Is sex safe during pregnancy? + Other Safety Questions
Pregnancy is a life altering experience. Not just because it results in a child which is a whole other life altering experience. Pregnancy itself changes the way we eat, sleep, work, live.
You’ve probably heard about foods and medicines to avoid during pregnancy. You probably discussed with your doctor chores you should stop doing and the amount of weight you should expect to gain. Whether out of discomfort or because there are simply so many things to go over with your health care provider, you may still be wondering about some other pregnancy safety questions.
For instance, you may be wondering about the safety of having sex, driving, sleeping and exercise. Generally speaking these are all daily things you need to do and don’t change… that much.
One question I think almost every expecting dad wonders is: is sex safe during pregnancy? Often times they worry they’ll hurt the baby. Don’t worry guys, you won’t be poking the baby in the head.
How about we just jump in bed with that one…
Is Sex Safe During Pregnancy?
Simply put, yes. As long as your pregnancy is healthy and proceeding normally, it is safe and healthy to have sex during pregnancy.
Early in the pregnancy, you may be dealing with hormonal fluctuations that cause nausea, breast tenderness and fatigue. This might lower your desire to participate in sex. Later in the pregnancy, your sexual desire will be affected by the more rounded belly, back pain and, again, fatigue from hormones and carrying all that extra weight all the time.
Pregnancy is an emotional time. This can also dampen your desire to have sex. On the other hand, it can enhance the encounter. If concerns about how the pregnancy or baby will change your relationship weighs on you, discuss this with your partner. Increasing your intimacy with such discussions may help you feel more comfortable increasing intimacy in bed.
Some doctors suggest avoiding sex during the final weeks as a safety precaution since the prostaglandins in semen may stimulate contractions. Other doctors believe a semen to labor connection is theoretical and having sex does not trigger labor. Orgasm contractions are different than labor contractions so they are not a concern.
What are the Best Sexual Positions during Pregnancy?
As long as you’re comfortable, most sexual positions are OK during pregnancy.
As your pregnancy progresses, experiment to find what works best. Rather than lying on your back, which it’s recommended you not do after your first trimester, you might want to have your partner spoon you or position yourself on top. For more ideas there are illustrations of possible sex positions to try from Baby Center.
Oral sex is safe during pregnancy. If you receive oral sex during pregnancy make sure your partner doesn’t blow air into your vagina. It’s rare but a burst of air could block a blood vessel (air embolism), which may be a life-threatening condition for you and the baby.
Anal sex is OK to partake in during pregnancy. However if you have pregnancy-related hemorrhoids, this may prove uncomfortable and dangerous if they bleed. As usual, anal sex followed by vaginal sex may result in infection-causing bacteria to spread from the rectum to the vagina. This could lead to preterm labor.
Allow for creativity while keeping in mind mutual pleasure and comfort.
Are there times when sex should be avoided?
Although most women can safely have sex throughout their pregnancy, there are times when it’s recommended to be cautious. Your health care provider might recommend avoiding sex in high-risk pregnancies such as when:
- you have unexplained vaginal bleeding,
- you’re leaking amniotic fluid,
- your cervix begins to open prematurely (cervical imcompetence),
- your placenta partly or completely covers your cervical opening (placenta previa),
- you have a history of preterm labor or premature birth, or
- you’re carrying multiples.
What if I don’t want to have sex?
There’s more to a sexual partnership than intercourse.
Share your needs and concerns with your partner in an open and loving way. If sex is difficult, unappealing or off-limits, try another type of contact such as cuddling, kissing or massage.
You can return to sexual relations after the baby is born. Remember to give your body four to six weeks to heal from the birth — both vaginal and C-section — before trying to reignite sexual romance.
Get your guide about safer driving practices for during pregnancy
Is Driving Safe During Pregnancy? How about Travel?
Driving is actually one of the most dangerous activities we all do every day. Annually there are more than five million reported car crashes in US. Reportedly about 170,000 pregnant women experience a car crash every year. There is an estimated 3,000 pregnancies lost during car crashes each year.
Some of these losses occur when the crash is severe and takes mom’s life too. Many of these losses occur when mom has no obvious injuries. Some of these pregnancies can miscarry weeks after the crash without being linked to the crash.
With proper safety precautions, it is safe to drive throughout your pregnancy.
The most important safety precaution is to properly wear your seat belt. This means as low as possible across your hipbones and with the shoulder belt across midchest/midshoulder. When you are kept safe, your baby is safer. You are much safer wearing your seat belt and staying in your seat than not wearing it and being thrown about the car or out of the car.
While studies over the years have shown the seat belt is not optimal safety, it has been the best safety available… until now.
Historically, the seat belt was not designed nor crash tested specifically with the pregnant woman in mind. The second precaution is to use a Tummy Shield to safely redirect the seat belt away from the pregnancy. Remember not all pregnancy seat belt adjusters are created equal. There are no safety standards, yet, to test these to and many are not tested for safety at all.
We have a list of additional tips to stay safe for driving while pregnant.
What better time to travel?
Travel by plane also is safe during pregnancy.
Many women find themselves feeling too sick during the first trimester and too uncomfortable and tired during the third trimester. Some airlines may request clearance from your health care provider for flying during the third trimester as well. And it best not to fly during the last month of your pregnancy.
This makes the second trimester the best time to travel during pregnancy. As long as your pregnancy is healthy, you should have no problems flying. Experts say the radiation from security screen machines is too low to be concern for pregnant women.
So there you go, all set to travel.
Is it safe for me to sleep like I usually do?
I decided during my pregnancy that having trouble sleeping was really just preparing me for life as a new mom. That is never being fully rested.
When you are pregnant, you may find your normally favorite sleep positions to be uncomfortable. This could be for a variety of reasons like back pain or heartburn laying a certain way. Plus, emotional drama (excitement, worry, sadness, love, concern — you get the point) may can increase a propensity to insomnia.
After your first trimester, it’s recommended to not sleep on your back. Problems with digestion, breathing and blood pressure can occur as a result of the pressure of the growing baby on your intestines and major blood vessels (the aorta and vena cava). Of course sleeping on your stomach is off limits too. It seems pretty obvious why.
The best way to sleep while you are pregnant is on your side, most especially on your left side. Sleeping on your left side increases the amount of blood and nutrients reaching the placenta.
There are many types and sizes of pregnancy pillows available to help you find a comfortable way to get as much rest as you can during your pregnancy. It may take some testing to find the right fit for you and it could change as the pregnancy progresses.
Seriously, look at sleep, or the lack thereof, as practice!
Is it safe to exercise during pregnancy?
I was really fit the first time I was pregnant and wanted to keep up my exercise regimen of kickboxing a few times a week. I miscarried that one. And when I miscarried a second time a day after a good workout, I wondered. I read that exercise was good for pregnancy but after that I was scared to. My next pregnancy was even shorter.
By my fourth pregnancy, I was on progesterone shots and sick as a dog on the couch for the whole first trimester. Still worried about too much activity I kept to prenatal yoga and walking for that pregnancy. By my sixth pregnancy (third child) I continued running on days when I felt OK through the second trimester and walking through the third.
Beyond my personal experience, experts agree, in most cases, exercise is an integral part of a healthy pregnancy. Health care providers recommend remaining active as long as you remain comfortable and there are no other health conditions to indicate otherwise.
Some great prenatal exercise choices are prenatal yoga, walking, swimming and lots of squats (it helps open your pelvic outlet and helps the baby descend). Some activities to stay away from include activities that include a lot of jumping (say tennis or volleyball), where you may fall (say ice skating or skiing) or any intense activity in heat and humidity.
Remain active while staying in touch with how you feel exercising to make sure you don’t over do it. Bonus: Exercising during pregnancy will help you get back into shape after pregnancy. Time to get moving.
By Amie Durocher, Creative Director at Safe Ride 4 Kids and certified CPS Tech since 2004
Copyright 2021 Safe Ride 4 Kids. All rights reserved. You may not publish, broadcast, rewrite or redistribute this material without permission. You are welcome to link to Safe Ride 4 Kids or share on social media.
We originally published this post in February 2018. We updated the article for accuracy and comprehensiveness.