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Health & Pregnancy

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Sex During and After Pregnancy

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Pregnancy Sex continued...

During pregnancy, it's normal for sexual desire to come and go as your body changes. You may feel self-conscious as your belly grows. Or you may feel sexier with larger, fuller breasts.

Tell your partner what you're feeling and what works. You may need to play with positions, especially later in pregnancy, to find one that's both comfortable and stimulating for you.

Avoid lying flat on your back in the "missionary position" for sex after the fourth month of pregnancy. That way, you can avoid the weight of the growing baby constricting major blood vessels.

Another way to make sex more comfortable is to try lying sideways together. Or you might try positioning yourself upright or sitting on top.

As always, if you're not absolutely sure about your partner's sexual history, use condoms. Pregnancy doesn't protect against sexually transmitted infections -- such as HIV, herpes, genital warts, or chlamydia -- and those infections can affect your baby.

Sex After Pregnancy

The first six weeks after delivery are called the postpartum period. Sex during this time may be the last thing on your mind. Reasons your desire for sex may decrease are:

  • Healing from an episiotomy (incision during vaginal delivery)
  • Healing from abdominal incisions after cesarean birth
  • Normal postpartum bleeding, common for four to six weeks after birth
  • Fatigue after pregnancy and the birthing process
  • Demands of your newborn (increased if you had twins or triplets)
  • Changing hormone levels
  • Sore breasts from breastfeeding
  • Emotional issues, such as postpartum blues, anxiety over parenting, or relationship issues with the father

Intercourse is generally safe after any incisions have fully healed and you feel the delicate tissues of your vagina have healed. This healing usually takes several weeks. You can ask your doctor what she recommends. Most doctors will say wait at least 6 weeks after delivery before intercourse. Equally important is feeling emotionally ready, physically comfortable, and relaxed.

For both you and your partner, patience is a virtue. Given the realities and stresses of early parenthood, it can take up to a year for a couple's normal sex life to return in full bloom.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Kecia Gaither, MD, MPH on September 20, 2014
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