Self Care for Mothers and Partners
There may be changes in your sexual relationship, but it is possible for a couple going through pregnancy and parenthood to have an intimate relationship. Pregnancy may be a time to experiment. Find comfortable activities that please both of you.
Is sex during pregnancy safe?
Normally, sex does not harm the baby. However, if sex is painful, talk with your health care provider.
Are there some situations when we shouldn’t have sex?
Most couples can have sex right up until active labour. Your health care provider may advise you to avoid vaginal intercourse if you have conditions such as:
- the placenta is over the cervix (placenta previa)
- your ‘water’ has broken (or your membranes have ruptured)
- the cervix is opening early
- there is a history of preterm labour before or during this pregnancy
Even if you have been advised to avoid intercourse, there are many other ways to have an intimate and loving relationship with your partner.
Will desire change in pregnancy?
Both women and men experience a change in their level of interest in sex during pregnancy. Some will find they have an increased desire for sex. Others will not. Women may find their breasts and vulva are more sensitive and orgasms are more intense. Other women find they are too tired and nauseated, and have to struggle to adapt to their changing bodies. Some partners may not want to have sex, thinking it may harm the baby or start labour.
Tips for Having Sex
- Uncomfortable? Try positions you do not normally use, and use pillows to help support where needed. When the baby has engaged in the pelvis, the woman can try lying, crouching, or kneeling with her back to her partner so he enters her from behind.
- Too tired? Try the morning, afternoon, or a time when you are more rested.
- Breasts leaking? Try wearing a padded nursing bra.
Tips for Partners
Use questions to keep communication open:
- Is this position still comfortable for you at this stage?
- What can I do to make this better?
- Does this hurt?
- Are you worried about the baby?
- Would you like to try something else?
Check in frequently during sex to be sure your partner is comfortable and enjoying the experience.
What about orgasm?
A mother’s orgasm can trigger the uterus to contract. This can happen even with masturbation or oral sex. However, this usually does not affect the baby. Contractions normally stop after a few minutes. If you have a risk for preterm labour, you may be advised by your health care provider to avoid orgasms during your pregnancy.
Is oral sex OK?
Oral sex can be an alternative to vaginal sex. Two points to remember are:
- Don’t let your partner blow air into your vagina because it can cause an air bubble in your blood stream. This is a very serious complication.
- Do not have oral sex if your partner has a cold sore (herpes virus) because the virus can infect you.
Will sex start labour?
Not unless you are ready to go into labour already or are at risk for preterm labour. If your baby is due, sex may help your body get ready for labour because:
- Semen contains a hormone called prostaglandin that may help start contractions and soften the cervix.
- Stimulation of the nipples by rubbing, rolling, or sucking releases the hormone oxytocin. This can also cause the uterus to contract. You will notice these as after pains when you first start breastfeeding after birth.
- Orgasm can cause the uterus to contract.