Pregnant individuals often worry about how pregnancy will affect their sex lives, as their bodies will undergo significant change. Often, favored sex positions can become awkward or uncomfortable as the pregnancy advances and the baby continues to grow. Pregnant couples are free to engage in sexual activity as long as a doctor has not advised them otherwise, and the positions are safe for pregnancy. There are a variety of sexual positions that can safely benefit pregnant couples’ sex lives including, but not limited to: missionary position, female supported on top, legs on shoulders, doggy style, side-by-side rear entry, seated position, and non-coital stimulation.
Harmful Sexual Practices
A sexual practice that can cause harm to a fetus is blowing air into the vagina, which may create an air embolism. An air embolism occurs when one or more air bubbles enter a vein or artery and block it. These air bubbles can travel to the heart, brain, or lungs causing a stroke, respiratory failure, or heart attack. In pregnant females, the air embolism can occur if there is an injury or tear in the uterus, vagina, or placenta.4 Anal sex may be uncomfortable if the female has pregnancy-related hemorrhoids. It is also discouraged due to the risk of moving fecal bacteria to the vagina, allowing infection-causing bacteria to invade this area. These infection-causing bacteria can threaten the health of the fetus.4 Another potentially harmful aspect of sexual activity is when a pregnant mother acquires a sexually transmitted infection (STI) from her partner. These STIs can be transmitted to the fetus during pregnancy or during delivery as the baby passes through the birth canal. For this reason, condoms are recommended for sexual activity, including coitus and oral sex, because they are the most effective method for preventing STI transmission.1 Sexual activity during pregnant is safe, unless the following medical conditions and symptoms are present:
- Increased risk of miscarriage or risk of premature birth (specified by a doctor)
- Unexplained vaginal bleeding
- Leaking amniotic fluid
- Placenta previa, a condition where the cervix is covered by the placenta
- Incompetent cervix, when the cervix opens too early
The pregnant female’s doctor can give advice as to whether or not it is safe to engage in sexual activity. Sexual activity during pregnancy may necessitate some modifications to customary sexual practices, but sexual activity is usually safe because the fetus’s positioning protects it from harm during sex.1
Missionary position is a convenient sexual position to use during intercourse. One partner lies face up on their back while the other partner positions their body facedown above them. It is a good idea for the partner on top to use their hands and knees to keep some or all of their weight off of their partner. Distributing the weight protects the baby by preventing pressure from being applied directly to the stomach. This position allows partners to face each other and maintain eye contact. Missionary position is endorsed because it allows for both sexual stimulation and comfort. The partner who is lying on their back can manually stimulate themselves or their partner during penetration. Pillows can be placed under the hips and buttocks of the partner who is lying on their back in order to achieve the most comfortable positioning. Pillows can be a great resource in this sex position because they change the angles of penetration and can create a supportive and comfortable position. Furthermore, pillows can be useful because they may increase G-spot stimulation.2
Female Supported on Top
Having one partner on top of another can be somewhat difficult if both partners have large stomaches, but there is a way to deal with this obstacle. Pillows can be used to support the body in this position as well. One partner will take their position on top, while the other partner has pillows placed under their buttocks for comfort. The person on top either leans against their partner’s bent legs or holds onto their partner’s shoulders for support. The partner on top can put their hands on the ground for balance while placing their feet firmly against a surface for stability. The person on the bottom can hold onto their partner’s hips to control the depth of penetration. The bottom partner’s hands can also be used to provide manual stimulation that their partner may enjoy during intercourse.2
Legs on Shoulders
In this position, one person sits upright on their knees while their partner lies on their back. The partner on their back will place their ankles on the upright person’s shoulders. The person kneeling can hold onto their partner’s hips, or lift their partner’s buttocks with their hands. Pillows may be helpful in this position because they can be placed under the lying partner’s back to provide extra support. Partners are able to find additional ways to arouse and explore each other’s bodies by stimulating the breasts, arms, hips, and legs during intercourse.2
Doggy style involves a person positioning their body behind their partner. The partner in front can balance on their hands and knees, while the person penetrating from behind kneels in an upright position. The person in the back can steady himself or herself by placing their hands on their partner’s hips. The hips can also be used as leverage for thrusting. For maximum comfort, a pillow can be placed under the stomach of the front partner for support. If the person in front is female, her partner can reach around and manually stimulate her vulva and clitoris.2
Side-by-Side Rear Entry
Side-by-side rear entry is the least stressful position during late pregnancy, but it tends to be less stimulating because it limits movement. This position is similar to doggy style because it involves rear entry. Side-by-side rear entry is when both partners lie down on their sides with one person in front of the other in a back-to-front position. The partner in the back is the penetrator in this position. This position can also be described as “sexual spooning.”3
A great option for pregnant individuals is to have sexual intercourse in the seated position. The penetrating partner is seated in an upright position while the other person sits on their lap facing them. The top partner straddles the seated person with their legs arranged on either side of their partner’s body. The top person can bend their knees at a 90-degree angle to use the ground for support and to facilitate movement. Variations can be made to this position by having the top partner hold onto the other person and lean back at numerous angles, allowing for various levels of penetration. The person on top must be sure to keep a firm grip on their partner in order to stay balanced, as chairs and other surfaces are not always stable. This position is beneficial for pregnant individuals because it allows them to regulate the depth of penetration and receive pleasure.3
If sexual intercourse becomes too uncomfortable or difficult, partners can use non-coital forms of stimulation. Mutual masturbation allows people to manually stimulate each other’s genitals. People can orgasm from manual stimulation alone and the activity does not have to lead up to more sexual activity. When a person manually stimulates a female partner’s vulva, it is often referred to as fingering. It is common for a partner to insert one or more fingers into the vagina or to stimulate the clitoris. Manual stimulation of the penis is commonly called a hand job. The partner generally slides one or both hands up and down the penis You can masturbate your partner or even masturbate in front of them.
Oral sex has also become popular over the years. Oral stimulation of the penis, or fellatio, occurs when one person inserts their penis into the mouth of their partner. The partner moves their mouth up and down the shaft of the penis, while keeping their lips slightly pursed to provide stimulation. The tongue also can be used to stimulate the sensitive portions of the penis, the corona and the frenulum. Oral stimulation of the vulva, or cunnilingus, is another option. The female’s partner can utilize their tongue and lips to stimulate her vulva. The tongue is a great resource because it is wet, soft, and mobile. Another oral sex option is the “69” position. The couple can arrange their bodies into a mutual head to genitals position where they both would perform oral sex on one another. Coitus is not necessary for pregnant individuals or couples to attain genuine sexual satisfaction.1
The key to comfortable and pleasurable sexual activity during pregnant is to find comfortable, safe, and arousing positions. There are plenty of sexually stimulating activities for couples to enjoy. The best sex often comes when individuals experiment and discover what positions are most desirable for them and their partnership.
1. LeVay, Simon, Janice I. Baldwin, and John D. Baldwin. Discovering Human Sexuality. Sunderland, MA: Sinauer Associates, 2015. Print.
2. Strovny February 1, 2006, David. "Sexual Positions For Overweight People." AskMen. AskMen, 2006. Web. 04 Oct. 2016.
3. Miller, Korin. "Sex Positions for Every Mood." Cosmopolitan. Hearst Communications, 3 May 2012. Web. 4 Oct. 2016.
4. Staff, By Mayo Clinic. "Pregnancy Week by Week." Sex during Pregnancy: What's OK, What's Not. Mayo Clinic, 31 July 2015. Web. 15 Oct. 2016.
Last Updated 20 October 20 2016.