What is sex like during various stages of pregnancy?

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Photo by Susan Sabo
Photo by Susan Sabo

Offbeat Families reader Betty asks:

“I’m not currently pregnant or planning to be anytime soon, but I think I might have kids… some day. I have tons of questions about pregnancy and raising children, but whenever I really think about pregnancy I inevitably always wonder: what is sex like while you’re pregnant?

I know that plenty of people have sex the entire time they’re pregnant AND that plenty of people aren’t comfortable having sex while pregnant, so I’m curious — what about being pregnant makes you want to have sex more or less than you do usually?

If you are having sex while pregnant, how does it change as the pregnancy progresses?”

Ok, you sexy mamas! We want to hear your experiences about sex through your pregnancy.

We know the comments on this one are going to be awesome…

Comments on What is sex like during various stages of pregnancy?

  1. We had a lot of sex while pregnant – particularly during the last trimester. It wasn’t too different, really, except that you can’t lie on your back at all (I’m one of those weirdos for whom missionary & its variations is actually really good). After a while you just get sick of girl-on-top & doggie.

    I hear that for a lot of people having to pee is a problem, but I never had a reduced bladder capacity during my pregnancy (I slept through the night the whole time).

    All I can recommend is that you have A LOT of sex during your pregnancy as long as you feel like it, because for a lot of people, it takes a while after you give birth to feel physically & emotionally ready to do it again.

    • Missionary is the best way to get me there too… but how do you manage the belly? it was ok until 4 months for me, but now he’d have to be completely vertical not to squash it. I’m 24 weeks and the cashier at the grocery store asked if I was due before or after my birthday (which is in 9 days).

      • The only way I’ve managed to tackle missionary (I’m 29 weeks) is to have him standing next to the bed with my legs swung over the side. I guess that’s not really missionary, but it gives the face to face time without his weight on stomach.

        • My guy is large so regular missionary is uncomfortable anyway. We do the same thing but at 22 weeks I have no issues laying on my back yet.

  2. I’ve been very achy and tired my whole pregnancy, so there hasn’t been much activity around here 🙁 At first I really didn’t feel like it. Then, I wouldn’t mind it but zzzzzzzzzzzz. Now I’m just so big I can’t be comfortable in any position, so I end up taking charge of things myself. I think a big issue with my pregnancy in general has been that by the moment I hit the middle of the second trimester (when you’re supposed to feel most energetic) temperatures reached the 90s with very high humidity. Now I’m about to start my 6th month and unless it’s in a big tub of ice cubes I won’t let my husband get anywhere near me.
    So yeah, my answer would be that not only are you affected by tons of hormones that could take you either way, but external factors could become huge. Oh and the fact that the more “into it” we are the more this little girl kicks and moves tends to kill the moment too.

  3. I am currently preggo with my third, first with my husband. I would say that with each of my pregnancies I haven’t craved sex anymore than before I was preggo, about the same. I know some women do though. The only changes for me would be, I’m more likely to pass it up now because I’m VERY tired by bedtime that most nights, I’d rather just pass out. Breast tenderness gets in the way as well, puts a damper on things in that area.

    I am now 29 weeks along, so I’m feeling a little less than desirable, especially when I catch a glimpse in the mirror. So I’ve been keeping the lights off a lot as I get bigger. As you get furthur along, your positions have to alter some to make room for your stomach and/or make it more comfortable as well.

    But otherwise, life goes on 🙂

  4. I think this is a very personal topic, and people’s feelings and experiences vary WIDELY, so take that into account. (In fact, the same person might have a totally different experience in different pregnancies.)

    We were pretty busy right up until two days before Baby came. I found that in the beginning, “morning” (and it is NOT limited to the morning!) sickness made me feel too sick to enjoy myself much, but otherwise, I was in the mood even more than usual. I actually felt pretty sensual, and my partner NEVER seemed to feel that I was any less sexy than before. I wouldn’t say I felt either more or less sexy, myself (ok, less sexy during the weeks I was throwing up constantly).

    We did get a little creative — missionary doesn’t work after a certain point — but creativity never hurts!

    As for after the baby — we waited till the 6 wk all clear from the midwife (standard, and then ended up waiting about two more weeks; but I know some people don’t wait until then. In the beginning you think it will NEVER be the same down there again, but you know what — it is! Seriously, there doesn’t seem to be any difference now (three months later).

    • “you think it will NEVER be the same down there again, but you know what — it is! Seriously, there doesn’t seem to be any difference now (three months later).”

      THANK YOU for saying this. I’m 24 weeks pregnant with my first and pretty terrified of what birth will do to my vagina. This makes me feel so much better!

      • Don’t worry about it! My husband says that things have actually improved since we had kids, and I’ve noticed that too. I think it’s due to the pelvic floor exercises that my midwives kept on at me about.

      • we waited until getting the 6 week green light from my midwife as well and then went right at it that night…what i wasnt prepared for was OUCH! it had been probably closer to 7 weeks (the 6 plus the days right before she was born when my boyfriend was working all the time so we couldnt find the time) so yeah, dont worry about it not feeling the same, i actually think for him it felt better because of how long we had waited! (it will for me too, eventually!)

        • we couldn’t wait longer than three weeks with either of ours and were totally fine both times…the first time i even had a minor tear which had healed by then and didnt cause any issues at all. and yes to second what anonymous said above…my vagina hasn’t changed at all since having number one or two. right back to usual! and im actually really bad at keeping up with the kegles. there is definitely hope!

  5. The biggest mood killer for me is when my babies move around inside me during sexy time. I’m not afraid of hurting the babies, or whatever, it just totally kills it for me. I have to ignore it willfully or just pretend it doesn’t bother me, but it definitely makes me feel less into the action.

    Also, I am pretty big already at 5 months (twins), so I can’t do much in terms of positioning. It makes things complicated, and often there’s a lot of spacial negotiation going on. Maybe as we get used to me being big we will figure out some good “standard” positions so we don’t HAVE to be creative every time. Sometimes the problem solving is awkward and not sexy, too, since moving my body around takes so much more effort now!

  6. We had a lot of sex while I was pregnant. I was sick as a dog the first 14 weeks and there was no way we were keeping up our ususal 2-3 times a week routine. I felt car sick just thinking about sex and it was a HOT summer as well. Once my “morning” sickness faded sex was awesome. We were so in love with eachother, we were so in love with this person growing in my body. It was a heady and romantic time. It got better once my body was clearly pregnant and not just bloated and chubby. My husband thought I looked amazing and I could hardly keep him off of me. (in a good way). Third trimester required us to be positionally creative as I got big and had back pain. That was not a problem. By the very end we were having sex to get the baby out but it was still good sex. In fact, the sex we had the day before my water broke we both agree, was the best we have ever had. 🙂 Now we are 15 weeks out and working on balancing my diminished desire with nap schedules….oh to have pregnant sex again 🙂

    • “It got better once my body was clearly pregnant and not just bloated and chubby.”-I am hoping this is the case for me. I am a little over 3 months and since we found out-nada. It’s all me though, I’m tired and I really don’t feel into it which is bad because I didn’t have a high sex drive to begin with. We just celebrated our 1 year wedding anniversary and I couldn’t even bring myself to do it that night! I am hoping once I feel pregnant and not just fat it’ll be better.

      • I took a long time to look pregnant and still don’t in most clothes (22 weeks) don’t worry about it, he was convinced any bit of bloat was a baby bump and found it awesome.

  7. I’m nearly 28 weeks pregnant and honestly, the sex has been one of the best parts of pregnancy for me!

    Before conceiving, I had a very, verrrry low sex drive, and for the first couple of months, I was so sick and tired that I didn’t really want to do it.

    But, in the last two months or so, we’ve had so.much.great.sex!!! Physically, it’s not much different; I never really liked being on my back, and that’s the only really uncomfortable position for me right now, so we just avoid it. I’m on top a lot, or on my side or propped up on my elbows, and that is really comfortable and fun. I have noticed a decreased interest in oral sex–I much prefer penetration these days, which wasn’t really the case before.

    In general, I’m just more turned on and ready to go, more so than I’ve been in years. I had an abortion just about 6 years ago, and for a while afterward, I was so afraid of becoming accidentally pregnant again that our sex life really, really suffered. Even when we started trying to conceive last fall, I had a hard time getting into it, and making a baby was on the damn agenda!

    Honestly, I’m a little afraid of what will happen to my drive after the baby comes. I don’t want to lose it, because it’s really strengthened our relationship to have all this sex again. It’s at least given us a lot more opportunities to talk about our sex life and what might happen once baby is here.

  8. Physically, it wasn’t much different for me until about 6 months. I didn’t get an early sickness. Then, we changed to more spooning position, which was more supportive than all fours and more comfortable.

    However, at this last pregnancy (my 3rd), I had a weird thing happen afterward, where I was unable to orgasism (sp?) until like 7 months post partum. I guess something happened with my hormones or something. I had to convince my husband that I still wanted to have sex even if I was having problems getting all the way.

  9. Pregnancy lowered my libido, and made sex painful, I couldn’t lubricate naturally, and even with ky, it felt a lot like getting reamed with a splintery wooden broom handle.
    Things started to get better about 6 months after we had the baby, and now 3 years later it’s actually better than it was before we got pregnant.

    • ‘…even with ky, it felt a lot like getting reamed with a splintery wooden broom handle.’

      I know this feeling, but seeing it here, coming from someone else, made me laugh SO hard and now I can’t stop smiling… I’ve had trouble *staying* ‘in the mood’ while we’re trying to have sex, because things down there just don’t feel right (dry or painful or nothing at all going on -numb?); thanks for making me laugh and smile, knowing I’m not alone!

      • This might be an instance of ‘unhelpful advice’ but I had this too in the early days and made my doctor take an internal swab for thrush. I was otherwise symptom free but it turns out I did have thrush, it was just really high up and a normal test wouldn’t have picked it up. Once I was treated for that my pain went away. Not saying that this was necessarily the issue in your case but for anyone else reading this and experiencing that pain, I’d really encourage you to consider asking your doctor/ care provider to do the internal swab 🙂

  10. I’ve enjoyed sex almost the entirety of my pregnancy (34 weeks with twins!) Maybe too much information, but I had an undiagnosed yeast infection for 5-6 weeks. I thought it was just a normal part of pregnancy and my doc assured me it wasn’t an infection. That really took away from the sex drive.

    Being comfortable with your new body and trusting your partner are the most important aspects–I’ve enjoyed our creativity of new sex positions. It has also been freeing not to have to think about any form of contraception.

  11. For me, the anxiety was the hardest to overcome, and still is. I know that sometimes women bleed a little after sex, but the thought of seeing blood scares me so much that it made me very, very hesitant during the first trimester. Coupled with the nausea, headaches, nerves and exhaustion, there was always some reason not to have sex. We wound up pregnant during the first month of trying and my husband was actually sad about it, because he loved the trying phase and now we’d immediately entered the “no sex” phase. I’m trying to lighten up now (at a bit over 15 weeks). I do find penetrative sex more uncomfortable now, but oral is absolutely fine. I think we just need to experiment more and I need to let go of my fears that sex is going to hurt the baby.

    I do feel like a ticking time bomb because I’m afraid that our sex life will vanish after the baby arrives, so I’m trying to be better about letting go and enjoying the closeness with my husband.

  12. I had a previous miscarriage, so I was terrified of having sex for the first trimester. Then they discovered a low-lying placenta (which usually fixes itself), so I continued to be terrified until it fixed itself at 28 weeks. Then everything was great for nine more weeks, when our daughter was born. Never had a problem with missionary… actually, it was the only position that wasn’t a little bit painful for me (my husband is well endowed and other positions are usually a bit painful for me, but even though it was normal, I couldn’t help but worry).

    The real surprise came after she was born. My sex drive was high before pregnancy, and now it’s higher. Waiting for the okay from my doc for sex was torture, but we made it work. I got the okay at 4 weeks and my birth control was considered “working” at 5 weeks. It’s kinda like a game, finding the time and energy… not to mention finishing before she wakes up again.

  13. We had lots of sex in the 1st and 2nd trimesters, but I was so freaking tired and we were under lots of under life stresses during the 3rd trimester, so we barely had sex at all. The only thing I didn’t like was that I already have no problem supplying my own natural lubrication, and during pregnancy, that was magnified by like 10. You’d think that wouldn’t be a problem, but it was a major problem. My husband had a hard time staying inside and I had a hard time feeling any sensation. The orgasms were marvelous though.

    Edited to add: Now that I think about it, I didn’t show for a loooooong time, like until 7 months when I suddenly looked pregnant, and that’s right around when our sex life took a nose dive. I’m not sure if that had anything to do with it or not. I had really bad hip pain, my husband lost his job and we were relying on his parents to help us financially, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes and had C-Diff and started losing a dramatic amount of weight, with all those things combined I’m not surprised at all that we didn’t feel like having sex!

  14. I’m at 38 weeks. We’ve been having sex less frequently because of me being either sick (1st trimester) or tired (second trimester) or just plain uncomfortable (third trimester). My drive went up for a bit at the beginning, then became almost non-existent for a bit at the end of the second trimester… now it’s about normal, but I can’t seem to reach orgasm. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t still fun trying! Yes, there have been some times that it’s been rough, especially for my husband. For the most part, we’ve gotten creative(lazy sex is still sex) and we’ve become more emotionally intimate with each other and it has made us a lot closer. Who know what will happen postpartum, but I’m confident that as long as we keep talking and being open about it, then we’ll get through it fine.

  15. My son is 4 now, but I remember it because it was so amazingly good! I didn’t have any morning sickness at all, so I was “ready to go” the whole time. I remember having positioning issues and using pillows creatively. I have a health condition stops me from being physically able to be on top, so we would put a firm pillow under my rump and one behind my head, so I wouldn’t feel up-side-down, to maintain a missionary-like position without him having to stand. Later in my pregnancy it was actually my husband that got “the willies” about being able to feel the baby. For the first 8 months though, I remember thinking, “This is why those anti-birth control women exist! They want to be pregnant all the time cause the sex is so great!” I felt like I’d been let in on a secret only moms knew.

  16. I utterly went off sex when I was pregnant, and it was very frustrating! I loved my pregnant body, so did my husband, I felt really beautiful and confident, I wasn’t worried about hurting the baby but my sex drive was zero. It wasn’t just that I wasn’t in the mood- if we tried there was just nothing, he may as well have been stroking my elbow (if elbows really do it for you, imagine another totally non erogenous zone!). It just didn’t work. But after labour it came right back, we were doing the deed again by 3 weeks- I was so relieved, we were beginning to think we’d never do it again, and now our sex life is better than ever.

  17. I am not much into it in the first trimester, but the second trimester hits and we go from once or twice a week to nearly every day. Third trimester and the belly seems to slow it down for us a little since positions get tricky. I am 35 weeks with my third baby and still enjoy sex, but can’t wait until I no longer have this huge belly in the way! Horomones affect people differently in pregnancy so it will be difficult to know how you will feel until you are actually pregnant.

  18. The first trimester was an absolute no-go for me. My breasts were super sore and I couldn’t stand the smell of my husband (which was probably both the worst and most unexpected part of early pregnancy for me). I never really had much of a sex drive even once the first trimester symptoms subsided, and it was pretty uncomfortable again late in the third trimester because my vulva was oversensitive. After the baby was born, though… if I hadn’t been so freaking tired I would have wanted it every day! 🙂 Just with half the bottle of lube each time.

  19. My first pregnancy, I wanted nothing to do with sex. The only time I was willing to do it was a brief window in the 2nd trimester when I wasn’t nauseous anymore and the baby hadn’t started really moving a lot. After she was born I still had no sex drive for almost a year. Now I’m 14 weeks along with baby #2 and it’s the polar opposite! My sex drive has been through the roof since day one!

  20. My husband and I have/had a very active and healthy sex life leading up to pregnancy. I lucked out with not getting morning sick so the first two trimesters were amazing for us. Because I have always really enjoyed sex, all the changes going on down there actually reduced sensations for me. We found ways around it but once I hit that pelvis expanding, braxton hicks stage that I am in now (I’m 35 weeks) our romps in the sack are non-existent. This makes me so sad and sexually frustrated because I want to be intimate with him but it just isn’t comfortable anymore and having to stop halfway is way worse than just not starting anything. There are ways to take care of urges that we definitely employ but it’s just not the same as good old fashioned married sex. I think we both are counting down to when we can resume our lives bump and aches free.

  21. I’m at 24 weeks now, and it’s been a rocky road. We tried for about seven months before we got pregnant, and, given that I’m a healthy 25 year old and my husband is a no less healthy 32 year old, we were beginning to wonder why it wasn’t happening. When it finally did, sex was easier just because the stress was gone. We were having sex because we wanted to know with no pressure. Not to mention the fact that my breasts were sensitive in a great way.

    Once the bump became undeniable, hubby started to get nervous about smushing it. Meanwhile, I’m a total missionary girl, so being told that my favorite position would either need a good bit of tweaking or we couldn’t do it at all was rough.

    Between busy-ness (hubby is a teacher and May was pretty much a paper-grading marathon), hormones, and concern about being safe for baby, we had a bit of a lull. Recently, though, now that it’s warm out (naked sleeping!) and his work is pretty relaxed, we’ve made an effort to spend intimate time together – whether it’s him rubbing coconut oil on places that may get stretch marks, bathing together, or actual forms of intercourse. At this stage, with my body changing so much, it’s more important to me (and to him!) that we’re both comfortable with my body and spending real physical time together than for us both to orgasm (though that definitely still happens).

    I haven’t noticed anything but my breasts being more or less sensitive, though I do notice more (trying to think of the right word)… swelling? down there. It seems more full.

    I also find it important to take care of things myself once in awhile, if only just so that I can stay in touch with my sexuality and so that I can remain aware of the physical changes. It’s kind of delightful to be so curvy and fertile, and it’s important for me to think of it in those terms (as opposed to ‘holy cow, i’m a whale and i still have at least three months left’).

  22. I’m just in my first trimester right now but my sex drive has plummeted. I’m exhausted and bloated and nauseas 90% of the time. My husband is so lovely and understanding and we’re spending an awful lot of time cuddled on the couch kissing. Hopefully the sex drive gets back up in a few weeks when I’m in my second trimester, but I’m thankful my husband is being understanding and patient. We’ve been communicating about it the whole time (and knew it was a possibility when we started trying for kids) and I think that helps.

  23. I think it varies week to week. We had sex through AWFUL morning sickness. My husband deserves a medal for being able to maintain an erection after he listened to me puke. For the first 4 1/2 months a we had sex a little less than usual, the second trimester we had some really fun super sex weeks, where I was eager to get some all the time but since 36 weeks I have just been too big and my vulva has been too swollen for anything to be anything other than irritating. So we just masturbate together, as in, we each get ourselves off when we feel the need but with some snuggle time! My hubby doesn’t feel neglected and neither do I. I guess its just making sure you communicate your love has in no way diminished when your sex drive does! We are still waiting on baby, but are looking forward to having some un-belly interrupted sex once I am all healed up!

  24. I’m 29 weeks and physically, sex is pretty much the same as it was before, except for, as the others have mentioned, positions have changed a little due to the growing belly. I also get tired more easily. The real difference, though, is that I feel totally gorgeous pregnant and my husband thinks that I am more sexy and attractive than I have ever been. He pretty much can’t keep his hands off me. It took us 2 years and some medical intervention to get pregnant, so this pregnancy has pretty much been a miracle to us, and our relationship has never been better. It’s been a really happy and romantic time, which obviously adds to the fun of sex.

  25. I got pretty horny once “morning sickness” was over and masterbated quite a bit. My wife was weirded out by the baby to participate much. Now that she is pregnant, she feels super un-sexy and I’m not enjoying any second trimester hornyness with her. Oh well. Soon we’ll be done procreating and can get back to sexy times.

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