We're pregnant: Can we still have sex?

Dear Alice,

Me and my girl are having a baby. My girl is in her first month. Can we have sex and will it hurt our chances of having the baby?

Dear Reader,

Go right ahead! Unless there are complications with the pregnancy, it's safe to have sex because the fetus is protected by a cushioning sac of amniotic fluid. Think of an egg from the store: your baby is like the yellow yolk part in the middle of all that egg white — insulated from bumps, or humps, as the case may be.

Now, pregnancy can affect sex in other ways. For example, hormonal changes that accompany pregnancy often influence a woman's moods, which could alter her desire to have sex. For some couples, nausea, physical discomfort, weight gain, and changes in energy levels may present challenges to sex and the enjoyment of it.

As a result, an expectant couple may want to discuss experimenting with many different sexual positions, as well as try other ways to experience pleasure in case one of the partners does not want to have intercourse. Changing positions is key because some women may experience sex differently while they're pregnant; what they found pleasurable before conception may no longer be the case. That's why it can help for the woman to listen to her body and act appropriately. This is particularly true if a woman has any pain or uterine bleeding, or if her "water is broken," in which case she'll need to avoid sexual intercourse or penetration altogether and see a health care provider right away.

It's also essential to consider and respect emotional and psychological boundaries to sex during pregnancy in order for both partners to feel safe and comfortable with their decision. Talk openly with one another throughout the pregnancy (as well as at other times, too). What do each of you want emotionally? Some men may continue to feel uneasy or fearful of hurting the fetus during sex even if they know it's not possible. What about physically? With normal weight gain from pregnancy, some women may develop insecurities about their bodies and feel less desirable to their partner. How about sexually? One partner may want to have sex more often than the other, who may feel pressured or "obligated" to maintain a sex routine that predates the pregnancy. Discussing these issues, while respecting each other's concerns, could help bring about some sort of resolution.

For more advice on any of these matters, speak with your health care provider. They may be able to offer some more insight into your particular situation.

Best wishes on your soon-to-be new arrival,

Last updated Jun 03, 2015
Originally published Dec 10, 1999

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