Does that title bring the Salt N’ Pepa song to mind? In their song they talk about how sex is a taboo subject; sex and pregnancy is even more so. How many of you have ever broached with the subject as a casual topic of conversation with your friends or family around the holiday table, “So, we’re pregnant now and we were wondering how your sex life was when you were pregnant – what can you tell us?” Lead balloon warning!
I thought I would write a brief post on this since it came up in last night’s review class. I also recently heard an “old wives’ tale” that I had never heard before at a birth circle: if you have sex during pregnancy your children are born with dimples. We are clearly not talking enough about sex during pregnancy to inform people of the truth and dispel the myths.
The truth is that as long as mom and baby are okay: no bleeding issues, no concerns that intercourse would compromise the pregnancy, your doctor hasn't told you to avoid "vaginal trauma" – then sex is okay as long as mom is willing. Coaches need to be sensitive to mom's needs: some moms feel completely relaxed and so sexy in their pregnancy glow. Other moms may feel large, uncomfortable and unattractive, no matter how much she is told that she looks beautiful and radiant.
Coaches need to be respectful of mom’s feelings and the positions that she is comfortable in. Be willing to try different settings, lighting or positions so that you can partake in the mutual affection that started growing this little person in the first place.
Sperm is actually beneficial to mom during pregnancy. It has antibacterial properties that are beneficial to both the male and female reproductive systems. Some people suggest that you should make love before taking your GBS test in order to increase the odds of passing and testing negative for strep colonization. Testing positive means that you will have to talk about antibiotics during labor - IV is the common mode of delivery these days.
Sperm is also natural prostaglandin that helps the cervix ripen when it is time for labor. If you are going to be induced, your care provider will insert a synthetic or animal-derived prostaglandin into your vagina.
The question we got last night is, “Can we have sex if we are in early labor to help get things going?” To which the moms scoffed and mentioned the coaches wanting to get in one more “session” before the baby was born, and one very attentive coach retorted, “Sperm is a prostaglandin – you will thank us for it!” (Did I mention we love our casual Q&A review sessions??)
So the answer is, yes, making love may get your labor to progress. Here are some of the reasons why:
- Oxytocin, aka the love hormone, is made when you make love and achieve sexual climax. You probably made it when you created your baby, and mom’s body needs more of it during labor for her contractions. If you can make it in a fun way, then go for it.
- If mom reaches a sexual climax, that “contraction” begets another contraction in the uterus and sometimes the chain continues to build.
- If you stimulate mom’s nipples while you make love, you will again aid in oxytocin production. Nipple stimulation can be extremely effective; it’s usually recommended to only do one nipple at a time.
- Sometimes we need to let go and give in to our labor in order for things to progress. The act of making love helps us lower our inhibitions – maybe this act will help us relax and accept the rest of the labor.
- Sperm is a prostaglandin; some women find a natural deposit of prostaglandin is preferable to an uncomfortable insertion process.
When is intercourse during labor contraindicated?
If mom is not in the mood, leave her alone. She is busy working to meet your baby – suggest something else to stimulate her labor if you feel time constrained for any reason.
If the bag of waters has broken, it’s a definite no. You do not want to introduce anything going upstream against the flow. The fluids moving down are washing possible bacteria away from your baby. Forcing things in the other direction is an open invitation for an infection that can complicate your labor and your birth plans, which is why we also encourage students to limit vaginal exams, especially when the bag of waters has ruptured.
I will close with this thought: when we talk about sex and pregnancy during class two, we do tell our couples to think about sex during pregnancy as a bank account. You need to make deposits because you will be in "withdrawal only mode" on that love and affection for at least six weeks after your baby is born. I have a personal theory that some of us are not interested in sex after our six-week recovery period because our chemical oxytocin needs are met when we breastfeed.
So, in a way, I wanted to side with the dads last night - yes, if they could talk their partner into one more time, their own self-interest would be served while they helped and contributed their special sauce to the labor process. On the other hand, I have never felt an urge to make love while in labor - I cannot even imagine...
I hope this information helps you have a conversation about sex with your partner – whether you are in one of your trimesters or thinking about making love while you are in labor.
What has been your experience with sex during pregnancy and/or labor?
The material included on this site is for informational purposes only.
It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation. This blog contains information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.