From Not Tonight to Feeling Just Right: Pregnancy and Sex

By Sofie Jacobs

You may be reading this thinking “what sex drive?” or you may be thinking “hell yeah to sex”, this is the dichotomy that is pregnancy. Whether due to hormonal or emotional changes some women can’t get enough sex during pregnancy and some don’t want anything to do with it. In fact, most end up experiencing both emotions at some point during their pregnancy. And what’s equally interesting so do their partners. It’s all part of the ups and downs, both mentally and physically during pregnancy. Every person is unique and their experience will be too, however, chances are there will be shifts from one extreme to the other when it comes to libido fluctuations during pregnancy. Hormones, mental connection, body image and beliefs can all have an affect on a person’s, and a couple’s, ebbing and flowing sex drive during pregnancy.

The Beginning of the Ups and Downs

First of all let me say, sex during an uncomplicated pregnancy is perfectly safe, whether or not she’s up for it, or he’s up for it, is another thing altogether.

During the first trimester a lot of women are feeling fatigued and nauseous, the last thing on her mind may be sex or feeling sexy. It’s generally not a time when sex is a priority for most pregnant women. That being said we all react to our pregnancies differently, hence different experiences. Some women feel sicker than others, it usually comes down to hormones. And interestingly some of those vomit inducing hormones you may have experienced in the first trimester just may turn into sex inducing hormones in the second.

Our perceptions of pregnancy and pregnant women also come into play in the first trimester.  During this time some couples begin to feel more bonded to one another knowing they are creating a life together. This can spark intimacy.

“Finding out my wife was pregnant made me feel more bonded to her instantly. Suddenly my sex drive went into overload just thinking about what we had created together.” D. 32, new dad.

However, some couples, especially some men, may feel afraid, intimidated or fearful of harming their partner or causing a miscarriage by engaging in sex. The woman may also feel this way. The pregnancy is new, the emotions are high, and whether mentally or physically your attitudes toward sex will definitely begin to shift and fluctuate, maybe even day-to-day.

The “Horny” Hormones

During the second trimester, things may begin to change, this applies to both women and men. It’s not uncommon for women to experience a higher sex drive during this time in their pregnancy. This is often called the “honeymoon” phase; increased energy, hormone rushes and a changing body often lead to an increase in libido. For the male partner, a change in her energy, attitude and body may also spark an increase in his sex drive.

For women, higher levels of oxytocin – the love hormone can increase the desire for intimacy. She will also have heightened levels of oestrogen which lead to physical changes such as increased blood flow and secretions in the vagina. The vagina and clitoris may swell and orgasms can intensify. I’m not promising anything, but if you are one of the women who experiences this, chances are you will be a bit more eager to get into the bedroom than usual. For men, these physical changes can also be a turn on. A curvier figure, fuller breasts and their partner’s enthusiastic attitude towards sex can send his sex drive into overdrive.  For some even the absence of worrying about birth control can lead to a renewed zest for sex. As one client said:

 “I still remember when my wife was pregnant, and I thought she looked totally, completely awesome, full of life, and very sexy too. There is nothing — and I mean NOTHING — as exciting as seeing a growing bulge on the woman I love who is carrying our child.” – S., 43, new Dad

Again there is a chance all of these changes can make either partner uncomfortable. The woman may suddenly seem more maternal, motherly and a vessel for their child. It all depends on previous beliefs and perceptions. In this case, either member of the couple can be completely turned off sex or simply afraid. The growing belly and breasts become signs that a baby is coming, or for some, it may, unfortunately, be a physical turn off.

The woman may also feel fat, self-conscious or undesirable due to all the changes in her body. What makes one woman feel sexy can make another self-conscious.  Even more complicated, one partner may feel an increased libido because of this, whereas the other may see it as a turn-off. The most important thing to remember at times like this, and there will be many, is to keep the lines of communication open. Speak your mind, share your thoughts. As a couple, you need to let one another know how and why you may be feeling the way you are. With hormones heightened, clear communication can help avoid any misconceptions and will keep a couple united no matter what their libidos are doing.

It Doesn’t Have to be Sex

During any time in the pregnancy, it’s important to remember sex doesn’t always mean penetration. Sex can be expressed in many ways. If one partner is not feeling sexual, cuddling, kissing, stroking or just lying together can strengthen a couple’s bond and may even lead to an unexpected spike in libido, even if it’s only temporary.

“Sex in the later stages was not my priority, but seeing my husband curled up next to me, rubbing my back and honestly feeling for me somehow sent a rush of sexual energy to my body and boom, it was on. It was short and sweet, and made me feel even more bonded to him.” A 31, 1st time Muma   

It’s important to have an open mind. During the final stages of pregnancy when the woman’s bump is quite large, a couple may have to be more adventurous with their positions.  Whatever the form, sex and intimacy can be had during all stages of pregnancy, as long as both partners are into it, comfortable both mentally and physically, and they keep an open mind.

At the end of the day, it may all seem like a roller coaster ride of ups and downs. And there will be many. Whether it’s hormones or attitudes and perceptions that contribute to libido fluctuations, I guarantee they will happen. The reasons are varied, but there are ways to deal with them, enjoy them and above all else bond as a couple as you go through them together.

In Urban Hatch, we want to provide you with expert guidance and ongoing support through your entire journey to parenthood, go check out HATCH™ , our online prenatal and postnatal classes today!


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