Sex during pregnancy isn’t always easy. In between the shifting hormones, the weight gain, and the exhaustion, it’s certainly not uncommon for you to find yourself “in the mood” far less frequently. After all, you’re growing a literal human inside of you. That’s badass! But it might also take a toll on your sex life, making it seem impossible have good sex while pregnant.
When I was in the third trimester of my third pregnancy, I started to realize that many of my struggles, though universal, were not nearly discussed as much as they should have been. In my mom-to-be circles, we talked about our underwear not staying up, swollen ankles, and that guy who thought it was okay to ask if you’re pregnant with twins. (Heads up, it’s not.) When it came to sex, we only discussed the fact that we no longer wanted to have it. End of conversation.
Which totally makes sense. When you’re pregnant, you become a walking universe of body and brains. Your body is not your own; you’re a mothership, feeling a galaxy explode and expand inside, changing your outsides daily. Your brain is lightyears ahead. Will the house be big enough? How will we pay for college? Will she be a drug addict? Not exactly sexy thoughts.
I should also mention the onslaught of body insecurities. When I was pregnant, it felt like I was inhabiting a stranger’s body while a tiny stranger inhabited mine. Will this back fat go away? Will I need an entire new wardrobe? Why is everyone touching my stomach? Your sex life, like many other things in your life, is suddenly eclipsed. If you’re lucky, your partner wants to get into your full-panel-maternity pants no matter what. But, and especially if you already have a kid, sex starts to feel like a luxury.
Deep down, we all know that if we want our relationships to endure the test of time and trials of parenting, we have to find a way to keep having sex. Here are a few tips to help all you beautiful mamas keep the fire burning.
Do I Have To? I’m Tired…
Do you have a partner whom you love and want to stay with for the long haul? Then you’ve got to prioritize sex. In fact, there is perhaps no better time to maintain your intimate relationship with your partner than when things feel stressful. After all, once the baby is born, it’s going to be even harder to have sex. You’ll want to get in the practice of prioritizing your pleasure now.
Recognize the moments when you feel tired versus when you feel energized and work around that schedule. If you’re exhausted by the end of the day, work in a morning session. If the workweek feels crazy, pencil in some sexy plans on a Saturday or Sunday. Scheduling sex might not feel sexy, but it’s honestly the best way for busy parents to make sure that they still get time with one another.
PSA: masturbation is self-care. You can have a quickie by yourself while your partner is in the shower, and it will make you that much more available and interested later in the evening before you turn on reality TV. For a lot of women, there’s a sweet spot during the second trimester when hormones are on fire and our bodies are actually craving sex. During this time, act on your impulses.
Masturbation will also help make it easier to transition back into a healthy sex life with your partner after the baby comes, and your doctor has given you the green-light to get back to business.
Add Some Accessories
Toys alone! Toys together! Grown-up toys are more important than anything on your baby registry and can be a shortcut to some mind-blowing orgasms. Instead of getting all up in your head about maternity leave, assembling the crib, and how your bra doesn’t fit anymore, build yourself a small arsenal of bedside buddies to help keep things playful and interesting.
First, invest in some good lube. Don’t think of lube as something you only need if you’re experiencing dryness, though that is common during pregnancy, think of it as a pleasure enhancer. Remember that water-based lubes are a win when it comes to toys as silicone lubes degrade silicone We don’t want that. If you’re about to have a baby, the last thing you need is your sex toys falling apart. If you’re feeling a bit clueless when it comes to shopping sex toys, there are several great options (from clitoral to internal) over at Good Vibrations.
That said, women are nervous about using internal toys while pregnant, especially as their due date approaches. The truth is that toys pose no more risk of interfering with your baby or the placenta than a penis does. If you’re still concerned about having sex or using toys during pregnancy, ask your doctor about it at your next appointment. You’ll get the reassurance you need to keep playtime a priority.
The Importance of Intimacy
Staying open and honest with your partner about any fears, anxieties, or declines in sex drive is so important. If you keep the focus on maintaining closeness with each other during and after your pregnancy, you’re demonstrating that you’re both invested in a healthy relationship for the long haul.
This closeness doesn’t just mean sex; it means remaining open to intimacy. Cuddling, massages, lots of physical contacts… These are all good for your relationship and for the baby.
So during the nine-month march towards a complete life transformation, make pleasure a priority. A healthy body, mind, and relationship depend upon our willingness to connect with ourselves and our partners both during our pregnancy and after. Don’t skimp on your sexual satisfaction. Instead, consider it an investment in your long-term happiness, sanity, and wellness.
Halina Grant is a writer and content manager with a focus on recovery, parenting, lifestyle, and women’s issues.