Sex: during and after pregnancy
Pregnant, or just had a baby? Here are some facts you might like to know about sex.
So, you’re pregnant, or you’ve just had a baby. And the irony is that, while having sex got you in this position, right now you may find you’re less likely than ever to feel like getting frisky in the sack. And who can blame you, what with all the indignities of being pregnant and giving birth.
So how can you keep a bit of the passion alive? If you are currently pregnant, make the most of the second trimester – some of your symptoms will hopefully have subsided but you’re not yet so big that things are uncomfortable. Also, both increased blood flow and moistness (sorry) can actually make things more pleasurable. Just be prepared to experiment with different positions – you lying on your back is not going to work with a growing bump! And most importantly, talk to your partner – at least 50 per cent of first-time fathers-to-be are worried about hurting the baby if they have sex while their partner is pregnant. Reassure him that this will not happen.
And after you’ve given birth? It’s important to remember that it’s perfectly normal (not to mention advisable) not to feel like embarking on a marathon sex session as soon as you’re discharged from hospital. So don’t panic, be patient and make foreplay your new best friend until you are ready to get back on the horse, so to speak.
How soon should you have sex after birth?
Current medical advice is that it’s a good idea to wait until after your six-week check. It makes sense to let your GP give you the once-over before you restart any bedroom gymnastics – after all, when the placenta comes out it leaves a wound which needs time to heal. That said, a 2013 study by the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology found that 41 per cent of women said they had already had full vaginal sex before six weeks. Still an idea to get checked out first.
Did you know?
38% of new mums would choose a good night’s sleep over uninterrupted sex with their partner!
Seven reasons why pregnancy sex is the best!
1. It burns calories
Obviously how many calories depends on just how enthusiastic you are, but experts reckon on average about five every minute.
2. Can lower blood pressure
Which is great as high blood pressure is linked to pre-eclampsia. No promises though.
3. It improves sleep
Yes, both you and your baby will be better rested. For you it’s the hormone prolactin being released that makes you sleepy; for the baby it’s the gentle rocking motion.
4. It reduces pain
Having an orgasm also releases oxytocin which Barry R Komisaruk, a professor at Rutgers University, says can increase pain tolerance by up to 74 per cent.
5. It boosts immunity
‘Sexually active people take fewer sick days,’ says sexual health expert Yvonne Fulbright. This is due to increased levels of IgA, an antibody that helps you ward off colds and other infections.
6. It makes you happy
‘Sex and intimacy can boost your self-esteem,’ says psychiatrist Sheenie Ambardar. ‘It’s not only a prescription for a healthy life, but a happy one.’
7. Aids post-partum recovery
Sex is like a workout for your pelvic floor muscles. When you have an orgasm, it causes contractions in those muscles, which strengthens them. That can both prepare them for childbirth, and in turn help you recover more quickly.
Do - ditch your hangups!
- Given that baby is going to be sharing your bedroom for the first six months (if you follow current guidelines), and most couples restart their sex lives at about six weeks, you’re looking at a bit of a dilemma. Should you do it when baby is in the room?
- Now before you recoil in horror, consider that the little mite is used to the sounds of your body (he’s been on the inside) so any noise will not disturb him (in any sense). And if he does wake up, he won’t know what you’re doing, so he’s not going to judge you!
- That said, if you just find the whole thing too weird, you’re not likely to relax and enjoy yourself. Our advice – get creative, wait until nap time and sneak off to another room. Kitchen table, anyone?
Don't - go there...
- Ok, listen up, this is important. While you’re pregnant and in the weeks after, it may seem like a good idea to indulge in some oral sex (him giving it to you), as it’s got to be one of the most gentle sex acts on the menu. But please try to refrain.
- Why? Well, for one it could introduce infection into your vagina and womb, but rather more seriously, it could kill you! Yes, really. Cases are rare but if air is accidentally blown into the womb (easy to do when you’ve just given birth), it could cause an ‘air embolism’ and they have proven fatal. Told you you need to know this.
- It’s Ok for you to perform oral sex on him though (what a surprise).
Post birth... FIVE tips for getting back in the sack
1. Talk to your partner both about how you feel about your changed body and how you might like (or hate) being touched now. For example, pre-baby you may have enjoyed having your breasts caressed but suddenly they may feel like a no-go area. He can’t guess this stuff.
2. Don't rush into penetrative sex. If you go full tilt before you’re ready you won’t enjoy it. That said, make sure you have plenty of intimate moments – both of you really need to feel the love right now. If nothing else, try to manage a kiss and cuddle before you nod off at night.
3. When you are ready, you may need to use lubricant, even if you didn’t need it before you got pregnant. The hormones zooming around your body after you’ve given birth can lead to vaginal dryness (who tells you this stuff?).
4. Experiment with positions that limit penetration. Until you feel comfortable, it’s probably best that you’re the one in control of this. Never been on top? Now is the time to try. And if you’ve had a C-section, positions with him behind you may be your new best friend.
5. Don't forget contraception. You probably don’t want to get pregnant again immediately, do you? So wise up, there are at least 15 types out there so there must be one that suits you.
Our cute couples feature in Knit Your Own Karma Sutra (£12.99, Apple Press). Out now.