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Sex during pregnancy: Your questions answered

Whether you’re keen to get back to it or avoiding it for fear of disturbing the baby with your activities. We have all the information you need, from safety and positions to bringing on labour.

As with everything in pregnancy, people feel very differently about sex. You and your partner might have lots of sex during pregnancy, or you may both want to avoid sex until after the baby is born.

In the end, you have to do whatever feels best for you as a couple. You should know that unless your midwife has said differently, it’s fine to have sex when your partner is pregnant, if you both want to (NHS Choices, 2018). Here are the answers to your key questions on sex during pregnancy.

Will sex during pregnancy harm the baby?

Sex during pregnancy will not harm your baby. Your penis cannot go past the vagina, so it can’t touch your baby.

Will our baby know what’s going on if we have sex while she’s pregnant?

We can say for certain: your baby will have about as much clue what’s going on as it does about British politics (NHS Choices, 2018). If your partner orgasms, your baby might move more than usual but that’s because it can feel her increased heart rate. Not your penis.

Will sex when my partner is pregnant cause her to go into labour?

If your partner has no complications and her pregnancy is coming along normally, having sex won’t increase her risk of going into labour. During the late stages of pregnancy, sex may cause Braxton Hicks contractions but that definitely doesn’t mean she has gone into labour (NHS Choices, 2018).

Which sex positions are best during pregnancy?

Everyone is different, and the sex position that works for one couple during pregnancy might not work for another. In early pregnancy your partner might find it uncomfortable to go on top (NHS Choices, 2018). Positions that penetrate deeply might also be painful for her while she’s pregnant (Mayo Clinic, 2018).

Having sex with a bump can be tricky generally, so you may find it better to have sex while lying on your sides. But the best thing to do is experiment with what works best for you as a couple.

Is sex during early or late pregnancy dangerous?

If having sex during your partner’s pregnancy will put her or your baby at risk, her midwife or GP will let her know. The times when you should avoid it include when:

  • your partner’s waters have broken

  • your partner has experienced heavy bleeding during pregnancy

  • your partner has a low-lying placenta (placenta previa)

  • there is a collection of blood in your partner’s womb (haematoma)

  • there are problems with your partner’s cervix

  • your partner is having twins (in the later stages of pregnancy[S4] )

  • your partner has previously had early labours and she is in the later stage of pregnancy.

    (NHS Choices, 2018)

Can you catch STIs during pregnancy?

Yes, absolutely – the same as at any other time. But it’s even more important to protect yourself because your baby can catch certain STIs through you. So if you or your partner is having sex with other people during your pregnancy, it is important that you use condoms (NHS Choices, 2018).

Is it normal for my partner’s sex drive to change during pregnancy?

Yes, it’s normal for your partner’s sex drive to alter hugely when she’s pregnant. Some women want a lot of sex during the second trimester, particularly around week 13 to 16, maybe because of increased blood flow to the area (NHS Choices, 2017).

On the other hand, your partner’s body is changing and she may feel less confident about it (Watson et al, 2015). The most important thing is to make sure you talk openly about how you both feel about your sex life and what’s going on.

Further information

NCT's helpline offers practical and emotional support in all areas of pregnancy, birth and early parenthood: 0300 330 0700. We also offer antenatal courses which are a great way to find out more about birth, labour and life with a new baby.