How can you have a good sex life when you’re pregnant?
I mean, sex is a beautiful thing, right?
We all know we’re supposed to agree with that. And sex, after all, is what gives you that beautiful joy of creating new life!
But let’s be honest. When you’re pregnant and you feel like a beached whale, or when you’re bone tired and you spend your life dreaming of food that will actually stay down, sex is probably the last thing on your mind.
Pregnant sex sounds about as unappealing as smelling spicy food when you’re about to puke.
Not fun at all. And I know this is a problem for so many of you right now, so I found an article I wrote on pregnancy and sex a few years ago, and I thought I’d run it again today!
When I was creating my Boost Your Libido course, I was trying to address many of the emails that I get from so many of you: “but what about sex when you’re pregnant? Or breastfeeding? Or just exhausted with kids?” I haven’t written about this in a while, so I thought it was time to resurrect this topic.
Here’s why sex is such a challenge when you’re pregnant (other than that beached whale problem): for women, our sex drives are largely in our heads. When our heads are engaged, our body will usually follow. If we can’t concentrate, our bodies won’t. Any woman who has ever been having fun with her husband when the stray thought, “I wonder if there’s milk in the fridge for breakfast” invades knows what I’m talking about. Once your mind wanders, you’re gone.
And that’s why pregnant sex can be difficult.
You’re nauseous. You’re tired. You get charlie horses. You can’t get comfortable. And so how can you concentrate enough or get the energy together to focus on sex? I remember sneaking into our bedroom shortly after we were married when my husband had a bout of the flu. With a rash all over and a fever of 103, he looked so pathetic. So I said to him, “Is there anything I can do for you?” And his bleary eyes started flashing. “Well, since you asked…” For men, physical pain or physical discomfort is not a reason to say no to sex. For most women it is.
I was so sick when I was pregnant with my first daughter. I used to pray to throw up, but never could (Not being able to throw up is usually way worse than throwing up. I could throw up with the other two and felt so much better. Unless, of course, you’ve got hyperemesis gravidarum, as Princess Kate did, when you’ve got seriously horrible nausea that can be life threatening). And when you’re that nauseous, sex is the last thing in your mind.
And then, later in pregnancy when you’re so big, sex is just plain uncomfortable.
I’ve had several commenters who have said, “my husband just knows that this isn’t a good time for me, so we just put sex on hold until the baby is a few months old,” or variations of that. And I’m very uncomfortable with that. So here are some things to think about:
1. When You’re Pregnant, Your Husband Is Still Important
What your new child will need, more than anything else except a relationship with Christ, is the knowledge that his or her parents’ marriage is rock solid. The best thing that you can do for your child is to wholeheartedly love their dad. When that marriage is strong, the child is secure, so can concentrate on learning about navigating the rest of the world.
I know it’s easy to say, “well, he’s the one who got me in this situation, so he should just cope,” but that’s not really fair. Parenthood is a huge adjustment, and you need to reassure yourself that you and your husband are still on the same page. Sex is God’s way for us to do that.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re going to have sex as often as we did before we were pregnant. But you shouldn’t swear it off altogether, or relegate it to “once a month” duty sex. Husbands often are very insecure as the baby comes. Will my wife still love me? Will she still pay attention to me? Those questions sound selfish to us, but they’re not, because he actually has his priorities straight. The marriage does come first. And if you can try throughout your pregnancy to show him that you believe that, you will start your life with this new baby on solid footing.
How do you do that?
2. Listen to Your Doctor About Sex While Pregnant
Obviously, for some women sex isn’t a good idea. If you’re spotting or having contractions early, you need to talk to your doctor. So everything I’m saying here is based on your doctor saying it’s okay!
Sometimes the husband is the one worried about sex because he doesn’t want to hurt the baby (or poke the baby, as one commenter said). In normal pregnancies, sex does not hurt anything at all. And the baby really doesn’t feel the poking. If your husband would be reassured by talking to the doctor, then this may be a good idea!
3. When Making Love While Pregnant, Focus on Intimacy
The reason that we don’t want sex is because we’re focused on the fact that if we have sex, we have to get energetic and try to get ourselves in the mood. Instead, think about sex as a way to feel intimate and to feel close to your husband. Do you long for that? Yes, you can feel close by snuggling, but we’ll always feel closer after we make love. And he will feel closer to us, too.
4. Get Real About How You Feel
Yes, you feel awful. Yes, you’re a beached whale. But here’s the truth: that is not going to change, whether or not you have sex. If you lie there and don’t make love, you’ll still be a beached whale. You’ll still be nauseous.
It’s not like abstaining from sex while pregnant makes these conditions feel better! It’s just that you don’t have to get yourself in the mood. And the thought that you could actually be in the mood at the same time as you’re feeling sick sounds awfully far-fetched. But I’m not sure it is, because:
5. Think of Pregnant Sex as Something That Makes You Physically Relax
If you change the way you think of sex (it’s about intimacy and feeling close to my husband), and change the way you have sex, it can actually make you feel better. I know you may not believe me, but just hear me out. While you’re pregnant and feeling awful, make sex far more about massage and touch than it is about a gymnastic marathon. Make it slow and tender, and focus on how your husband can make your body feel better. Buy some books on massage, or take some out of the library. Get some wonderful massage oils and just have him rub your legs if they hurt, and your back, and your shoulders, and take some of the tension out. Drag out foreplay so that your sexual encounters are focused on “making mom feel wonderful in every way”. You may find you actually look forward to it!
6. Get as Much Rest as Possible
Nap when your older children nap (if you have any). Nap as often as possible if you don’t have any kids. And talk to your husband about helping around the house. Explain to him that if you get more rest, you’ll likely be more “in the mood” later!
7. Try Different Positions
As you get bigger, the missionary position will become pretty much impossible. First, it’s very uncomfortable to lie on your back, and second, you’re a weird shape! But you can try you on top, or spooning. Read this post on the importance of getting the right angle when you make love for it to feel good.
And, if you’re nearing your due date and you’re desperate to go into labor, sex actually can help trigger labor later on!
8. Go with the Flow
To a certain extent, pregnancy is a “go with the flow” thing. Some days you’ll be feeling great, and some days you just won’t. In those beginning few weeks when you’re terribly nauseous, sex really may be too difficult. But often in months 4-7 we feel pretty good, and our libidos return (and are sometimes even higher!). Unfortunately, if you tell yourself and your husband at the beginning of the pregnancy “we just won’t be having sex now”, then when your libido returns, you may not even notice because you’ve shut yourself down. So don’t shut down! If you’re temporarily too sick, that’s okay. If your doctor says no, then you obviously shouldn’t. But remember: sex increases your intimacy, which is so important when a baby’s coming. It can help relax you. And it can cement your relationship. So don’t write it off! Just be more creative, more focused on relaxation, and more focused on the relationship!
What do you think? Did you find anything that worked well for pregnancy and sex? Or did you find sex while pregnant just impossible? Let’s talk about it in the comments!
Sex is supposed to be stupendous--physically, emotionally, AND spiritually. If it's not, get The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex--and find out what you've been missing.