Sex during pregnancy
This article is originally written by Prof. Dr. Rajan Bhonsle. This is one of the most common questions posed by couples expecting their first child. Their lack of knowledge regarding the correct method, timing and frequency cause varied misconceptions and at times, a total withdrawal from sex. This often backfires, as the woman, owing to her psychological state and emotional needs, fails to understand the behavioral changes in her partner. Here’s what to expect.
Emotions on high
During pregnancy, a woman’s mental make-up undergoes a dramatic change. She becomes emotional and sometimes oversensitive. The way her needs are acknowledged (or dismissed) affects her mental state and thereby the fetus as well. If she feels that her husband is not adequately responsive, she may get irritable, and suffer from insomnia,loss of appetite or over-stimulated hunger.
Most men are unaware that their behavior often causes these emotional upheavals. Many take the easy way out and take their wife to the doctor, without realizing that she simply needs her husband to understand her moods, feelings and anxieties.
Discrepancy in sex drives
The changes taking place in the mother-to-be are part of her biological make-up. Hormonal and chemical changes prepare her for conception, pregnancy and childbearing. The awareness that she is pregnant creates new aspirations and sexual relations go down the priority ladder. There is, however, no such biological change in the man. He needs to make himself aware of the physical and emotional demands of fatherhood, but continues to feel the urge for intercourse. In such a situation, it is essential that he does not force this one-sided need on his pregnant wife.
Though a woman may not have strong sexual urges, she does need warm and gentle physical contact and caressing. In the process, if she is aroused and willing, they can have intercourse too. However…
- Avoid the missionary (man-superior) position. Woman on top position is advisable, or they both could be in a sitting position, so that there is no pressure on her abdomen and that movement is gentle.
- The ‘spoon position’ is also recommended. The position is when the couple lie on their sides, their legs bent upwards, both facing in the same direction, with the man behind the woman. It is called the ‘spoon’ position because it is like two spoons, one nestling inside the other. This is a very ‘gentle’ position as neither partner is putting any weight on the other, and it is particularly good for making love to a pregnant woman.
Watch out for
- If, during missionary position, the man is on the top, his weight bears down on the woman, and without his realization, the movements can become rough. This, in turn, can disturb the fetus.
- Intercourse should be avoided from the sixth to the twelfth week of the pregnancy, as it can cause miscarriage. Sexual abstinence is recommended during the last two months of pregnancy as well. At this time, if one indulges in sexual intercourse, there is risk of the essential amniotic fluid leaking out, causing complications.
- During the fourth to seventh month of pregnancy, intercourse is allowed unless you are otherwise advised for medical reasons.
- Sexual acts such as oral and anal sex should be avoided.
Word of caution
During pregnancy, a woman does not retain her shapely figure. It is possible that the man may be sexually drawn to other women. In fact, men are often tempted to indulge in extra-marital affairs during this time. A woman’s needs during pregnancy undergo a major transition. It’s certainly not right, if the husband, instead of understanding this change, enters a relationship outside marriage.
This can be dealt with if the man is equally involved with the pregnancy. In fact, the couple can create deeper bonds during this period. Being present during sonograph sessions, choosing the baby’s name, his/her new clothes, etc can help men grow in their new role.