This editorial series, S-E-X, is brought to you by the Fort Worth Moms Blog and Andrea Palmer, MD FACOG with Fenom Women’s Care. All 15 original articles from the S-E-X series can be found on our website.
If pregnancy has put zero damper on your sex life . . . Internet high fives all around; however, this post is not for you. This post is for the woman who finds herself needing several solid reasons to slip between the sheets again. This is for the woman who finds her libido drowsily trailing behind the desire for food that doesn’t make her upchuck and sleep that actually refreshes her.
Pregnancy is beautiful, but it isn’t always sexy. With internal organs in new locations, a protruding abdomen, and a soccer player using your womb like an arena, it’s difficult to get your head in the game. Pregnant sex requires creativity, patience, and a little flexibility. And if you’ve ever been pregnant, you know such things are no easy feat. Here’s the deal — sex during pregnancy can be a great thing.
- Improve self-esteem. While healthy weight gain is expected and necessary during pregnancy, it can also be discouraging. Sure, there are other ways to increase your self-esteem, but sex releases hormones like endorphins that positively change your brain chemistry. And as we all learned from Elle Woods, endorphins make people happy!
- Reconnect with your partner. If I had to guess, I’d say you’re probably not the only one feeling anxious about your baby’s arrival. In all the hustle of getting ready for baby, it can be easy to forget about your needs as well as those of your partner. Reconnecting physically and emotionally will help to ease any tension the two of you have been feeling. Oxytocin, or the “love hormone,” is also released during sex and helps strengthen your bond with your partner (and eventually your newborn).
- Orgasms = healthy pelvic floor = easier delivery. Listen, I didn’t know this until a few weeks ago, and you better believe I danced a little jig. That’s right, y’all, enjoyable and completed (ahem) sex actually strengthens your pelvic floor. A strong pelvic floor means strong, productive pushes in labor. Which also means a shorter pushing time and potentially less damage to your perineum. If you’ve ever had a baby, you know the hot mess your downstairs can become. So give yourself a pep talk and get busy!
- Natural induction when you’re ready. Oxytocin plays a huge role in the onset and progression of labor. This hormone is released during sex, labor, and breastfeeding. The release of oxytocin signals for a release of the hormone prostaglandins, which helps to ripen the cervix. Guess what semen has a high count of. That’s right, prostaglandins! While his swimmers may not put you into active labor, they could help thin your cervix in preparation for the big day.
I often say sex is like exercise. Sometimes you need to pep talk your way there, but once it’s over, you’re glad you did it. Can I get an amen? Just because sex has changed, doesn’t mean you can no longer get hot and heavy. As long as your water is still intact and your provider hasn’t told you otherwise, sex during pregnancy offers a lot of benefits. As with anything, if you have any questions, check with your care provider. Most of the time, sex is perfectly safe and highly encouraged by birth professionals.
If sex still repulses you or you can’t get busy due to health concerns, there’s no shame in finding alternative routes of physical connection . . . if you know what I mean. Wink, wink.