With your hormones going haywire during pregnancy — a blessed pregnancy symptoms for some — it could mean that you’re down to get down any time, or maybe you’re not interested in sex at all. Either way is completely normal, but you also may be wondering whether it’s even safe to have sex while you’re pregnant. The good news is that yes, it is. But are certain sex positions better than others during those nine-ish months? Glad you asked.
Before we get going, consider this your friendly reminder that the idea of “sex” is not exclusive to penis or dildo-in-vagina penetration: there are other forms — like anal and oral — that can be pretty great, too. For the purpose of the first part of this article, though, we’re going to focus on positions for vaginal penetrative sex (we’ll get to the other fun stuff later on). So without further ado, here’s our pregnancy sex positions guide, broken down by trimester.
First Trimester — You On Top
For a lot of pregnant people, the first trimester can be rough, between the possible fatigue, nausea, and vomiting. In addition to the mood swings and breast tenderness, you are also experiencing increased blood flow to the pelvis, Dr. Lisa M. Valle, an OB-GYN and medical director of Oasis Women’s Sexual Function Center in Santa Monica, CA tells Scary Mommy. This can have various effects on your sex drive, including increasing genital sensitivity and vaginal lubrication, as well as causing discomfort, she explains.
“Assuming your obstetrician or nurse midwife has not advised against sexual intercourse due to obstetrical or medical indications, vaginal intercourse can normally resume without any special accommodations during this trimester,” Valle explains. “However, it would be advisable to avoid rough play.”
Like being on top? Might as well go for it during your first trimester, before your bump starts growing and may make it more difficult to get in this position further down the line.
If at any point during or after sex you experience heavy spotting or bleeding, you should call your physician immediately.
Second Trimester — Doggy Style & Side-Lying Entry
During the second trimester, your breasts and uterus have grown significantly, and your bump is starting to get noticeable. In general, sex should not be painful, Valle says. Having said that, you are going to want to avoid any sex positions where pressure is applied to your abdomen. “Your partner should not place his/her weight on your belly,” she explains. “The blood supply to the uterus can be decreased if this occurs. This also applies to the third trimester.”
Your best bets for your second semester are side-lying entry or rear entry positions (yes, like doggy style). According to Valle, these are good examples of positions that avoid any abdominal pressure or weight on the belly.
Another thing you want to keep in mind is that your cervix might bleed easily with deep penetration, she explains, so she advises sticking with positions involving shallow thrusting, like having the woman on top, and variations of sitting and standing positions.
Starting at approximately four to five months, Valle recommends avoiding lying flat on your back to prevent blood flow to the uterus and fetus decreasing. This is because “the uterus is quite large at this point and by its sheer weight can place too much pressure on your vessels,” she adds.
Third Trimester — Side-By-Side
By your third trimester, you’ve probably figured out which positions work best for you and your partner (but mostly you, because you’re the pregnant one). Valle says that the same type of positions mentioned for the second trimester can apply to the third trimester as well — like a nice side-by-side position. It’s still important to be careful to avoid lying on your back for the same reasons mentioned above. You may also find that it’s more challenging to find a position that feels comfortable as your body continues to grow and change.
Safe Sex During Pregnancy
In addition to making sure sex is safe for you and your developing fetus, you may also want to take additional precautions in certain situations. For example, if you are not in a mutually monogamous relationship or you start having sex with a new partner, you’re going to want to use a condom, the Mayo Clinic advises. Also, avoid having vaginal, oral, or anal sex with any partner who has an active or recently diagnosed sexually transmitted infection. Contracting an STI during pregnancy can cause complications for both you and your fetus, depending on the type of infection.
Other Types Of Sex During Pregnancy
Whether you’re pregnant or not, it’s a good idea to keep in mind that vaginal penetration sex is not the sexual be-all-end-all and there are plenty of other ways to be intimate and experience pleasure — with or without a partner. For example, though you may think that anal sex may be off the table during pregnancy, Valle says that’s not necessarily the case — you just need to use plenty of lube. And we probably shouldn’t have to tell you this, but if you’re one of the lucky ones who develops pregnancy hemorrhoids, anal is probably not a good idea. However, the American Pregnancy Association notes that you should proceed with caution when it comes to anal sex. This is because certain infections like Giardia (giardiasis) and Group B Streptococcus (GBS) “often colonize the rectum and can be spread to the vaginal tract if vaginal or oral sex follows anal sex, or if there is any touching (hands or genitals) after anal sex.” So if you’re going the anal route, please keep sexual hygiene in mind.
According to Valle, oral sex is safe during pregnancy as well. However, according to the APA, when receiving oral sex, it is important that your partner does not blow any air into your vaginal tract (hey, everyone has their preferences). “A bubble can cause a pressure differential which may burst blood vessels near the surface,” the organization explains. “This may cause vaginal bleeding or more serious effects.”
And as we discussed before, if you’re having sex with a new parter, someone with an STI or aren’t in a mutually monogamous relationship, you’re going to want to use a condom or dental dam to make sure you’re protected.
Lastly, don’t forget about masturbation. You may have other things on your mind while you’re pregnant (or maybe not…) but in general, it’s pretty safe unless you have a high-risk pregnancy, Healthline reports. In fact, having an orgasm — via solo or mutual masturbation — can help relieve tension. Also, it feels really good and may be a good option if penetrative sex with a partner has become uncomfortable.
The bottom line is that the best sex positions during pregnancy are the ones that work and are most comfortable for you, assuming you have a normal, not-high-risk pregnancy. As always, keep safety in mind, when it comes to both the position as well as STI prevention. Also, have fun — it may be harder to find time to be intimate when the baby arrives.
Written by Elizabeth Yuko.