How to Safely Have Sex During Pregnancy

From the moment you see a faint little “plus” sign appear on that stick, it’s pretty clear your world is about to change in a million indescribable ways. But chances are, that same incredible moment will also send you down an information rabbit hole, as you feverishly begin to Google everything. Seemingly overnight, you’ll be asking the Interwebs whether it’s safe to do anything from eat string cheese to jump in a bouncy castle. And you’ll probably find yourself Googling how to safely have sex during pregnancy at least once.

Yep; the list of pregnancy worries sure do pile up. But the short answer to that last question, according to experts, is easy: Barring any high-risk pregnancy complications, having sex while pregnant is perfectly safe — so don’t be afraid to do it (and do it, and do it.)

Remember: His penis isn’t going to hurt the baby

I know what you’re thinking: With all that bumping and jostling, how could it notbother the baby? But your baby is safely protected thanks to the amniotic fluid surrounding them, which basically serves as one big shock absorber.

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“This protects the fetus during any sort of physical activity, whether that be running or having sex,” Dr. Holly Cummings, an assistant professor of Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology at Penn Medicine, tells Woman’s Day. So there’s “no need to worry that the physical nature of sexual activity can hurt the fetus in any way.”

Some positions will feel better than others, so don’t be afraid to switch things.

In fact, you may not have a choice in the matter, since some of your old standards may no longer be possible once you hit the third trimester. At that point, Dr. Cummings suggests using your physical comfort as a guide.

“For instance, if you are comfortable lying on your back, then go right ahead,” she says. “Although your partner should try to support their body weight with their arms rather than on your belly.”

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Other positions you may find more comfortable include lying on your side, or being on top (where you can control the depth of penetration), or on your hands and knees (AKA “doggy style”).

If you’re struggling with lower back pain, which is super common during pregnancy, Dr. Cummings suggests putting a pillow under your lower back if you’re lying flat, or between your knees if you’re on your side.

It’s all about getting comfortable with your partner andyour new bod.

Sometimes, worries about pregnancy sex have less to do with safety, and more to do with changes in body image. It’s an issue licensed therapist Sari Cooper sees all the time, as the Director of The Center for Love and Sex in New York City, and host of the web series Sex Esteem.

“Unfortunately, our society does a masterful job making most women feel that something is wrong with their bodies (at every weight), but certainly heavier women get the brunt of body shame,” says Cooper.

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This is why she encourages women to do as much physical activity as possible during their pregnancy that makes them feel both “embodied and strong.” Not only does exercise lift your mood, says Cooper, but it also keeps you in shape and connected to your body as you prepare for labor.

“I also invite them to say three positive things about their body while standing nude in front of a mirror each day to help battle the negative voices that continue to try and make them feel less than or unworthy of sexual pleasure,” she adds.

Know if you’re at risk, and talk to your doctor if you have any concerns.

According to Dr. Joseph Chappelle, a Board Certified Assistant Professor of OB-GYN at Stony Brook University in New York and the creator of The OB-GYN Podcast, there are a few circumstances where couples might need to abstain.

The most common is placenta previa, a condition where the placenta is partially or completely blocking the cervix.

“When this happens, there is a concern that any movement of the cervix (such as with intercourse) may cause the placenta to detach,” explains Dr. Chapelle. While 1% of all pregnant women will have placenta previa, the majority of cases resolve themselves by 28 to 32 weeks. Once this happens, your doctor should give you the go-ahead to resume sex.

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Another reason to abstain would be if you’re at high risk of preterm labor for any reason, such as having a short cervix. (“The thought here is that manipulation of the cervix may bring on labor,” explains Dr. Chapelle.) The March of Dimes also notes multiple pregnancies (of twins, triplets, or more) might also be a reason to abstain, as well as having had miscarriages in the past.

The bottom line? Talk to your healthcare provider about whether you’re at risk, and keep the lines of communication open throughout your pregnancy if you feel any pain at all or see signs of bleeding that concern you. And as always, remember to protect yourself against STIs (sexually transmitted infections).

Sex was a fun and natural part of your relationship before, and there’s no reason it shouldn’t be now — especially before that kiddo arrives and you really don’t have time for it.

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