Linda Jenkins, a nurse, childbirth educator and author, answers some common questions about sex during pregnancy.
Linda Jenkins, RN

Q: Is an increase or decrease in desire for sex normal during pregnancy?

A: In most situations, from sex to sewing, no two people react the same. This is especially true during pregnancy.

For many women, pregnancy has no significant effect on their interest in sex. In those women for whom contraception was an interruption or psychological obstacle, pregnancy may be a period of carefree and uninhibited sexual indulgence. At times, some women may feel they are "losing their figure and looks" during pregnancy. Feeling undesirable, they may shy away from lovemaking. Some women may desire sexual contact more often than is usual for them as a reassurance of their partner's love and of his attraction to their pregnant body.

Safety concerns
Q: Can vigorous intercourse harm the fetus?

A: It is virtually impossible to harm the fetus in the uterus. The fluid it floats in, the membranes containing it, the uterus itself, the abdominal wall, and the pelvic bones all cushion the fetus against injury.

Q: Is it harmful to have an orgasm during pregnancy?

A: Generally, orgasm is not harmful to your baby. However, if there is a history of premature labor, or some other problem, your health care provider may advise you to avoid orgasm or even intercourse.

Q: How often is it safe to have intercourse during pregnancy?

A: There is no ideal; whatever frequency suits you is safe. There is a remarkable difference in frequency from couple to couple, and from month to month for the same couple. Some women are relatively uninterested in intercourse in the first trimester, partly because of the frequent and extreme fatigue during this period. Many tend to regain their energy in the fourth month, and will often experience a new surge of sexual feelings and needs.

When can we have sex?
Q: Can I have intercourse any time during pregnancy?

A: Generally, intercourse is permitted throughout the pregnancy until the last few weeks, depending on the course of pregnancy. Some doctors feel that at the end of pregnancy, intercourse could possibly cause the membranes to rupture. Many others do not agree. Intercourse should be stopped and the physician consulted if the bag of waters has broken, if you experience vaginal bleeding, or if there is pain in the vagina or abdomen.

Different sensations
Q: Pressure during intercourse, although not painful, causes great discomfort. What can be done?

A: If it is simply a partner's weight causing the problem, a change of position might relieve it. Having the man kneel astride or approach from behind may be an alternative. Both of you on your knees or lying on your sides is another alternative that may work better. If the woman were to sit astride or lie on top, she would also be better able to control some of the pressure.

If internal pressure is felt, it would be wise to avoid deep penile penetration. Changing position or using pillows to elevate the hips and thus change the angle of entry into the vagina may help. Additional lubrication with a water-base gel made for this purpose may relieve any vaginal discomfort.

Baby Movement
Q: When the baby moves while we are making love, one of us usually ends up losing interest in what we started. Is that common?

A: Open, honest communication with each other is always essential. This is but another of those times. Discussing these feelings may help you realize you are unconsciously worried about hurting the baby. The fetus is well protected, not aware of what you are doing (other than moving around) and will not be hurt by your activity.

Newly discovered or re-discovered forms of intimacy may have profound effects on your relationship during the pregnancy as well as the parenthood period. Relax, experiment, and enjoy yourselves now and in

Tags: intimacy

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