Myth Busting – Sex During Pregnancy

There’s a strange detail I’ve noticed during my stint having babies. We don’t talk about sex. We act like the presence of a pregnancy means we have to stick to PG topics. It’s silly, really. It has fostered so many myths, we’ve clearly done a disservice by avoiding this topic. So let’s get down to myth busting, and talk about sex during pregnancy.

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I don’t want to get pregnant again

Superfecundation comes up surprisingly frequently in “shock and awe” pregnancy related content. Who’s seen a trashy daytime TV show where a set of twins’ paternity test proves they have two different fathers? Or heard a story from a friend of a friend about twins with different due dates? Or another friend of a friend who swears she had regular periods through her entire pregnancy? Most people seem to file that information into one of two categories. Either writing it off as an impossible urban legend, or panicking about it happening to them.

Good news and bad news. Superfecundation is absolutely real, and absolutely unlikely to ever happen to you. Fraternal twins occur when two seperate eggs are released. Occasionally, those two eggs won’t release simultaneously, or be fertilized simultaneously. If a very rare, very specific set of circumstances follows, it is technically possible to conceive multiples on different days. However, once implantation occurs, a cascade of hormones will kick in to keep the pregnancy viable. The cervix will seal itself off. The ovaries will stop releasing eggs. This means by the time you find out you’re pregnant, it won’t be possible to conceive again. Do feel free to use barrier methods for sexual health reasons, but don’t worry about a continuous chain of pregnancies. Your current pregnancy is the only one you’ll get, for now. If you have bleeding, even very regular bleeding, during pregnancy, know that it is NOT a period. You are not ovulating, and your uterus is not shedding it’s lining. Bleeding during pregnancy should be evaluated, but is in no way connected to superfecundation.

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I don’t want to hurt/hit the baby

Your baby is locked away like Fort Knox. Consider all the barriers between your baby and the outside world. Your cervix is closed. A mucuous plug is inside your cervix, providing an additional tight seal. Your uterus, with three layers of muscle tissue, surrounds your baby. The chorion and amnion are inside, and filled with amniotic fluid. Depending on the stage of pregnancy, you also have a pubic bone, or abdominal muscles covering your baby. Any circumstance that would get through all those layers and harm your baby would certainly hurt you first. Use common sense. 99% of sexual acts are incapable of harming your baby. Yes, even when having penetrative sex with a “larger” partner. The vagina is extremely elastic and, again, if it were capable of hurting your baby you would surely feel pain first.

The only circumstance wherein the above does not apply is when your waters have broken. Broken waters imply the barriers between baby and the vagina are gone. It’s still unlikely that one would actually hit the baby, but there’s an infection risk whenever something enters the vagina after membranes have ruptured. If you suspect a fluid leak, err on the side of caution until you’ve been assessed. That being said, sex is great for encouraging the onset of labour. Feel free to do whatever else you’d like, just no penetration after rupture.

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Sex while pregnant would feel awful anyways

This varies immensely from person to person. Many women have a great reduction in sex drive with pregnancy, and that is absolutely valid. Perhaps you’re having trouble reconsiling the identity of “mother” with that of “partner”. Maybe you’re feeling self conscious about the changes in your body. Maybe nausea and other pregnancy symptoms or complications make sex feel impossible. Maybe you can’t get past the knowledge that your baby is right there. Whatever it is, your body is yours, and you’re allowed to enforce boundaries.

That being said, others find their sex drive booms during pregnancy. Your hormones are going wild. By the end of a full term pregnancy, your blood volume will have increased by 50%, a large portion of which is circulating through your reproductive organs. If you find sex feels even better while pregnant, go for it! There are no rules here. Follow your heart and do what feels right.

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I can’t. Last time baby’s movement increased/decreased, or, I had a small amount of bleeding/Braxton Hicks contractions.

If you’re experiencing symptoms that genuinely make sex unsafe, your medical care provider will put you on what’s called Pelvic Rest. Pelvic rest can be extremely necessary, and helpful, and should absolutely be respected once enforced. That being said, minor issues occur after sex during pregnancy regularly. Your cervix is packed full of fragile blood vessels. The combination of increased blood flow, prostaglandins in semen, and friction can occasionally result in a burst vessel and a small amount of bleeding. Any bleeding should be reported to your care provider, and they will be able to assess whether or not pelvic rest is needed. But if it’s determined to be a benign issue, there’s no need to panic.

Many parents report a decrease in fetal movement during sex, followed by an increase in movement afterwards. It’s been theorized that the rythmic motions involved in sex literally rock the baby to sleep, whereas the contractions associated with orgasm and cessation of movement after sex combine to wake the baby up. Kick counts are very important, and it’s wise to take note of your baby’s overall activity level. However, slight variations, or predictable reactions to activities, are normal. Maybe your baby likes to kick more at night. Maybe they sleep every time you take a bus ride. You may notice similar patterns apply to sex. If there’s a drastic deviation from normal, or you suddenly stop making your kick count threshold, seek medical attention. If you aren’t sure your baby’s movement is normal, contact your care provider.

Braxton Hicks contractions after sex are very common. You’ll notice your abdomen tightening up, like a tiny painless (though sometimes quite uncomfortable) contraction. It’s theorized that the muscle contractions associated with an orgasm can trigger a bout of Braxton Hicks. Braxton Hicks contractions are also very commonly associated with exercise and dehydration, which may also play a role in post sex “practice” contractions. If you’re early in your pregnancy and worried your contractions necessitate a rush to the hospital, check for the ABC’s. Abdominal pain, Bleeding, and Cramping. If all three appear, seek medical attention. If you’re unsure, or experience any pain or bleeding, call your care provider. You should mention an intense Braxton Hicks or spotting to your care provider, but they ar If you’d like to encourage Braxton Hicks contractions to stop after sex, have plenty of water to drink and relax. Take a nap, a warm bath, have a cuddle.

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Having sex while pregnant is an awful lot like having sex any other time. Listen to your body. Understand your sexual health. Make your own boundaries. Get assessed when something doesn’t feel right.

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