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Sex During Pregnancy: Will it Hurt the Baby?

Let’s talk about SEX!

If you’re pregnant, well, you’ve had sex.  That’s how you got here, right?  But having sex before you’re pregnant and after you’re pregnant is, ah…not the same.  Some women don’t even want to anymore (sorry, guys).  Some want it more than ever.  But an overriding concern, for both women and men, is “will it hurt the baby?”

So…will it?

The First Trimester

No.  It won’t hurt the baby.  You might feel like you could, but you won’t.  The baby is so tiny at this point that there is nothing could do to it.  You probably don’t even feel that different yet, size-wise (no tummy getting in your way).  The only exception here is if you are at risk for a miscarriage, and your doctor has asked you to refrain from sex.  Both nipple stimulation and the natural prostaglandins in semen could cause some contractions and problems for women who are very, very sensitive and high-risk.  This is not the case for the vast majority of women.

Just because it won’t hurt the baby…doesn’t mean you’ll be into it, though!  The first trimester is notorious for producing very sore breasts, some cramping (normal), nausea, and exhaustion.  So sex may be the furthest thing from your mind.  If so, ask your husband if he wouldn’t mind just cuddling with you instead.  It’s important to stay connected even when you’re exhausted, and snuggling together will help even if you just can’t think of doing more.  That’s okay!  It will come….

The Second Trimester

By now you should be getting your energy back and feeling less nauseous.  Even some women who may have been at risk of miscarriage may have been given the green-light from their doctors that it’s okay to engage in sex again.  Yay!  Right?

You still cannot hurt the baby.  I promise.  It will be getting bigger, and by the end of this trimester, in the way.  You may find that you are not comfortable in a standard missionary position, or even woman-on-top at this point because of your belly.  You might need to get a little creative with some side-lying or other positions that don’t require your belly to pressed against your husband. 

It may feel very uncomfortable if your husband does press on your belly at this time.  But it shouldn’t hurt (at least once he moves!).  It definitely will not cause any lasting damage or hurt the baby in any way.  It may, however, make the baby a little crazy (what is that?!) and start moving around quite a bit.  Yes, poking your baby will get his attention.  (And no…your husband cannot poke him in the head with his penis.  The cervix is up high and out of the way, and there’s a good couple inches of it before your baby’s head.  Likely your husband can’t even reach the baby.)

The Third Trimester

Oh, this one’s fun!  By now you’re starting to feel very big and ungainly.  You’re tired again, and probably peeing constantly (as you walk out of the bathroom: “Wait, did I just pee?  I think I need to go again”).  Sex may be difficult at this point, and you will definitely have to be creative.

But still…you won’t hurt the baby!

Don’t lie on your back for any length of time now, because the baby can compress your nerves and your lungs, both making it hard to breathe and restricting blood flow.  It’s fine to lie half-tipped to your side, or on your back at an angle (think lots of pillows).  Your baby is probably actively and frequently moving at this point, so you may find sex difficult.  It may “excite” your baby!  (Don’t tell your husband that.  He might find it a total turn-off!)

Late in your third trimester, sex could help start labor.  The prostaglandins in semen can help ripen your cervix for dilation, and nipple stimulation releases oxytocin, which can start contractions.  Not a bad idea if you’re full-term and wondering if any “home remedies” might work!  Certainly more fun than many options (well, maybe not at this point, since you’re so big!).

It’s important to note that after your baby drops, sex may be uncomfortable and your husband probably could “poke the baby.”  But this won’t hurt him.  Your husband’s penis isn’t hard enough, and he’ll probably be so worried about hurting you and the baby that he will be careful.  And this would only happen in the last days or so before birth.

It’s also important to note that if your water has broken, you should not have sex.  This is the only case where you actually could hurt the baby.  Once your mucus plug is gone and your water has broken, there is nothing protecting the baby.  Anything foreign that is introduced into your vagina could cause an infection (and that includes vaginal exams).  At this point, though, you’re probably in labor and sex is the furthest thing from your mind!

Husbands

Many husbands are very afraid of hurting the baby.  They don’t want to press on you too hard, and they don’t want to “poke” the baby.  Reassure your husband that he cannot reach the baby to “poke” it, and that as long as he is careful and listening to your guidance, he will not hurt you.  Even if he does inadvertently hurt you, the baby is so well protected within your body (through walls of skin, fat, muscle, and the amniotic fluid) that it will not hurt.  It would be like if you were wearing a suit made of bubble wrap and someone poked you — you’d feel it, but it sure wouldn’t hurt!

So…are you worried about hurting the baby, or is your husband?

Top image by Mrs. Duncan

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