Having sex in pregnancy
If your partner’s pregnancy is going smoothly and you and your partner are keen, it’s OK to have sex. But many people find that they have less sex when they’re expecting a baby.
Sex during pregnancy can feel different from how it felt before. You might also worry that sex will harm the baby. But your baby is well protected and sealed off in the amniotic sac, so you can’t hurt your baby by having sex.
If you’re unsure about anything or if there are any problems – for example, your partner has some bleeding during pregnancy – talk with your GP, midwife or obstetrician. They’ll let you know whether it’s safe to have sex.
Sex in pregnancy: first trimester
In the early months of pregnancy, physical symptoms can reduce your partner’s desire for sex – for example, nausea, fatigue and sore breasts. Also, your partner might just feel less sexy or desirable.
Sex in pregnancy: second trimester
You might notice your partner has more energy for and interest in sex in the middle months of pregnancy.
Early pregnancy symptoms like nausea, fatigue and breast tenderness have probably calmed down. Your partner’s hormones, plus extra blood flow to sexual organs, might make it easier for your partner to be aroused.
But it’s also natural if your partner’s desire for sex decreases in the second trimester. This might be because your partner’s body shape is changing, and your partner has mixed feelings about these changes.
If you do have sex, let your partner take the lead in finding a comfortable sexual position.
Sex in pregnancy: third trimester
Sex for your very pregnant partner involves some physical challenges.
As the baby gets bigger, you might need to be creative and try different sexual positions. But your partner might be feeling too big, uncomfortable or tired to have sex.
Your partner might also feel less sexy than usual. And you might find that this doesn’t change, no matter how many compliments or kind words you give.
Just let your partner take the lead, and see what feels right for both of you.
You could try imagining how your partner feels physically. This might make it easier to understand your partner’s changing interest in sex.
Sex after birth
After your baby is born, you and your partner might want to feel close again. If your partner feels ready, it’s OK to have sex (unless a doctor has advised otherwise).
But it might be hard to find time for sex and intimacy when you’re busy caring for your baby’s needs. You might also be feeling overwhelmed or tired.
Also, your partner is also going through physical and emotional changes, which can affect the way your partner feels sexually. For example, after a vaginal birth, physical healing and recovery can take time. Also, changes to your partner’s hormones can mean less lubrication, which can make vaginal penetration painful and reduce sexual desire.
Many couples start to have sex again 6-8 weeks after birth, but some couples don’t start to have sex again for months.
If you’re in a heterosexual relationship, it’s a good idea to think about contraception before you start having sex again. Sometimes breastfeeding makes getting pregnant less likely, but there’s no guarantee. There’s a chance your partner could get pregnant if you’re having sex without using contraception.
Changes in your sexual relationship: how to handle them
If you or your partner don’t feel like having sex or if your health professional has advised you to avoid sex, you might just accept it. Or you might feel frustrated or disconnected.
No matter what you’re feeling, it can help to talk it through with your partner. This can help each of you understand what the other is going through and keep you connected.
It’s also important to be patient and recognise that this is a time of big changes for both of you.
In the meantime, you can build intimacy and be close in other ways. For example, you can kiss, hug, cuddle, give massages or take a bath together. Even a brief touch as you pass each other in the kitchen can remind you of your bond.
It can be hard to talk about issues in your sexual relationship. If you’re finding it hard, you can speak to a counsellor. You can also call Relationships Australia on 1300 364 277 or the Family Relationship Advice Line on 1800 050 321.