Sex & Pregnancy: Is It Safe? Is It Fun? We Have The Answers

Download The Sex & Pregnancy Podcast
9.93 MB 24:45 Min


Our Experts In This Episode 

Dr. Yvonne K. Fulbright is a “sexologist” who has authored or co-authored several books, including Your Orgasmic Pregnancy: Little Sex Secrets Every Hot Mama Should Know. She -- among many other things -- is the sex columnist and sex expert for and a sexuality blogger for Fulbright received her Ph.D. in International Community Health Education at New York University, is a Certified Sex Educator through the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists.
Welcome to your Pea in the Podcast, I'm Bonnie Petrie with everything you need to know about your body, your baby and the big changes ahead in your life as you begin your journey to becoming a mommy.
This week, hello hot mama!  Who knew pregnancy could be sexy?
From the way you look...
"She's going to have bigger breasts, she's going to have better skin and hair this is especially going into the second and third trimester."
To the way you feel...
"A woman is going to feel more sexual, she's going to have more sensual urges, she's going to experience more blood flow to the genitals."
Moms-to-be confess to a sexpert...
"Between increased erotic dreams and the state of congestion going on in the genitals they were ravenous for sex."
Ravenous huh? Well we talk to renowned sexologist Yvonne Fulbright about how you, too, can have an orgasmic pregnancy after which you say...
"I never knew that I had that kind of potential!"
It's sex and your pregnancy in this Pea in the Podcast.
Well you've gotten your positive pregnancy test. That's the end of your sex life right? Not on your life!
"What we see in T1 and T2, or the first two trimesters, is a spike in estrogen, and what this actually lends itself too is the woman is going to feel more sexual. She's going to have more sensual urges, she is going to experience more blood flow to the genitals and this is increasingly throughout pregnancy which is going to make for more sensitivity and this is going to make her clitoris feel swollen, her labia are going to be pulsating, she's going to see increased vaginal secretions and all of this can feel really amazing, or can be really annoying."
So don't be surprised if once your pregnancy hormones start surging you become a wild goddess of love.  But Dr. Yvonne Fulbright who co-wrote Your Orgasmic Pregnancy: Little Sex Secrets Every Hot Mama Should Know, says don't be too disappointed if that's not the case for you right away.  Everyone responds to pregnancy differently. Some of you will be awash in sexual energy...
"For others they're going to be bowing to the porcelain god for most of the time, feeling more nauseous than anything, although, fortunately, a lot of these women do feel more sexual going into their second trimester.  And then you have the women and their partners who realize oh I am having a child! There is this guilt over the fact that they feel sexual, that they are becoming increasingly sensual, and that's because we don't hear enough about hot mamas in our society and the fact that pregnant women can be very sexy women and very sexually responsive."
And you can't underestimate the effect of the surge of progesterone in your first trimester. Some moms-to-be feel flat out exhausted and that makes their interest in sex disappear.  This has been true for Alissia.
"My experience is that I have absolutely zero interest. I've kind of made that clear and I keep telling my husband that hopefully by the second trimester there will be some interest back but for me right now all I can think about is sleeping and when my next nap will be."
But Dr. Fulbright says for many, pregnancy is a time when women feel more sensual, sexual and more beautiful than ever.
"She's going to have bigger breasts, she's going to have better skin and hair.  This is especially going into the second and third trimester. And a lot of pregnant women have confessed to me and my co-author that between increased erotic dreams and the state of congestion going on in the genitals that they were ravenous for sex and they were taking matters into their own hands and they were wanting to be with their partners more. And there were a certain degree of sexual frustration, especially if the partner wasn't being responsive because it was like 'wait nobody ever tells you that this is part of the experience for someone and that it is okay.' It's just kind of, in retrospect, it is amusing when they kind of see like wow I never knew that I had that kind of potential."
But this is a problem many women run into.  Their partners seems to lose interest in sex the moment they find out their lover is also their baby's mother.
"I think a lot of it is because we haven't seen enough positive imagery. A lot of men are looking at her as a mother instead of a sexual partner and a lot of them also have fears around things like maybe harming the fetus. A lot of couples are not informed, a lot of them are not communicating with their physicians about how do we maintain a sex life, are we good to go during the next 9 months and beyond. And research actually shows that as long as you have no risk factors, for example, that both partners do not have a sexually transmitted infection, than sex during pregnancy does not harm the fetus."
So let's put that myth to bed right now. Repeat after me, sex during pregnancy does not harm the baby.  Dr. Fulbright said so.
"It's physically impossible for the penis or semen to come in contact with the fetus, so nobody has to worry about banging up against the baby during intercourse. I think that people also need to realize that oxytocin is released during the orgasmic response the baby is going to end up really good in this whole process. It's like a little bit of a natural drug that the fetus gets and you might notice kicks and a little bit of a reaction but this is a good thing. The baby is having a good time too."
Doctors may tell some of you not to put anything in your vagina during your pregnancy.  That's called pelvic rest. When you get advice like that, follow it. But other than that, let your developing baby enjoy the happy hormones that sex and closeness provide.
For some partners, they still have a problem making love to their pregnant partners, even if your desire for them has never been greater. That can hurt. Sometimes it can hurt a lot. What do you do about that?
"There is no easy answer, quite honestly. I think a really good thing for a couple to do is just seek counseling during this time, and that is often because, for example, one woman we interviewed for the book...her husband had a really hard time as seeing her as sexual being because of his Catholic upbringing, and that is the kind of thing where someone really needs to go to counseling to kind of get over the negative messages that they got around being a sexual being, growing up. There is no, you know, quick fix, but I think the more a woman can sort of tap into her sexual, sensual side for example in the way that she dresses or in her attitude or in ordering lingerie during pregnancy. While she can't expect those to be magical solutions, he may not react the way she wants. At least making those small efforts will help him react to the sexual energy that he is putting out there."
And if he reacts he might find that he enjoys your fuller breasts, your roundness, your softness and the extra lubrication and he might also find that the actual act of intercourse feels different in a good way.
Dr. Fulbright explains why...
"With a lot of women preparing for vaginal childbirth a lot of them are doing those Kegel exercises which is where they are exercising their pubococcygeus or pc pelvic floor muscles and with this they are going to be able to better grip the penis.  They are going to experience more sensation.  They are going to have basically better sex, and a lot of women don't start these exercises until they know they are expecting and there are a lot of benefits to be gained from that extra pc muscle control."
As your body grows and changes you may find that you're the one having trouble feeling sexy. You may just feel huge and clumsy and unattractive. Dr. Fulbright says that is not at all unusual and your partner can help you through that.
"For sure. And I think the one thing that the partner can do best is to keep saying you are very beautiful, you mean a lot to me, your body looks amazing because this person is carrying your child and the human body is amazing.  In that respect and I think she really needs some goddess worship during this time even if it's a different kind of god that you're worshipping because she's creating a miracle and there's nothing else, there's no other way her body can go about."
Try to remember that when you look in the mirror and your face looks like a moon to you, and you think you look more like a weeble instead of a fertility goddess. I know I'm not the only one to look in the mirror and think about how I might wobble but I won't fall down. You are growing a person in there, a real little human being, and it is a special kind of magic you are performing.
That is beautiful.
Okay so you're listening along to this podcast going no fair, what did I miss? I would rather be run over by a mac truck than even consider making love to my baby's father. Well first off, Dr. Fulbright says give yourself a break.
"I think one thing that we have to keep in mind is this is very, very individual and I don't want women to get caught up in that headspace of how am I compared to the other women, especially you know your mother, your sister, your best friend, anybody else who has been pregnant that is saying this is what happened to me. There can be certain norms with this stuff but never try to do that comparing yourself to everybody else. It's just not really healthy."
No matter where you and your partner are in relation to sex in your pregnancy, Dr. Fulbright says, as with most things, communication is the key.
"Couples need to communicate throughout the pregnancy and thereafter as far as you know where they are at, if they are suffering from a low desire disorder and really trying not to take it personally although I know it is really hard not to do that. But both partners can take matters into their own hands. They can have intimacy that doesn't necessarily have to involve sexual intercourse. And there's certainly activities especially in the third trimester that they will not be able to do for example certain sexual position. So I think the more communication that can take place and the more permission giving they can be the better that they will successfully navigate this time period."
And intimacy without intercourse is wonderful, and includes lots of wonderful options.
"Cuddling, I think activities where you are just feeling bonded like in a bath, watching romantic movies and things like that. It's more about just spending the time together and feeling the psychological support more than engaging in a certain activity. Of course if the woman is on bed rest it is really going to the limit the kind of physical affection that take place beyond hugging, cuddling, kissing."
Don't underestimate the value of hugging, cuddling, kissing. I often attribute my daughter's sunny nature to the almost nightly belly and often fully body rubs my then husband gave me, complete with cocoa butter.  They were so relaxing and built so much intimacy between the two of us during that time. He never really knew my body as well as he did during my pregnancy, and the baby loved the massages too. I know the happy hormones were coursing through me during that time and I know they were really, really good for the baby.
Also, pregnancy and the time postpartum, well, it's a very vulnerable time for many relationships. Some start to feel strained as the partners roles begin to evolve during pregnancy. And some relationships crack in the very stressful period postpartum. Some even break apart. That physical closeness won't stop that, but Dr. Fulbright says it may help.
"It's extremely important and not necessarily needing to be sexual either. And the sexual component is a bonus but I think a lot of times a couple gets mental strength from each other in maintaining that touch and it's the couples do the best job with maintaining the physical, sexual intimacy that are able to reconnect in the time after birth. A lot of couples will report after the baby is there that they are experiencing low sexual drive or dyspareunia, which is painful sex. Though most women do claim moderate satisfaction if they are able to stay physically intimate in any kind of way."
Stay physically intimate and communicate.
As your pregnancy progresses you may find that you need to get a little creative in your love life but hey isn't that part of the fun? What kind of things can you do?
"Pretty much everything that you did before you got pregnant. Granted that T3, the third trimester, will limit some of your positions and of course the woman doesn't want to be on her back for more than 5 minutes and you don't want to put any kind of pressure on her abdomen from basically the first trimester but basically still anything goes. You can still enjoy erotica; you can still use sex toys as long as you're keeping them clean. It's still anything goes and I think the more couples give themselves permission to keep up their same activities the better time, easier time they'll have."
As your baby grows, and therefore your belly, some people begin to suffer pregnancy discomfort. Sheri, for example, dealt with hip pain in her second trimester of her second pregnancy. She was still loving sex though.
"Positioning.  Top is the way to go especially with the hip issue so that works out okay. And breastfeeding my daughter came more breast sensitivity so I actually enjoy sex more than. Go figure. Who would have thought that?"
Like Dr. Fulbright said, it's variable. Second trimester mom Stephanie isn't having any discomfort as her belly grows.
"Not really, not really. We just have to change our position a little bit."
And as you go into the third trimester, necessity will continue to be the mother of invention, as Brandy found out.
"Missionary of course is not really possible with this big bump in the way. You have to be creative with positioning."
By the time Brandy's baby was born -- a little boy, by the way -- she and her husband were having intercourse merely for its benefits as a possible labor starter. At 41 weeks it was no longer fun for her and after her baby dropped, well, it hurt.
But intimacy: touching, kissing and cuddling remains wonderful right up to and including labor. Many moms to be find physical affection really helps them through contractions. Some of you will not want to be touched at all by anyone when you're having contractions, but some of you will find caresses and kisses from your lover, well, it makes labor more bearable. Some of you will go back and forth between the two.  You know, labor is a rollercoaster like that.
Some of you may be wondering about sex after the baby. Dr. Fulbright says you should talk about that with your partner.
"A lot of time couples don't discuss post-partum plans for intimacy so that is one way they have troubles and kind of knowing to expect and what the other is going to be in the mood for. Of course you can't totally plan, anything can happen on delivery day but I think if people have a good sense as far as we want to maybe be intimate by around this week. And you know this is very important to me, and these are the concerns that I have. As long as they get that out there it makes it easier to stay intimate without intercourse. And then to transition into that kind of intimacy again. I think people also need to be open to finding ways to either love their bodies and love each other beyond the whole we can just function sexually. We are sexual beings and that kind of responsiveness is only part of the game."
Because delivery is coming, and that baby is going to be born. Almost all daddies attend the birth of their babies these days. Some men have absolutely no problem watching their baby's mothers give birth to 7lbs of human being and still see them as sexual being later. Others do have a problem with that.  If you think your partner might fit into the latter category, Fulbright has some advice for him...
"Kind of stand by her head. It's great that you're in the room, it's great that your support but most men really can't handle seeing the child come out of the woman and of course that can definitely brand an image in their mind that they are not going to want to remember later when they try to be intimate. I think that is the first thing that couples need to be aware of. The other thing is too her having a c-section or an episiotomy or severe tearing at that time is going to also impact what kind of action they have or more specifically how soon after childbirth they can get busy again. She will take a long time to recover from a c-section or severe tearing."
"Now in most cases your doctor will advise 6 weeks with no intercourse. Definitely listen to your doctor during that time. But that doesn't mean you can't do things like hug, kiss, cuddle, pet each other, use sexual enhancement just basically redefine your sex life at this time as far as what does it time to be fulfilled, stay connected and to feel your love for each other."
Some people worry that having a baby will change their vagina in some essential way that their partner will no longer enjoy sex with them at all. That is silly. There may be some change in tone but you do have some control over the tone of your vagina. Dr. Fulbright stresses again, kegels are great for this.
"Using muscle control exercises can definitely help out with dealing with that satisfaction and actually a couple of the women that we spoke to for this book reported actually having stronger vaginas post birth because they were so good with keeping up with these exercises.  So a lot of times they tend to think that post birth sex is pretty slack and that the vagina needs some conditioning but if a woman is diligent enough in strengthening it it's going to make for better sex."
Kegels involve tightening the muscle you use to stop the flow of urine. Try that then you'll know which muscle to exercise then exercise it any time. No one knows you're doing it and it makes it easier for labor and it makes for better sex.
Some women are so afraid of losing tone in their vagina they opt for an elective c-section. Dr. Fulbright is not a fan of that plan at all.
"I consider that to being a very, I know I am being judgmental here, but I consider that a very superficial reason and a very selfish reason and I think the more couples and women know that they do have power over their pubococcygeus muscle and they just need to keep up that strength training program they don't need to go to these extremes and take the high risk of going through a c-section."
So what will your body be like after baby comes?
"Well it is going to have a lot to do with how you are taking care of it during your pregnancy and if you stay fit, eat well, a lot of women bounce back, a lot of them look better after birth than before because they are more in tune with their bodies, they are taking care of them. A lot of women are breastfeeding and a lot of them are realizing that with a healthy diet and regular breastfeeding for up to a year that actually takes off any weight that they gain and then some."
Okay, there is hope. There really is hope. Weight has always been an issue or me and I did lose weight while nursing. It is hard, for sure, to find time to exercise and body image may be a struggle for you. Your stomach will surely be different, for instance mine is now a map of stretch marks. But you know what? That is okay.
"I remember a woman I interviewed for my dissertation study said that she would see her mother's stretch marks and just be amazed that of what her body went through so that she could have life. And I think if we look at the woman's body in that way, in a lot of ways we go through a World War II of sorts. It is pretty phenomenal and I think it needs to be respected and revered and not seen as something ugly. We just need to change our mentality around that."
And I really have grown to love mine. I love the way they feel under my fingertips. I love the way they look. I love showing them to my baby and talking to her about when she lived in my belly and she loves talking about it too. I'm not a big fan of my mommy apron, that lower belly pooch that can sag a little, particularly after a c-section. I'm used to it now and I found that being a hot mama really has little to do with stretch marks or the apron or the kegels or the weight.  Dr. Fulbright agrees with me.
"Well a lot of this comes down to what makes you feel good. You know what messages are you giving yourself in the mirror. How are you dressing? A lot of it comes down to your physical activity because that does give you energy, that does make you feel better about yourself. I mean even if you don't reclaim your pre-pregnancy body there's still one way that you just felt better, you have more energy and you're healthier overall."
If you have been listening to this entire podcast and you are still saying where is my orgasmic pregnancy? breathe.
"You know I hope that everyone has a really orgasmic, sensual, sexual pregnancy but if that's not what you find to be the case for you don't beat yourself up. Just know that we are all very variable and actually every pregnancy is as well. I've had women say that they felt really sensual and wonderful and sexual with one child and then nothing the next. So it's whatever Mother Nature is going to dish out for you."
And no matter what kind of pregnancy you're having, the kind where your libido hits the stratosphere or the kind where sex sounds about as interesting as 40 weeks of morning sickness, well, you can still be a hot mama.
"From you're expecting to the time you deliver really it's about your attitude, it's about the way you're taking care of yourself you're staying physically active. You know walking, moving, watching how you're eating and dressing sexy. By this I don't mean that you're letting it all hang out necessarily but you're not afraid to show your form. And I think most of it you're allowing yourself to embrace this sensual time that you're allowing yourself to feel sexual and to look at yourself as the beautiful person that you are. This only happens once or a few times in a woman's life and a lot of people are really a passion playground and I think the more we can embrace that the more we can all benefit from this experience."
So go be a passion playground. You're working miracles after all. You're making a baby.
We hope you've enjoyed this Pea in the Podcast: Sex and Your Pregnancy. Please visit our website for more information about our experts, to find links and transcripts and to register to get tailored week by week shows for each week and stage of your pregnancy. It's everything you need to know about your body, your baby and the big changes ahead in your life in your journey to becoming a mommy. For Pea in the Podcast, I'm Bonnie Petrie. Thanks for listening.