Let’s talk about sex
SEX IS PROBABLY what got you into all this, right? Then it may come as a surprise that what you know about the birds and the bees gets turned on its head for this phase of your life. But it’s not all doom and gloom – we’ve got the scoop you need on the next nine months of lovin’ to make sure it’s as fun and comfortable as possible.
SHIFTS IN LIBIDO
The same hormones that help your body grow a human cause many changes in the libido department. You’re also going through physical and emotional changes. These can leave you feeling more in the mood than usual, or even a lot less. And that’s okay. “Hormones play a big role in sexuality – and are affected differently in every pregnant woman. In some the dial gets turned up, in others down.” “Body changes and sheer fatigue may also lead to lack of interest in sex. This is all perfectly normal,” says Henny de Beer, clinical midwife specialist at Origin Family-Centred Maternity Hospital and partner in the Grove De Beer Midwife Practice. “Your feelings around sex during pregnancy may be erratic rather than erotic. It is important that you and your partner talk about this to ensure mutual understanding. Keeping a sense of humour and maintaining moments of togetherness may just lead to some inspiration.”
HOT TIPS FOR THE TRIMESTERS
It’s not just your body that changes as pregnancy progresses – your libido (and hormones) fluctuate throughout. This means that each trimester brings with it unique challenges, and some very good pros.
“In the early weeks of pregnancy, sex may be the last thing on your mind,” says certified sexologist and psychotherapist Dr Elmari Craig. “Pregnancy symptoms, like morning sickness and fatigue, are common in the first trimester. Although your baby is still just a tiny little thing, his presence causes truly dramatic changes in your body. After all, breast tenderness, nausea and fatigue are real passion killers!” But, as you cruise toward the later part of the trimester, you may find yourself feeling sexier. “In this trimester, oestrogen and progesterone levels rise and contribute to a drop-off in libido. Around week 10, these increased hormone levels will decline. At that point, fatigue and nausea usually start to improve, which can assist in bringing about an increase in libido, as energy levels start to increase,” explains Henny.
Often referred to as the honeymoon phase of pregnancy, this trimester will have you feeling all kinds of good. Henny says that increased vaginal lubrication and a hypersensitive clitoris due to increased genital blood flow bring you extra pleasure now. This, says Dr Craig, is the scientific explanation for the “awesome pregnancy orgasm”. In fact, her advice to dads is to take advantage of this passionate phase by planning a romantic getaway.
As you’re steaming towards your due date, you can expect another decrease in libido. “Fatigue and the strain of extra weight probably contribute to this,” says Henny. And if you do happen to feel like doing the deed, that growing belly can get in the way. “You will need to experiment with different positions to find what’s most comfortable for you. As your belly grows, the missionary position will become impractical. Likewise, a position where the woman is lying on her back is also not advised in advanced pregnancy. The weight of the uterus compresses the inferior vena cava, minimising blood (and oxygen flow) to the baby, which can also leave you feeling really dizzy,” says Dr Craig. “Many couples prefer the ‘spoon’ position during late pregnancy, where both partners lie on their sides, with the man behind the woman so her bump doesn’t get in the way. You can experiment with different variations of rear-entry, side-by-side and sitting positions. Don’t forget sensual or erotic massage, oral sex and manual stimulation. These are wonderful alternatives to sexual penetration. With a bit of improvisation and an open mind you can still have lots of fun together.”
WHEN YOU SHOULDN’T
Both Dr Craig and Henny agree that sex in a healthy pregnancy is absolutely safe. If your pregnancy is high-risk, though, your gynae may advise you to lay off the loving – in which case you should listen. “Early pregnancy bleeding should be considered high risk and abstinence should be encouraged during this time. In a high-risk pregnancy, when there are already risks like a low-lying placenta or even premature rupture of membranes, it is advisable not to engage in sex as it can lead to bleeding or increase risk of infection in the case of placenta praevia or premature rupture of membranes,” advises Henny.
HAVE SOME FUN!
Try to see this phase in your life as a way to cement the bonds of love and intimacy between you and your partner. Yes, it’s going to be different, but that also means a lot more opportunities for exploring your individual desires and finding new ways of doing things. As with most things in a relationship, communication is key. Talk to each other about your wants and needs, be open about things, and see how you can take your relationship to new sensual heights.
KEEPING A SENSE OF HUMOUR AND MAINTAINING MOMENTS OF TOGETHERNESS LEAD TO SOME INSPIRATION