Along with your appetite and energy, your interest in sex may have decreased in early pregnancy. As your nausea and fatigue decrease, you may find yourself desiring more physical intimacy with your partner. Or perhaps you feel like a stranger in your changing body and find yourself avoiding sexual intimacy. The whole range of changes in libido can be normal, but it helps to dispel myths about sex. This also is a good time to explore how your thoughts about sex reflect deeper feelings about your body or your relationships. Do you have concerns about how sex will affect the baby or the pregnancy? Are you trying to figure out what positions are comfortable as your belly expands?
Myth: Once a woman finds out she is pregnant, she is more likely to enjoy sexual intimacy.
Reality: Since the concerns of getting pregnant and wondering if your birth control is going to work are gone, you may be more spontaneous in lovemaking. However, stress from pressure at work, financial concerns, ambivalence about being pregnant or feeling trapped by work or family obligations, may make your pregnancy less joyful. Also, nausea, fatigue and your changing body may make you feel unattractive or uninterested in sex. Talk with your partner about how you’re feeling. Consider finding sensual fulfilment in other ways, such as cuddling, holding hands, giving each other a massage or sharing a shower.
Myth: Men always want sex, even throughout pregnancy.
Reality: Many men are less interested in sex during pregnancy. Some expectant fathers fear that they could harm the baby or cause a miscarriage. Some find that feeling their baby kicking them during sexual activity is distracting. Others feel they are no longer alone with their partner and the baby is aware of what they are doing.
Keep the lines of communication open with your partner. You may think you know what your partner is feeling, but unless you really talk with him about it, you might misunderstand why your sexual relationship has changed. Accept and validate his feelings. If he has fears, give him information that will ease his mind. Use good sense in intimacy to find what works for the two of you and what feels best.
Myth: Studies have shown that avoiding intercourse in early pregnancy helps prevent miscarriage.
Reality: No studies have actually been done in this area, but there is no biological reason that it should be true. Prenatal care providers usually recommend no sexual intercourse in the first three months of pregnancy if a woman has any spotting or has had several miscarriages. After the first trimester, it’s generally considered safe to resume sexual relations. Be sure to ask your provider when you can start having sex again if you have had to abstain for any reason. Sometimes they forget to lift the restrictions!
Myth: Sex during pregnancy can cause problems for you or your baby.
Reality: Sex can cause problems, but only under certain conditions, such as:
- You are experiencing complications such as a threatened or inevitable miscarriage in the first trimester,
- You have a placenta previa (the placenta covers your cervix),
- You have a history of multiple miscarriages,
- Your partner has a sexually transmitted infection,
- You have signs of premature labour, or
- Your waters have broken.
Unless your care provider specifically recommends that you avoid having sex, you can be open to the pleasure your changing body may bring.
Myth: Women become increasingly less interested in sex as their bellies grow.
Reality: Women’s interest in sex may decrease in the first three months of pregnancy, but returns dramatically in the second trimester. During the middle months of pregnancy, you can expect your energy and interest in sex to increase as your nausea and fatigue decrease. Also, increased blood supply in the tissues of your vagina may give you a constant feeling of gentle arousal. The growth of your belly offers you and your partner an opportunity to explore different positions for sex that you might not have tried before.
Myth: Lovemaking can start labour.
Reality: Semen is rich in prostaglandins, a type of hormone that can start labour. Female orgasm causes contractions and also can trigger labour. But both of these will work only when a woman’s body and baby are ready. Otherwise, lovemaking and orgasm won’t start labour. If your due date is here and your care provider is recommending induction, you might find lovemaking a more joyous way of starting labour. Add some breast stimulation and you’re producing your own supply of oxytocin, a hormone involved in starting labour. If you’ve had premature labour, you’ve noticed spotting or have other concerns, talk with your care provider about whether you should avoid intercourse.
Myth: Sex is too awkward in the last few months of pregnancy.
Reality: If you and your partner are used to making love in certain positions, you may find that you need to change your routine as your belly grows. Positions that place the full weight of your belly on your partner’s abdomen will be too uncomfortable for both of you. Be creative!
So what’s going on with your baby this week?
Well, he or she is nearly 4 centimetres long and the size of a prune. Bones and cartilage are forming, and small indentations on the legs are developing into knees and ankles. Their tiny arms (complete with elbows) can flex already! Your baby’s teeth are starting to form under the gums, his or her stomach is producing digestive juices, the kidneys are producing larger quantities of urine, and, if your baby’s a boy, he’s already producing testosterone.
Some great reading:
Lamaze International believes pregnancy is an opportunity to begin forming a life-long bond with your baby. Read about Lamaze’s approach to pregnancy.
CenteringPregnancy® is a model of prenatal care that originated in the United States in the mid-1990s and is slowly gaining popularity worldwide. The University of Technology in Sydney did a pilot study on how this model would work in Australia recently and they had some very positive results.
Watch this to learn more.
Follow Lamaze International’s Tips for a Healthy Pregnancy.
Weekly Birth Inspiration
“If you were told you could have one of the most physically, emotionally, and spiritually transcendent moments of your life and here’s the map to get there, would you really say no?” ~ Elizabeth Davis, BA, CPM
I look forward to this transition in my journey as a woman and I’m excited about this next phase of my life.
About Tanya Strusberg
Tanya Strusberg is the only Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator (LCCE) in Australia and teaches prenatal education to pregnant women and their partners in Melbourne.
She and her husband Doron have two beautiful children, Liev and Amalia.
To learn more visit www.birthwellbirthright.com
About Katrina Zaslavsky
Katrina Zaslavsky is the passionate founder of Birth Goddess, author of A Modern Woman’s Guide to A Natural Empowering Birth (featured nationally, paperback available in bookstores Australia-wide, direct via http://shop.inspiringbirthstories.com.au/shop-online/or as a kindle e-book on Amazon) birth columnist, speaker and committee member for Natural Parenting Melbourne. Her calling is to awaken people to live a more conscious, natural lifestyle and especially to empower women to discover their inner birth goddess!
Profoundly impacted by her own personal journey into motherhood, Katrina provides an empowering birth community, resources, workshops and products including her book, Birth Goddess Cards and the newly launched Empowering Birth Magazine to support women to give birth the way nature intended- fear free, drug free and even pain free!
Join the empowering birth community: https://www.facebook.com/KatBirthGoddess
Browse the blog: http://www.birthgoddess.com.au/