Marriage during pregnancy was weird AF. I expected it to be something like a roommate agreement. You know, we share a space and have a mutually beneficial code of conduct. Of course, it was nothing like that and my expectations were wildly unrealistic. Instead, I found myself spending hours a week researching, “Can I [insert typical non-pregnant behavior here] while pregnant” into google and feeling consistently ashamed.
Shame was a key theme of my pregnancy and it was as much a part of my gestation period as the baby itself. It didn’t feel like I could do anything I used to enjoy. The foods I loved were forbidden, the hobbies I had were deemed inappropriate, and I felt guilty about the resulting frustration.
Both of our children were planned but an intentional pregnancy didn’t make letting go of my freedom any less miserable.
Among the long list of things I was advised not to do while pregnant, there was one thing I was particularly uncertain about. I didn’t understand how sex would fit into my new pregnant life. Since everything else I had previously enjoyed was restricted, I expected the same in the bedroom. My fears were exacerbated when we’d tried to partake in sexy time, and it ended in cramps and bleeding.
I felt like choosing to engage in sexual activity was reckless. Cramps meant danger and I didn’t want to put my baby at risk. (I say this while ironically thinking of the pieces of legislation that criminalize miscarriage and abortion. Could engaging in risky sex be enough to find oneself on trial one day?)
I wanted to have sex throughout my pregnancy, but in the second trimester, in particular, my sex drive was exceptionally high. But I was afraid. The risk was terrifying and the shame around sexuality while pregnant was enough to make me want to abstain for life.
Despite how taboo the topic of sex during pregnancy seems to be, we’re making shifts towards having a more sex-positive society for all.
“The relationship between a woman and her sexual self is important for a woman’s long-term health and well-being, yet female sexuality is still muted in society which is affecting our self-development and leads to a pleasure void. So when female sexuality itself is silenced what can we expect of the sexuality of pregnant women? It’s basically non-existent,” Erika Lust, an indie adult filmmaker, told ScaryMommy. Lust, who is also a mother of two, wanted to change the way we talked about pregnancy and sex.
Thank goodness she’s opening up the discussion, because until this point, there have been little if any mainstream discussions around our sex lives while pregnant.
In her new NSFW pregnancy sex documentary, we explore just that — pregnancy sex. We’re given a way into the story from the experiences of adult performer Tiffany Doll and her husband Bruno SX. Hearing about the documentary made me think about the long list of misconceptions related to sex.
Lust talks about the ways pregnancy often marks the end of sexual freedom as well as personal agency.
“For a lot of people, as soon as you become pregnant you become a mother and you’re no longer allowed to have an erotic life,” she told ScaryMommy. “You become a saint! In their eyes, your body is no longer yours, it’s the baby’s. Nothing shows this more than strangers who touch pregnant women’s bumps and offer unsolicited advice for the wellbeing of the baby. Your body becomes public property. When people only view you as a baby maker, it becomes hard for them to see you as a sexual being — unless it’s a fetish or a taboo.”
There are people who think pregnancy is the end of all sexual interest. Meanwhile, there are other folks who think pregnancy, namely the increase in blood flow, is the trigger for sexual obsession. The truth is somewhere in the middle. Each pregnancy is different and you won’t know how pregnancy will impact your sexual interest until you’re in the thick of it.
But we don’t know that because we never talk about it.
I’m expecting Lust to kickstart and bring this conversation to more public spaces.
“Female sexuality is still muted in society, which affects our self-development and leads to a pleasure void. When female sexuality itself is seen as something to be kept quiet, what can we expect of the sexuality of pregnant women? It’s almost non-existent!,” Lust said in a previous interview with Parents.com
She couldn’t be more spot on. Conversations around sex and sexuality are undeniably shaped by cis men’s preferences. The rest of us are excluded from the dialogue and are often barred from expressing our concerns at all.
And when women’s perspective on sex and pregnancy are discussed, it’s from a place of fetishization. Again, it only matters in the context of male enjoyment.
Even though I don’t foresee any more pregnancies in my near future, this documentary is a must-see. I hope that it will give us more tools to explore and discuss the multitude of experiences that we see women have during pregnancy.
I want the conversation on women’s sexuality to see a radical shift. So radical that we make sure we aren’t leaving behind our non-hetero and non-cis counterparts. There’s room for all of us in mainstream space, we just have to scoot over.
The sooner we make these changes, the sooner we will see the parallels between sexuality and other areas of reproductive health.
No one should feel guilty or disgusting googling pregnancy-related sex question. We’re not weird. We’re human. Pregnancy should not be seen as the first of many steps that strip our freedoms on the paths of motherhood.
Sex is normal and we need to understand it in all contexts. Let’s start by studying one orgasm at a time. Lust is doing her part to normalize sex while pregnant through articles, adding more pregnancy-related sex content to her site, XConfessions, regularly.
“I hope that this film can help people who have been or are currently pregnant see that they are absolutely within their right to claim their sexuality and pleasure at this time in their life and enjoy it without feeling any guilt or shame,” Lust informed ScaryMommy.