Living

Sex during pregnancy

My husband and I have just found out we're expecting our first child. Our sex life was great before. How will things change for us in the bedroom now that I'm pregnant?

Sex during pregnancy can be tender and fulfilling for couples. There are a number of factors that will influence what your sex life as a pregnant woman is like. A lot will depend on how you’re feeling physically.

It’s normal for your sex drive to wax and wane throughout your pregnancy. Some women say they could easily live without sex for the whole nine months while others find they’ve got a huge sexual appetite. Many women have told me pregnancy sex is among the best, because they aren’t worrying about birth control and also because it’s easier to orgasm with the increased blood in the pelvic region. You’re about to undergo some dramatic body changes. The size and hue of your genitals might change; they may get larger and darker. And your breasts may dramatically increase in size. If they were sensitive before pregnancy, they’ll probably be more sore to the touch now.

With larger breasts, luminous skin and thick hair, some women feel especially sexy during pregnancy. Your partner’s response to your growing belly may also influence how you feel about your new shape. He may act as if he can’t get enough of your pregnant body or he could shy away from sex because he’s worried that intercourse might hurt you or the baby.

Get in position

Pregnancy is a great time to expand your sexual repertoire by experimenting with new sexual positions to accommodate your growing belly. The six basics are woman on top, man on top, rear entry, side by side, standing, and sitting or kneeling. Keep in mind that intercourse is just one choice at the intimacy buffet. Couples often discover new oral and manual sex techniques during pregnancy. Here’s what might work well for you during different stages:

First trimester

Just about anything goes unless you have a medical condition that precludes certain types of sexual activity. When you engage in oral sex during the first six months—and sometimes into the third trimester of your pregnancy, you may think your partner tastes more metallic because of changes in your perception of tastes.

Second trimester

Now that your tummy is expanding, try positions that allow you to control the depth of penetration and motion, such as sitting on top. Lower yourself onto your partner, either facing him or facing away. Leaning back will change the sensation for both of you. Another good position during this stage is side by side. Lie on your back with your legs over your partner’s hips. He lies on his side under your legs so he can enter your vagina.

Third trimester

Sitting and kneeling are good positions now because you can use your legs to balance your body. For some women, rear entry becomes a staple during the last trimester because you can rest your belly on the bed. But you may find this position too intense at the end of your pregnancy.

If you’re too uncomfortable to have intercourse but you want to stay sexually connected to your partner, it’s time to get creative. Try engaging in more oral and manual stimulation with lubricants to vary the sensation. You can also try the silicone vagina. It’s a 12-centimetre, soft stretchy sleeve with a gently ribbed shaft that resembles the natural ridges of a woman’s vagina. Apply a generous amount of warmed water-based lubricant into the silicone vagina and slip the snug sleeve over your partner’s erect penis. Then move the sleeve up and down while gently rotating it. Silicone vaginas are available at sex toy stores or online at www.comeasyouare.com (look for the Purple Iris) and www.loupaget.com (look for the Pink Elephant).

Lou Paget is a sex educator and the best—selling author of The Big O (Broadway).