Sex During Pregnancy: Safe Sex Positions And Best Practices

Sex During Pregnancy: Safe Sex Positions And Best Practices

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Imagine living a celibate life for nine months during pregnancy. Doesn’t sound practical at all. But you might have concerns about having sex during pregnancy, as you do not want to take any chance with the well being of your baby.

Research shows that sex and pregnancy can go hand in hand (1). However, it may not be safe in some cases, and not all sex positions are recommended during this time. MomJunction tells you about the safe sex positions during pregnancy, and shares details on trimester-wise sex.

Is It Safe To Have Sex During Pregnancy?

Yes, it is safe to have sex but only if you have a healthy pregnancy. You can have sex right until the waters break or you go into labor. The amniotic fluid protects the baby, and the mucus plug inside the cervix guards against infections. So, the baby will not be affected during intercourse. However, you cannot be rough.

Also, you need to be careful if you have conditions such as cervical incompetence, placental problems, vaginal bleeding or carrying multiples. And, you may have to abstain from sex under certain circumstances.

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When Is It Not Safe To Have Sex During Pregnancy?

Your doctor may ask you to abstain from intercourse for full nine months or at certain times, in the below situations (2):

  • Previous history of premature labor or a risk of preterm labor in the current pregnancy
  • History of miscarriage
  • Your waters have already broken
  • You are having vaginal discharge or bleeding
  • Your cervix is weak or dilated
  • You have a low lying placenta or placenta previa

In some situations, foreplay is allowed without penetration, or penetration is permitted only with a condom.

Even if it is safe for you to have sex, the doctor might suggest you to avoid some sex positions and try the safer ones.

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[ Read: What Is Preterm Labor? ]

What Are The Safe Sex Positions During Pregnancy?

With the hormones having a field time, it is likely for you to have an increased urge to have sex during pregnancy or lost total interest in it. Irrespective of whether it is a regular or an occasional encounter with your partner, these moves and positions are safe for you:

1. The Side Saddle Position:

The Side Saddle Position

The move:

Your partner will have to lie down on the side while you sleep on your back. You will have to be at a perpendicular angle to your partner, and place your legs on his hips. Keep your knees close together for attaining a maximum friction between you and him. As you both lie down in this way, you can open your legs gradually making swiveling motions allowing your partner to penetrate you.

In which trimester?

You can try this position during the first and second trimesters; in the third trimester you might find it difficult to sleep on your back.

Why would it be good for you?

Your partner will have to do all the work in the side saddle position, while you can lie down and not get tired. Also, your partner’s hands will be free to touch and cuddle you, and stimulate your clitoris and breasts at the same time.

Points to note:

This position will not allow deep penetration, and also if you try it in the third trimester, you could feel dizzy as you lie on the back.

In this case, you can use more pillows to prop yourself at a slight angle, and tilt towards left.

Alternatively, you can begin with this position and then switch to another.

2. The classic missionary position:

The Missionary Position

 The move:

The classic missionary position is one in which you will have to lie down on your back, and your partner will be on the top.

In which trimester?

You can do it during the first and possibly in the second and third trimesters if you are comfortable.

Why would it be good for you?

The increasing body weight and changing hormones during pregnancy will make you feel tired easily. Lying down in the missionary position will help you relax while your partner will make the moves. Also, if you are facing any discomfort during the act, your partner can know it immediately as he will be facing you in this position.

Points to note:

In the third trimester, it will be difficult for you to lie on your back, and it can also make you dizzy. In this case, you can place pillows between your neck and upper back. You could also use pillows at places that make you feel comfortable.

Make sure your partner does not put weight on your bump, and you are able to switch to a modified missionary position.

[ Read: Bleeding After Sex During Pregnancy ]

3. The modified missionary position:

The Modified Missionary Position

The move:

Lie down towards the edge of the bed and pull your knees towards your chest. You can place your feet against your partner’s chest. He can either kneel down or stand in front of you to penetrate by holding your legs in his arms.

In which trimester?

You can try this during the first and second trimesters. This position is suitable in the third trimester if you are comfortable, and do not get dizzy.

Why would it be good for you?

You can draw your partner around by folding your legs around his waist for better penetration. He can provide support to your legs and waist and is free to stimulate your breasts and clitoris. You can relax and enjoy as he would make all the moves.

Points to remember:

You may feel some discomfort in your back or dizzy as you lie down for long.

If you feel so, place some cushions under your lower back or your head to prop yourself up a little. You can also put a cushion beneath your waist or hip.

4. The spooning position:

The Spooning Position

The move:

For this position, both you and your partner will lie down side by side with him behind you. This allows shallow penetration from the back.

In which trimester?

You can try it through all the trimesters, but it is especially good in the third trimester as the bump makes it tough to meet face to face. In the first and second trimesters, you can use a pillow for extra support to the bump. This also makes it easier for your partner to penetrate.

Why would it be good for you?

Your partner can fondle and stimulate you, making the whole episode pleasurable for you. You do not need to work at all as he will take care of everything.

Points to note:

This position will not allow deep penetration; so if you want it a little deeper, you may have to try some other position.

5. Doggy style:

Doggy Style

The move:

You will have to kneel down on all fours, and your partner will position himself behind you. He will penetrate from the back, and you may require a pillow for tummy support.

In which trimester?

In all the trimesters, and it is more useful during the third trimester as your bump is bigger, and this position will not make you feel uncomfortable.

Why would it be good for you?

The doggy style pose will be especially helpful in case you feel any pain in your lower back or pelvic region, as this position takes the pressure off from that area.

Your partner can stimulate your clitoris. If you are tired, you can just relax on the pillows and enjoy the experience. You can also try this on your fours at the edge of the bed while he will stand at the foot of the bed.

[ Read: Is It Safe To Use A Vibrator In Pregnancy ]

Points to note:

The style puts pressure on your wrists, so it could be difficult if you have carpal tunnel syndrome or sore wrists. To ease the pressure, you can lean on the back of the sofa or hold on to a bedpost.
If you feel uncomfortable, you can place cushions below your knees to ease the pressure.

During the doggy style, penetration will be quite deep, so if you feel any pain or discomfort, ask your partner to slow down. You can also lean on your elbows instead of your wrist to ease the pressure and the level of penetration.

6. The woman on top position:

The Woman-On-Top Position

The move:

Also known as cowgirl position, this is ideal for those with bigger bellies. You remain on the top of your partner, and it is just a reverse of the classic missionary position. You will straddle your partner as he lies on his back, and hold on to your bed for some support.

In which trimester?

Suitable for all the three trimesters but can be difficult in the third trimester due to a bigger bump. You will have a shift in your balance, so it is good to have support. This also helps you move up and down while straddling your partner.

Your partner can prop himself by keeping some pillows behind his back to come closer to you.

Why would it be good for you?

It is ideal for women who cannot open their legs too wide due to the progressing pregnancy. Your partner can stimulate your breasts or clitoris to give you a more pleasurable experience.

Points to note:

This position would be difficult in the later part of pregnancy when your baby bump grows bigger. If it is uncomfortable, try kneeling over your partner instead of squatting.

[ Read: STDs During Pregnancy ]

7. Scissors:


The move:

You and your partner will lie facing each other, and you will put your leg on his hip. Both of you will have your legs opened like a pair of scissors, giving the position the name.

In which trimester?

You can try this position through all the trimesters. It allows gentle intercourse, making it ideal even for the later stages of pregnancy.

Why would it be good for you?

Lying face-to-face will allow greater intimacy and cuddling between the partners. Both of them can control the depth of penetration.

Points to note:

You could be more comfortable if you use a cushion under your bump for extra support.

Sex during pregnancy is as enjoyable as it is during the normal times. However, you must watchout for any signs of discomfort and be prepared for some unpleasant experiences.

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Trimester-Wise Sex: What To Expect?

Your sexual desire might fluctuate during pregnancy as your hormones rise. Below are the changes you can expect during each trimester.

[ Read: Contractions During Pregnancy ]

First trimester:

Mostly, you may not be interested in having sex. This could be due to extreme exhaustion, morning sickness, and sore breasts that may limit your desire to be touched. This should not worry you as your desire to have sex will slowly rise in just a few weeks.

Second trimester:

This is the golden phase for sex during pregnancy. You will feel better both physically and emotionally as discomforts slowly fade away. The blood volume increases in the waist region especially in the clitoris and vagina, which enhances your sexual pleasure. Remember, you will attain orgasm quicker than the normal due to the additional blood flow. You may also experience contractions with orgasms, which is normal and not a cause for concern.

Third trimester:

By the end of your pregnancy, your sexual desire diminishes gradually. The big belly makes it difficult to make love except for a few, simple positions. Moreover, your mind will be preoccupied with the nearing birth and baby’s safety. But you can always cuddle and share some physical love with your partner.

While sex per se is not restricted during pregnancy, there are certain positions you must avoid.

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Sex Positions To Avoid During Pregnancy

You should avoid positions that will pose a risk to your baby, and make you feel uncomfortable and stressed out.

In the first trimester:

There are no restrictions and you can try any position as long as you do not experience any discomfort. You need to be careful about deep penetration methods, and give some time for your body to get stronger. There is also no medical evidence against sex in the first trimester leading to complications such as miscarriage or other problems.

In the second trimester:

Minimize the positions that make you lie on your back as the growing uterus puts extra pressure on your aorta, which passes blood to the placenta. Avoid missionary position.

In the third trimester:

The rules in the second trimester apply here as well. You should also stay away from anal sex as it could be very painful and could lead to bleeding. Avoid oral sex as blowing into the vagina could cause embolism – a sudden burst of air – that can be harmful to both the mother and baby.

You should remember that no sex position is dangerous as long as you are comfortable and soft. But if something goes wrong, do not hesitate to seek help from your doctor.

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[ Read: Oral Sex During Pregnancy ]

When should you call a doctor?

Call your doctor if you:

  • continue to have cramps long after intercourse
  • have bleeding or pain after intercourse

You must tell your doctor about the concerns, fears, or questions you have about sex. If you are asked to abstain from sex, check whether it is avoiding complete penetration, releasing orgasm, or more. Also, talk to your doctor about sex after pregnancy.

There could be a few questions that expectant moms would want clarity on. We have answered a few such questions below.

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Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Does sex during pregnancy cause a miscarriage or harm the baby?

Sex will not cause a miscarriage or affect the growing baby. Miscarriages in most cases are caused by a fetus that is not developing properly. While it is true that orgasms cause contractions in the uterus, they are not as harmful as the contractions you develop during labor. Also, the penis will not enter beyond the vagina, and therefore it will not reach the baby (2).

2. Is it normal to be disinterested in sex during pregnancy?

Yes, it is quite normal to have a low sex drive during early pregnancy and the later stage.

During the first trimester, you may feel exhausted, moody, or overwhelmed as your body is hard at work, and undergoingphysical and emotional changes. But as you enter the second trimester, your libido could return as the morning sickness and fatigue ease.

If you are not up for sex in the third trimester, it is common as you feel exhausted and achy to make love. You may feel self-conscious about your body changes and worry about the upcoming labor. You can still be physically close to your partner through kissing and cuddling (3).

3. Will my pregnancy affect my partner’s sex drive?

Yes. He may be apprehensive of the burdens of parenting, and this anxiety can affect his sex drive. He might also have the fear that sex could hurt the baby. So, he needs reassurance having sex during pregnancy.

4. Is it safe to have oral and anal sex during pregnancy?

Oral sex is safe during pregnancyas long as your partner does not blow air into your vagina. If he does so, it can block a blood vessel (a condition called embolism) that could be life-threatening.

Anal sex may not be comfortable as it can cause infections to spread from your rectum to vagina. Also, you cannot enjoy anal sex if you have pregnancy-related hemorrhoids (4).

5. Why do you experience cramps or contractions after intercourse or orgasm during pregnancy?

Uterine contractions during or after intercourse, or orgasms occur because:

  • Your body releases oxytocin during an orgasm and that causes contraction of muscles.
  • Your partner’s semen contains chemicals called prostaglandins that trigger contractions.
  • Nipples could be sore during pregnancy, and if your partner stimulates them, it can trigger contractions.
  • Your body is in motion during intercourse, leading to contractions.

6. Are condoms necessary for sex during pregnancy?

Using a condom during sex will prevent the risk of any sexually transmitted diseases. When you are pregnant, getting exposed to any such diseases can increase the chances of infection in you and your baby. If your partner has any such diseases, avoid having sex altogether, with or without a condom.

[ Read: Is Anal Sex Safe During Pregnancy ]

7. Can sex during pregnancy trigger preterm labor?

Prostaglandins in semen and orgasms can lead to uterine contractions. But they are not associated with any risk of preterm labor or premature birth. Likewise, sex during late pregnancy will also not trigger labor. However, if you are at a risk of such condition, your doctor will recommend you to avoid sex (5).

8. How soon can you have sex after the baby is born?

Whether it is a vaginal or C-section delivery, your body requires time to heal. You need to wait at least four to six weeks after your baby is born (6). This gives enough time for the postpartum bleeding to stop, cervix to close, and tears to heal. If you think you are too exhausted even after that, try maintaining intimacy by cuddling, kissing, and the like. The moment you are ready for sex, take it slow, and play it safe until you are ready for the next pregnancy.

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Getting pregnant does not mean you have to pause your sex life. It is just a different phase with and a whole new connection with your partner. So, have fun but be careful about your moves.

Want to share anything on this topic? Tell us your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below.

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Rebecca Malachi

"I believe words have power. They are a powerful tool for a creative soul. Being a 'word addict', I express my thoughts and contribute articles on health, wellness and beauty. Apart from writing, I love listening to gospel music and enjoy observing nature in silence."
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