Month four

Let’s talk about sex

Your Pregnancy - - Contents -

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.


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.”


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.”


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.


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.


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