You're puking, your tummy is bloating, and your back hurts... sexy is probably not the first word you'd choose to describe pregnancy. While it might be tempting for you or your partner, you should consider not putting sex on hold for the next 9 months plus 2 months (don't forget about postpartum!). Sex is good for mom, for dad, and even has benefits for baby.
Sex is safe for most pregnant moms
Unless your doctor or midwife has instructed you not to, it is perfectly safe to have sex during all stages of pregnancy, even in labor as long as your water hasn't broken. YES some couples have sex when mom is in labor, and there are benefits to that as well.
It's important to remember to take it slow. Pregnancy causes all kinds of hormonal shifts, some women want more sex and some want less. Dryness, an extra sensitive cervix, and post sex spotting are all possible reasons to take things slow. Here are 9 reasons (one for every month!) to make time for sex in pregnancy. Remember moms, do what feels right for you. Partners, please respect mom's comfort levels.
9 Benefits to Sex in Pregnancy
1. Better Sleep
Every stage of pregnancy can affect mom's sleep. Frequent bathroom trips can begin in the first trimester by the third trimester mom's well rounded tummy can make sleep uncomfortable. Some women experience hormone induced insomnia. Sex can be a solution to sleep issues because immediately after orgasm prolactin is released, which helps mom feel relaxed and sleepy. A better night's sleep means a more energized mama in the morning!
2. Fewer Aches
Many pregnant women long to climb into bed all day, only to find they can't get comfortable once they get there. A quickly growing uterus can put unique strains on the body which sometimes cause pain. Sex, however, can block pain! Oxytocin, aka the "love hormone," is released during orgasm and has pain blocking and pain tolerance rising qualities. We will talk more about oxytocin later!
3. Improved Immune System
Everyone is talking about how you can boost your immune system. Research has shown people who have sex often are sick less. Pregnant women already have a suppressed immune system. Sex boosts antibodies and may help you ward off that cold... which is really the last think you need when awaiting the arrival of your little one!
4. Stronger Pelvic Floor (Less Likely to Pee on the Floor)
Many pregnant women have been there, you sneeze, laugh, someone surprises you... and you pee unexpectedly. Your pelvic floor is like a trampoline holding up all the organs in your pelvis and helps with bladder control. There are two ways in which sex can strengthen your pelvic floor: partner kegels or "sexercise" and orgasm. Kegels are when you contract the pelvic floor muscles, you can locate these muscles by stopping the flow of urine. Partner kegels can be done during intercourse. Practice kegels on your own and then check in periodically with your partner and find out if you are getting stronger. Also, orgasm causes contractions in these muscles, you get a workout that actually IS fun!
5. Lowers Blood Pressure
Your diet is important in helping to maintain a healthy blood pressure in pregnancy, but sex has also been shown to be effective in lowering systolic blood pressure. Keeping your blood pressure in a healthy range can mean keeping you and baby healthy and keeping your pregnancy low risk, avoiding an induction or even a c-section.
6. Boosts Mood
Sometimes pregnancy is hard. Being tired and uncomfortable can take a toll on our overall mood. Orgasm can help boost your mood by releasing endorphins which are good for mom and baby! Oxytocin also fosters attachment and closeness between mom and dad, making for a happier relationship. Did you know orgasms did so many cool things?
7. Less Stress
Pregnancy should be a beautiful time in a couple's life, but there are times where it can be a source of stress. Again, orgasms can be a source of relief! Oxytocin and endorphins activate pleasure centers in the brain that can reduce anxiety and even depression.
8. Start or Progress Labor
Semen contains prostaglandins which help soften and dilate the cervix, and orgasm will give you a big rush of oxytocin which is the hormone that creates contractions that will bring baby down and into this world. If your body is ready, sex can encourage labor to begin! Once in labor, sometimes the closeness or working together through contractions and the high levels of oxytocin can actually be arousing. As long as mom's water hasn't broken, it is completely safe, and actually beneficial to have sex in labor. Most couples don't talk about it because it can sound weird, but I personally know quite a few couples who have had sex in early and active labor, which can actually further progress labor and bring baby into the world sooner.
9. Faster Recovery
By keeping her pelvic floor strong in pregnancy, after baby's birth her muscles will recover much quicker. A strong pelvic floor may have made baby's delivery easier, and mom would have been less likely to tear, making for a recovery with much less pain.
Be sure to check with your care provider to makes sure sex is safe in your pregnancy. If it is, you have 9 reasons to not kiss intimacy goodbye.
I just finished watching the birth documentary Orgasmic Birth, again. I watched it last night and again today, and I actually have it on again right now. I am definitely admitting to wrongfully judging this book by its cover. I wonder how may women might have passed this film up based on its title? Though I've known about it for years, if it didn't show up on my Birth Boot Camp curriculum I'm not sure if I ever would have bothered with it. I'm not a particularly modest person, not many topics make me blush, but watching girls moan and orgasm their way through birth? Not really interested, give me the science of birth, not the bizarre fringe behaviors.
Eric and I fully giggled through the beginning birth montage, though I would often stop us and remind him that this is 100% normal, the hormones (oxytocin & endorphins) that are in play during sex are also present, at its highest amounts a woman will ever experience, during natural childbirth. These women aren't doing anything perverted, they are just allowing their bodies to function as they were designed and are likely as surprised by what is happening as we are! I also reminded him that they only sound like they are having sex, we actually did have sex while I was in active labor, so turn down the judgement.
Not long in, the experts (doctors, midwives, and representatives from health organizations) are sharing information on the normal mechanics of birth and how birth is approached by our society, and how the latter can negative affect the former. I've watched every birth documentary I could get my hands on the last couple years and they all do about the same thing, but somehow this film was able to shake the Michael Moore style journalism that some of the other films have employed and present the problems in a way that is fair and factual. We see both home births and a variety of hospital births. The flaws of the hospital births are not exaggerated, actually, I really loved what they had to say about providers in a hospital setting:
"Women choose their care provider and want to trust them, and there are many wonderful doctors, nurses, midwives in hospitals and they are providing care to women and babies because they really care about them. But often what happens is the institutional policies and practices override what we really know to be good and safe and supportive of mothers and babies." - Maureen Corry, executive director, Childbirth Connection
Obstetricians are not evil (ok some are). They are trained to do a very specific and essential job in our society. We need them when a problem arises, however normal labor is not a problem.
It's not long before we are back to viewing women birthing in a very sexual way, but the excellent experts have given the film enough credibility that the giggles are gone and I'm taking notes.
"If you look at what the media does with birth, particularly shows like ER, women come screaming into the ER as if having a baby is the biggest disaster on Earth and that is imprinted on generations of people now." - Christiane Northrup, MD, FACOG
Why are we so uncomfortable with a woman birthing in a way where she seems to be enjoying what is happening, but feel at ease by a woman who is detached, in pain, crying, screaming, or angry? It's simply what we are taught is acceptable behavior and it's far from our design. I'm sure many women will back up the claims that birth has to be painful because theirs was, and cannot imagine how it could be anything different, or at least for them.
"If you go to an average American hospital today to have your baby, the odds are that you will have a normal baby and that you will be ok yourself, but you will not have normal birth... no." Marsden Wagner, World Health Organization
I say this to friends and family all. the. time. If you choose birth interventions you may experience a birth that was not meant for you, and you may miss a birth that was meant for you. Talking to women who insist birth is awful and painful is a slippery slope. It is never my intention to minimize or discredit a woman's birth experience, many women need to feel like their suffering was necessary and I definitely think every experience has value, but what many women experience is not what birth was designed to be, whether you feel that it's God or Mother Nature that holds the blue prints. While no two births will follow the same script, there are over all patterns and labor behaviors that most women will share. The rhythm of contractions, the progressions your body must make, the sensation differences from stage one, two, and three, cause women to react in a similar way. Some women may be very quiet and calm through labor, some are much more vocal but I don't think many women have made it through natural childbirth without some vocalizations.
"If you listen to a woman who is being cared for properly and has been well prepared for birth, she sounds like she is having great sex." - Ina May Gaskin
Eric wrinkled his nose at the women moaning through contractions and I reminded him of what I was like towards the end of labor, and of when he leaned over and said that I was kinda turning him on. At the time I responded by laughing at him because it was funny, and totally understandable! You have to let go of your Puritan views on sex to have great sex and you have to do the same to have a great birth (no offense Puritans, I'm actually sure you birthed better than we do).
The point of this film was not to showcase a bunch of freak show moms who orgasim during birth... actually, only one mother was shown having an "orgasmic birth" in that sense. The idea is to teach mothers how to have a normal, healthy, positive birth. What is undeniably necessary to achieve this is to be open, to let go, to release your body to its design and so much of that mimics what we all obviously know a little about because we've gotten ourselves to pregnancy, and that's sex. Comfortable or not with the comparison, it's extremely accurate, powerful, enlightening, and hopefully freeing to some women who are terrified of birth. I want women to feel good about birth, I wish I could send a copy of this to every woman I know but instead I'll just have to post... this movie is awesome, watch it.
"I know that when a woman births on her own power, and finds her postures, and her rhythms, and her ecstasy in birth that she is a changed woman, and she is a fierce mother." - Elizabeth Davis, CPM, Co-Director National Midwifery Institute, Inc
Originally posted from my personal blog: In Pink Ink
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