Late pregnancy, surveys show, is not a time when your sex drive is at its peak.
My friend Maria expressed her opinions to me when she was eight months pregnant.
“Maybe”, she said, “its something to do with the fact that, by this stage, your boobs are covered in unsightly veins, your pubic hair has disappeared beneath the bulging bump, and the midwife keeps talking about your perineum as though it is a piece of public property”.
– Emma Miles (Midwife)
She went on to explain that every night she and her husband went to bed, the baby would start to move and kick about furiously. Which, although held a certain fascination and enjoyment for them, was a complete turn off sexually.
But hold on a minute, I disagreed!
When I was pregnant, I had never felt so sexual in my entire life. I felt completely feminine for the first time, having been a total overgrown tomboy until then. It got to a stage where my other half was walking out the door one day, but looked so yummy in his suit and tie, he never made it to the car!
Despite differing views on this subject, pregnancy is a great time to enjoy sex. Increased blood flow to the pelvic area and extra lubrication of the vagina means that in theory making love can be better than ever. And, obviously, there is no fear of unwanted pregnancy! There is of course the expanding challenge of finding new positions for sex as your bump gets bigger, which can be a turn on in itself.
Many couples find that even with the woman on top, this can prove to be difficult. Another friend of mine, my hairdresser actually, (isn’t it amazing, the conversations you have with the person who cuts your hair?) said that while she was pregnant, she found that her redundant abs cradle, (previously bought years ago, used for about a week then abandoned in the shed), came in handy. She placed it around and above her husband’s head and used it to lean on for much improved manoeuvrability during sex! It makes me wonder what other wonderful methods could be used, but that, I think, is a whole other article!
Another common worry, mostly for men, is will sex harm the baby? The official advice for this is no, sex will not harm babies, but if you have had some bleeding in the first three months, the advice is to give penetrative sex a rest, or take it gently during this time.
There are two important things to remember about sex during pregnancy and after birth. First, everyone is different and second, whether you are more randy than you have ever been or totally off sex, it doesn’t matter. You need to give yourself time to adjust to the huge physical and mental changes happening to you and your partner. Accept that it will affect your sex life in one way or another, but as long as you keep talking and remember that sex isn’t just about penetration. There are lots of other sorts of sexual contact you can enjoy – it doesn’t have to be the whole thing or nothing!
After childbirth most couples need time to adjust to the huge upheaval of looking after a child, and it can affect your sex life in lots of ways. Some couples use the postnatal six week check with their GP as a start date to begin their sex life again, some take more than a year to get back to normal.
There is something to remember here though, and that is the fact that if you begin your sex life again very soon after childbirth, before you have had time to discuss or organise your continuing contraception method with your healthcare provider, there is a very real possibility that you could become pregnant again! If you are planning on using something other than condoms as contraception, then remember to use a condom until you have sorted out your continuing contraceptive method.
The body ovulates before menstruation, and most women do not know when this happens after birth. As a midwife, I have seen many a couple coming into hospital in labour nine months to the day that they left with their brand new baby! Remember, although “breast is best”, breastfeeding will not work as a contraceptive.
Whilst this is great for midwives (keeping us in a job and we are always happy to see a familiar face!), for some mums (and dads) having a newborn and a nine month old baby to care for can be a nightmare.
So, this is where condoms come into their own! (No pun intended). Not only can you guard against unwanted pregnancy after childbirth, using a good lubricant can help if you are worried about having sex soon after birth. (And its soooo much fun too!) One thing is certain, and that is having a baby changes everything, and that includes your sex life.