Sex during pregnancy: It's one of those questions you never quite get around to asking your caregiver. Not that she doesn't give you plenty of opportunity: Usually after the physical exam is done and you're trying to pretend that it's normal to be wearing only socks on the bottom half of your body, your Ob/Gyn or midwife asks if you have any other questions. And somehow, it just doesn't seem like the right moment to blurt out, "Am I ever going to enjoy sex again?"Fear not. We're going to save you from the agony and embarrassment of that question. Right here, we are going to tell you: Yes, you could be enjoying sex as early as this evening (or, hey, 10 minutes after you finish this article, depending on how far away your partner is at this moment).
Avoiding the agony
The problem for many pregnant women is a certain level of discomfort (by which we mean, pain so intense it can make you want to bite the, uh, hand that's feeding you, if you catch our drift) during sex. The "discomfort" can be localized, or it can share the fun and spread all over your body. Your cervix hurts (did you even know where your cervix was before this?), your abdomen hurts, your nipples hurt; you're just one big world of hurt. Well, Sister, you don't have to take this lying down. In fact, that's probably the worst way you could take it: missionary style.
"Somewhere around mid-second trimester, and definitely by the third trimester, the weight of the uterus makes the missionary position uncomfortable, and possibly unsafe, due to compression of the blood supply by the uterus," explains Valerie Davis Raskin, MD, author of Great Sex for Moms (Fireside). What to do, then? "Let your body naturally guide you," says Raskin. "The positions that are most comfortable now for sleeping are also most comfortable for lovemaking. For example, you could try 'spooning' on your side -- your husband enters the vagina from behind you."
Feeling a little more adventurous? "We found the best position for me was having my husband behind me while I was slightly bent over holding on to our headboard, wall or countertop," says 34-year-old San Jose mom-to-be Cinnamon Trimmer, who talked to us when she was expecting twin boys.
A perennial favorite with pregnant women is the delightfully named "doggie style." This position offers couples "freedom of movement," says Sandor Gardos, MD, president and CEO of MyPleasure.com, a Web site dedicated to educating people on sexuality and sex toys. He explains: "She's on her hands and knees. He stands or kneels behind her." In addition to allowing both partners greater flexibility, "This position allows him to reach around and fondle her breasts, belly and clitoris," says Gardos.
If that sounds like a little too much contact for you, you have other options. "So much of my body was sensitive when I was pregnant," says 28-year-old Gracie Harris*, a Brooklyn, New York mom of three. "I wanted to have sex, but I didn't really want my husband to touch me. I would lie on my side, and he would enter from the front with one of his legs up over my body. It was a little bit awkward, but it worked for us."
Open your mouth -- to talk
One of the best ways to get comfortable for sex when you're pregnant is to get comfortable talking about sex. If you think it's too hard, consider this: My dad reads everything I have ever published. If I can write it, you can talk about it with the father of your baby (or babies).
According to Gardos, "Many couples see
sexual discussions as this sheer cliff they must
scale -- and can't. Adjust your thinking.
Sexual discussions aren't that different from
talks about money, family or other
relationship issues. If you have a matter-of-fact
attitude, sex is usually easier to discuss." He
suggests an open, honest question: "How are
you feeling about sex lately? Are you more
interested? Less? Or about the same? Let me
tell you how I'm feeling."
Try something new
Look at pregnancy as a time to experiment and explore your relationship a little bit differently. "Before my first pregnancy, I was fairly passive during sex," says Kirsten Blue*. "Now, at 30 weeks, I really like being on top. I straddle my husband's hips and sit on top of him. It puts me more in control, and I'm having a lot of fun." Gardos points out that this position "also allows both spouses to massage her big belly and larger breasts -- another erotic treat."
No matter which positions you try, Gardos advises, "Use lots and lots of pillows. Anything that props her up and keeps her upper body elevated will be more comfortable too."
So surprise your sweetheart: Try something
new tonight! (Need more inspiration? Check out Sexy Mamas: Keeping Your Sex Life Alive While Raising Kids by Cathy Winks and Anne Semans.) And when you can't wipe the
silly grin off your face at your next caregiver's
appointment, we'll let you decide for yourself
just how much you want to share.