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This Is What Happens If You Have Sex While Pregnant

Your baby will kick more.
PHOTO: istockphoto

We all know how rough and frisky sex can be, and the curious ones among us have wondered if sex is okay while pregnant. It surely looks uncomfortable in our imaginations. Even awkward and painful, and not really very sexy. Here, we break down the top concerns about having sex during pregnancy:

Generally, it’s safe.

Unless your doctor says it isn’t safe, sex—as in, vaginal sex—is fine while you’re pregnant. And you can do it as much as you want, although back pain, weight gain, and not feeling sexy might curb your libido.

Your baby will be all right in your womb. It’s protected by the amniotic fluid in your uterus, the muscles of your uterus, and by the mucus plug, which seals your cervix to keep infections at bay.

Use a condom to be safer.

Sexually transmitted infections can affect your pregnancy and, in turn, your baby’s health. Use a condom if:

  • Your partner has a sexually transmitted infection
  • You or your partner is having sex with other people

Otherwise, going without a condom is fine.

You do have to be careful about oral sex.

Your partner shouldn’t blow into your vagina. An air bubble or two can enter a vein or artery and block it. This is called air embolism, and it can happen if there’s a tear or injury in the vagina, uterus, or placenta. Air embolism can be life-threatening for you, since the air bubbles can go to your brain, heart, or lungs, and cause stroke, heart attack, or respiratory failure. It’s also life-threatening for your baby: If the air bubbles go to your placenta, there can be problems with fetal development.

Air embolism is rather rare, but it’s still not worth risking your life and your baby’s just to get literally blown down there.

If your partner has herpes on his mouth or lips, don’t have oral sex.

Of course, anal sex, too.

Anal sex followed by vaginal sex is not safe, more so when you’re pregnant. Anal bacteria, which can cause infections, can go to the vagina. And some of these infections may lead to chronic diarrhea, resulting in dehydration and malnutrition that’s dangerous for the mother (you) and the fetus.

Similarly, anal sex increases your risk of getting STIs. Some of them, like gonorrhea and chlamydia, can be curable. But the risks are serious on you and your baby. For gonorrhea, you can get pelvic inflammatory disease, which can cause infertility; while your baby will have a premature birth or an eye infection. For chlamydia, you can also get pelvic inflammatory disease, while your baby can get pneumonia, eye infection, or blindness.

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And then there are STIs that aren’t curable (yet). Human papilloma virus (HPV), for instance, can lead to your getting genital cancer. You can get warts in your birth canal, too, causing complications in your delivery. Meanwhile, the baby can get warts in the throat that will need to be removed through surgery.

On the other hand, getting herpes can lead to a miscarriage; your fetus can get herpes too.

When is vaginal sex risky?

As stated earlier, vaginal sex should be okay for you and your baby, unless your doctor says otherwise. Here are some conditions that make sex risky during your term:

  • You have a history of premature birth or labor
  • You have a history of miscarriage
  • Your water has broken
  • You have vaginal bleeding or unexplained discharge
  • You have a uterine or vaginal infection
  • Your pregnancy is unstable

Miscarriage from safe sex shouldn’t be a concern.

Most miscarriages happen in the first trimester, and these are NOT caused by anything the mom has done. Instead, they are caused by genetic problems (i.e., chromosome abnormality) in the unborn baby. No one’s fault.

Miscarriages also happen in the second trimester. These can be caused by the mother’s health conditions:

  • Infections (like HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis)
  • Diabetes
  • Hormone problems
  • Uterine abnormalities
  • Kidney disease

Your baby will probably kick more during or after sex.

Depending on where you are in your term, you might notice that your baby is more active as you go along. Nonetheless, stimulants like exercise and sex will make your baby move more. Meaning, more kicks for you. Don’t worry about them, since they’re normal. (Your baby is always moving in your uterus: he/she kicks, punches, plays with his/her fingers.)

Only be concerned when you can feel the heavy movements continuously for hours or days; your baby might be distressed. Let your doctor know.

Time to experiment with sex positions!

Not for anything wild, but for you to know what’s comfortable for you. You might notice that missionary hurts your back. And doggy style? Forget it; that’s just too uncomfortable. But you might be able to alleviate the discomfort with ample pillow support, or shifting to your side instead.

Remember that sex is best when it’s enjoyed by you and your partner, so take note which positions work well. Your partner is doing the same, so the entire experience is still intimate and personal. It can even be fun if you guys are lighthearted about it. What’s important is for you to be open and honest about what feels good, what doesn’t, and if you’re in the mood.

Orgasms can be bittersweet.

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Orgasms are safe if your doctor says that it’s safe for you to have sex (that is, you have a low-risk pregnancy). However, some women might feel some contractions or cramping in their uterus after an orgasm—kind of like a menstrual cramp. These are “false” labor pains called Braxton Hicks contractions—“false,” because you’re not actually going into labor. The feeling should disappear soon enough.

In spite of the painful contractions that might arise, it goes without saying that orgasms do give you a lot of pleasure, and even some relief from the inconveniences and aches during your term.

Stephanie blogs about art on Catchinglight.org. Follow her on Instagram.