find their blossoming bodies very sensual and the idea of carrying a new life inside very erotic. It's even true that some women experience more intense orgasms (or even their first orgasm) during pregnancy; this might happen because the increased blood flow to the pelvic area during pregnancy can heighten sensation in the genitals.

If you suddenly can't stand the thought of sex, there's good reason for this, too. The fatigue and nausea of the first trimester can be strong libido zappers. And feeling fat, awkward, and clumsy later in the pregnancy isn't exactly an aphrodisiac. Some women also struggle with the change of roles from "lover" to "mother." The parts of the body that used to be fun are now working in a very functional manner. Your breasts might feel sore and swollen. And the increased flow of blood to your vagina might make you feel overly sensitive in that area. Some women even experience abdominal cramps during or after intercourse. And finally, you might worry about hurting the baby. All these things make it perfectly natural to shy away from sexual intercourse.

If you find your interest in sex is changing, whether you want more or less, talk to your partner about it. Don't bottle up your feelings. They'll never be resolved unless you make an effort to get them out into the open. Being honest about your own feelings will encourage your partner to do the same. Men have changing sexual needs during pregnancy, too. You might find that this gives you both an opportunity to find new and more satisfying ways to make love.

Safety First

Baby Talk

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.

Pregnancy Facts

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.

Hey Mom!

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:

Sometimes sexual abstinence is necessary only at certain times during the pregnancy. Your doctor might advise that you abstain…

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.

Creative Positioning

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:

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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