Sex during pregnancy: What you need to know, trimester by trimester

Now that you know you are pregnant, you may have things on your mind that don't have anything to do with your and your partner's intimacy. And sex is probably not on the list.

That's alright - but remember that to have a fully rounded happy relationship, intimacy is something important that you need to look after. Think of these nine months as practice for when your baby comes.

If you are distracted enough to let your intimacy dive now, imagine what you will be like once you are a parent and the tiredness, lack of time and privacy kick in. Now is the time to learn to work around the obstacles.

Have a look at this guide as it takes you through the trimesters, explains how they affect your sex drive, and gives you ideas on how to keep the spark alive.

First trimester

This may be the most difficult time for your sex drive. Since the pee stick turned up two lines, you may have morning sickness, experience fatigue and have a lot of things on your mind.

Getting through each day at this stage means all you want to do is flop onto your bed and sleep. So, it's not surprising that your sex drive may have taken a dive.

However, your partner may be feeling similar - not with the physical symptoms, but he may also have a lot on his mind and questions about pregnancy and sex. The two of you need to communicate openly at this stage.

Talking openly about sex to your partner shouldn't be embarrassing – after all, it's what got you pregnant in the first place. Let him know that your lack of desire has everything to do with the fact that you are not feeling at your best physically - and nothing to do with him.

Also explain to him that this stage will, most likely, not last your whole pregnancy. He may also have questions about sex during pregnancy and whether it is safe – you need to reassure him that it is, and urge him to ask the doctor any questions at your next appointment.

Penetrative intercourse does not hurt your unborn baby. Your cervix is sealed with a thick mucous plug and the sac of waters (or amniotic fluid) acts as a cushion to protect your baby. Physically, your body is going through changes that can make certain areas more sensitive.

Your breasts, especially in your first trimester, may feel especially sensitive. While this may make foreplay more enjoyable for some, others, may find it slightly unbearable. Again, speak openly to your partner about this.

Positions:

Because you are not showing at the moment, you aren't limited to certain sexual positions. However, try to stay away from anything that causes you to lose your balance and fall. And if you are tired and don't feel like doing much of the work, the standard missionary position will do wonders.

Second trimester

During the second trimester, your sexual desires may increase because the surge in hormones may heighten your libido. Also, the morning sickness and other negative pregnancy symptoms may have faded at this point, leaving you feeling more energetic.

There is an increase in blood flow to your pelvic area too – making your vaginal area more sensitive and moist, which can add more pleasure to sex. Not only your desires, but your ability to reach orgasm easily will increase as well. It is at around 20 weeks that you may start to feel your baby move.

What a lot of people don't know is that the baby can move during sex and is often stimulated to move more after an adrenalin release from an orgasm. Some women experience Braxton Hicks "tightenings" or contractions during sex and orgasm.

These are a normal part of the pregnancy after about 20 weeks and are not cause for any concern. They will generally subside after a few minutes to half an hour.

Positions:

If you have had an increase in libido, take advantage of it and have fun.

Once your bump begins to show, you may want to adjust positions to get more comfortable. That is what it is all about at this stage - feeling comfortable. So, work on figuring out the best positions for you and your partner, according to your growing bump.

Third trimester

With your ever-growing bump and, probably, your feet, don't be surprised if your sex drive starts to wane during this final stretch.

Being this pregnant often puts strain on your body, especially your joints and muscles, and even your balance. If there is a time in your pregnancy when you should take it easy, it's now.

Caregivers used to advise against sex "in case" it triggered premature labour.

However, it is now known that sex does not influence the likelihood of pre-term birth and is therefore not discouraged unless there are pregnancy complications, such as the waters breaking prematurely or vaginal bleeding.

Talk to your partner about how you are feeling during this time and perhaps spend your intimate moments cuddling and talking to your baby if you are not up for sex.

Positions:

Because of the size of your bump, you may find that some of your favourite positions are out of play. Try being on top, or spooning to ensure there is no pressure on your tummy.

Here are some simple tips to let your intimacy flow:

Turn up the heat

Invest in sexy, yet comfortable, maternity underwear (yes they do exist) and even a few slinky nightgowns. If you feel a little sexier, you may want sex a little more.

Look after yourself

You may be putting on weight and waddling around, but a manicure, pedicure and wax go a long way towards helping you feel better about yourself.

Make one night a week a special night

Light candles, put on music and get out some strawberries. It may sound like a cliché but try it. It works! 

After your first trimester, ask your partner to give you a back rub with some oil, or to massage your aching feet. A simple touch can lead to naughty thoughts.

No pressure 

If, for any medical reason, you are not able to have sex, this needs to be discussed with your caregiver.

Not all women experience the same pregnancy. So, while some may have an increased sex drive, others may have the opposite.

Don't put pressure on yourself for not feeling what others feel.

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