We’re always hearing that we could be having better sex, a better orgasm, or a better relationship. But how often do we hear the nitty-gritty of how we can actually better understand our deepest desires and most embarrassing questions? Bustle has enlisted Vanessa Marin, a sex therapist, to help us out with the details. No gender, sexual orientation, or question is off limits, and all questions remain anonymous. Now, onto this week's question: having a healthy sex life when you're pregnant.
Q: “My boyfriend and I expecting our first child (I’m five months pregnant). We had a healthy sex life before I got pregnant, but since we found out about the pregnancy, my boyfriend seems to have lost his interest in sex (and me). He says he’s just afraid sex will hurt the baby, but I worry that he’s not attracted to my body anymore. Meanwhile, I’ve never felt hornier, so his disinterest is driving me nuts.“
A: First of all, congrats! This must be such an exciting time for you both, even with these frustrations you’re experiencing with your sex life. Sex during pregnancy really doesn’t need to be that difference than sex when you’re not pregnant, but a lot of people can get unnecessarily stressed about it. Here are six tips for having a healthy sex life while you’re pregnant.
1. Tell Them To Relax
Sex during pregnancy is safe. It’s generally fine to have intercourse up until the very moment your water breaks. You’re not going to harm your fetus by having intercourse (and no, your boyfriend isn’t going to “poke” the fetus with his penis). All of the usual benefits of sex and orgasm still apply — lower blood pressure, better sleep, less pain, fewer headaches. Plus, some women find that they're more easily orgasmic during pregnancy!
Just as a heads-up, some pregnant women experience bleeding during or after intercourse. Slight cramping is also normal. If you see a small amount of blood, don’t panic, but mention it to your doctor at your next appointment. Of course, seek medical assistance if you notice a lot of blood or are in any pain.
2. Talk To Your Doctor Together
Although it’s generally agreed upon that sex during pregnancy is safe, your doctor is the expert on what’s appropriate for your particular situation. If you have any complications with your pregnancy (like bleeding, discharge, or previous miscarriages), your doctor may have some guidelines for you to follow.
If you haven’t talked about sex yet with your doctor, bring it up during your next appointment (or book a special appointment to talk about it). Make sure your boyfriend comes along to the appointment, and ask him to prepare some questions for the doctor. Your boyfriend may simply need reassurance that having intercourse won’t cause any harm. Hearing directly from a doctor may put him at ease.
3. Talk To Your Partner About What's Really Going On
Have you and your boyfriend talked about the state of your sex life? Does your boyfriend know about the fears and insecurities his reactions are evoking for you? If you haven’t already, it’s really important that the two of you start communicating about what’s going on.
Getting pregnant is a huge life milestone, and it’s going to affect you in different ways. I know it’s easy to take his squeamishness about sex personally, but it’s possible his hesitance has nothing to do with sex or even with you in general. Your boyfriend might be nervous about finances, how the baby will affect your relationship, or what it will be like to be a father. He might be caught up in memories of his childhood or his relationship with his parents.
Try saying to him, “I want to talk to you about our sex life. I really miss connecting with you in that way, and I’m starting to feel insecure. I want to know that you’re still attracted to me.” You can also ask, “We’ve got a couple more months of me being pregnant, so what do you want that time to look like?” If he still acts uncomfortable, you may want to tell him, "I want to know that my needs are important to you, and being intimate is a need for me right now." If it seems like you can't get through to him, you may want to set up a session with a couples counselor or sex therapist.
4. Find What Positions Make You Both Comfortable
Putting your boyfriend at ease may be a matter of simply switching your position. If your boyfriend is afraid of being on top of you, try spooning instead, or scoot over to the edge of the bed. Lay on your back, drape your legs over the edge, and have your boyfriend kneel between your legs. Knowing that he’s not putting any pressure on your belly might make your boyfriend more open to having intercourse.
Keep in mind that intercourse isn’t the only way for the two of you to connect sexually. There are lots of other ways the two of you can be intimate — touching each other, oral sex, masturbating together, talking about your fantasies, or using a sex toy. Doing other things together may help your boyfriend relax and feel more comfortable having intercourse. Try asking him which other activities he’d be up for.
5. Take Good Care Of Your Body
It’s understandable that you’re feeling self-conscious about your body. Your body is changing in some pretty profound ways, and it’s also not entirely your own anymore. Plus, you’re going through hormonal surges that might make you feel more sensitive and vulnerable than usual.
Hopefully your conversations with your boyfriend will help alleviate your self-consciousness, but it’s also a good idea to spend plenty of time on your relationship with your body. What kinds of activities make you feel really connected to your body and present in your own skin? You can try getting massages, going to dance classes, masturbating, taking long showers, talking to your body, going on long walks in the park, or whatever else makes your body feel good.
6. Take Advantage Of This Time
It might also be useful to talk to your boyfriend about the benefits of having sex at this stage in your pregnancy. As you mentioned in your question, your hormones are raging and you’re ready to go! A lot of women find that their sex drives spike during pregnancy. Sex can feel more intense, and as I mentioned above, some women are even more orgasmic. Your skin can feel more sensitive to touch, so you can try sense play using body-safe candle wax, feathers, suede, or silk.
Once you have the baby, things are probably going to look pretty different. Your hormone levels are going to come crashing down, and you may experience a decrease in sex drive. You’re also not going to be allowed to have sex for a matter of months (this is another topic to talk about with your doctor). You’re both going to be exhausted, overwhelmed, and completely strapped for time. This really is the perfect time for the two of you to focus on your relationship and enjoying intimacy as much as possible. Perhaps putting it in that context should help change your boyfriend’s mind.
Good luck, and congrats again!
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