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Chelsea at Crunch Gym

Forty Weeks of Fitness!

Chelsea, our pregnancy fitness expert, is a certified personal trainer at Crunch gym in San Francisco, California. She gave birth to her daughter, Madeira Re, in July 2006. Read more

Sex and Pregnancy

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By the time you've reached your third trimester, your pregnant body is dramatically different from your pre-pregnancy shape. Some women glory in their body's new curves and fullness, but others don't feel quite comfortable with it. How you perceive your body can have a big impact on how much you crave and enjoy sex in these months. Any back pain and a decreased energy level can also dampen your sex drive. However, most men go nuts about their partner's pregnant body and love its exaggerated femininity, and many couples enjoy experimenting with new positions as your belly grows and gets in the way. Popular options include spooning with your partner behind you, on your hands and knees, you on top, or lying on your side with one knee pulled up.

As your due date nears, and if your baby's head has moved deep within your pelvis, you may experience a bit of pain or spotting during sex. This is nothing to worry about and easy to avoid with shallow penetration or rear entry.

You may notice that after sex you're not satisfied or relieved of sexual tension, even though you reached orgasm. This is because of the constant engorgement of your vagina and clitoris, which make it easier for you to reach orgasm, but harder to reach a feeling of satisfaction. During an orgasm, you may notice that your uterus goes into spasms, and closer to your due date, you may feel contractions for about half an hour after sex. There's no need to worry about causing pre-term labor. Until your cervix is ready, you won't go into labor. Sex has been credited, however, with jump-starting labor once your body is ready, and it's thought that some women are especially sensitive to the prostagladins in semen, which can also cause the uterus to contract.

Most obstetricians advise their patients to wait until six weeks after delivery to resume sexual intercourse. This allows your genital tissues to heal completely from the rigors of delivery and avoids infection during the healing process. But if you don't have any tears, manual or oral stimulation of the clitoris is fine anytime after birth. But some women just aren't interested. They find that their sex drive is in neutral, either because they are just too tired and overwhelmed by new motherhood, the healing process is not yet complete, or because they fear pain, especially if their genital tissues experienced trauma during labor or delivery. The best way to overcome the fear of pain is to take control and gently guide your partner through sex.

Breastfeeding has also been known to dampen sexual desire. It affects your hormone levels, so if you find that your period is slow to return, you may also find that your libido is slow to resurface. Some couples find breast leakage during sex awkward, and some women find that all the breastfeeding they are doing satisfies their need for touch and intimacy, and they aren't much interested in sex. Of course, the exhaustion associated with being a new parent can also kill your sex drive. Caring for a new baby claims so much of the time and energy you used to have for being together as a couple, sexually and romantically. But, take heart! Soon, you'll have the energy and the interest, and many couples find that sex after birth is better than ever before.

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