During the middle phase of pregnancy (from about 12-14 weeks until about 28 to 30 weeks), many women find they have a renewed interest in sex, as they feel physically better and more energetic. The pregnant belly is not very big yet, making you feel relatively comfortable (compared to later in the pregnancy). There are now less concerns about miscarriage (or contraception) and both partners have usually come to accept the pregnancy, if there was initial ambivalence.
Women often feel more relaxed now, with sexual arousal and sensuality often becoming heightened. Extra blood supply to the vagina and clitoris increase sensations, making the genitals softer and ‘full’ and being able to achieve orgasm more readily. The nipples can be extremely sensitive to touch, being either more sensuous or perhaps uncomfortable. The breasts are larger and sometimes tender, so handle with care! A few women will start to secrete colostrum (the beginner milk that is produced before your milk officially comes in) from their nipples after about 14 to 16 weeks (although not every woman will).
By about 20 to 22 weeks (or earlier), the baby will start to be felt moving. This will initially only be sensed by the woman, but as the baby grows bigger and stronger (after about 24 weeks) the partner will also be able to feel their baby move (often as ‘jabs’ in their back at night if the woman’s belly is resting up against it when laying side by side).
The baby can move during sex (as they can at any other time) and are often stimulated to move more after an adrenalin release from the woman experiencing an orgasm (although they are no doubt oblivious to ‘what is going on’). Most people find their baby’s movements fascinating and/or amusing.
Others feel a little disconcerted, or perhaps somewhat put off from wanting to have sex (or even concerned or scared). If the baby moving does worry you, try and be honest about how you feel and share this with your partner, so they do not misinterpret your reactions as a rejection of them. Some couples find that by having vaginal penetration from behind the woman, they are less aware of the baby’s activity, helping them to deal with this.
Penetrative intercourse does not hurt your unborn baby. The woman’s cervix is sealed with a thick mucous plug and the sac of waters (or amniotic fluid) acts as a cushion to protect your baby. Pressure on your partner (from the man’s perspective) should be gauged by the woman’s comfort, as the baby is floating in a balloon of water and any pressure is dispersed by the fluid.
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 of any concern. They will generally subside after a few minutes to half an hour.
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 preterm birth and is therefore not discouraged unless there are pregnancy complications, such as the waters breaking prematurely or vaginal bleeding during pregnancy. Even so, you may wish to discuss any concerns with your caregiver.
- Pregnancy and sex
- Exercise during pregnancy
- Keeping your partner engaged with your pregnancy