Between your raging hormones, morning sickness, and your ever-expanding waistline, sex might be the last thing on your mind when you’re pregnant.
Although vegging out in front of the TV is looking pretty good, having sex can do wonders for your health, your pregnancy and your relationship.
Here are nine reasons why pregnancy sex is not only healthy, but why it might be even better than before.
- An easier labor and recovery
Having an orgasm increases the contractions in your pelvic floor, which help to strengthen the muscles you’ll need for labor and after delivery.
“Once you’ve pushed your baby through those muscles, they’ll have an easier time strengthening up,” said Jeanne Faulkner, a registered nurse in Portland, Oregon, and author of “Common Sense Pregnancy: Navigating a Healthy Pregnancy and Birth for Mother and Baby.”
- Less bathroom breaks
Feel like you always have to pee? Frequent trips to the bathroom, even leaking when you sneeze or laugh can happen when you’re pregnant. Plus, as your baby gets bigger and presses on your bladder, it can be even more uncomfortable. The good news is that the same muscles that you’ll be strengthening for your labor can also help with the flow of urine, said Tammy Nelson, PhD, author of “Getting the Sex You Want.”
- Complication prevention
According to a Danish study , frequent sex may help prevent pre-eclampsia. Researchers believe it’s because of a protein found in sperm that can regulate the body’s immune system. Yet because the cause of preeclampsia is unknown, it’s important to keep your prenatal visits and talk to your doctor about your risk.
- Lowered blood pressure
Although your blood pressure may be lower right after having sex, it’s only temporary so the cure isn’t sex all the time, Faulkner said. Since high-blood pressure can be serious for both you and your baby, it’s important to work with your doctor on ways to prevent or control your blood pressure.
- Better orgasms
Since your body’s nerve endings are more sensitive, your nipples and clitoris are engorged, and there’s more estrogen drawing blood flow to your pelvis, it’s usually easier to achieve orgasm and they’re also longer and stronger, Nelson said. Plus, women who had trouble having an orgasm prior to pregnancy may now find they no longer do.
- Improved self-esteem
With all the changes that happen during pregnancy, it can feel that your body is no longer your own. Yet having sex can help restore your body confidence and positive feelings about yourself.
“For a lot of women, it’s a time in life where [sex] is a really important part of who they are, their relationship and how they feel,” Faulkner said.
- Stress reduction
Although pregnancy is usually a happy time, it’s normal to worry about things like work, finances and how your life will change after your baby is born. Oxytocin, the love hormone that your body releases when you have an orgasm, can help to negate some of that stress and also help you sleep better.
- Improved connections
Having frequent sex now will help strengthen the intimate relationship and bond you have with your partner and establish a healthy habit for the future.
“It’s important to connect with your partner now while you have time because you’re going to need that connection once the baby is born,” Nelson said.
- Preparation for labor
If you’re full-term or past your due date, having sex won’t put you into labor, but it can help your body prepare because semen contains prostaglandins which can help ripen the cervix, Faulkner said.
Is sperm safe for a pregnant woman?
Sperm is typically considered safe for pregnant women and babies. That said, check with your doctor if you have any questions about the overall safety of sex due to any risk factors associated with your pregnancy.
Not only is sperm safe, but there may be some benefits to having sex and contact with sperm before and during pregnancy:
Sperm and vaginal sex can help induce labor when the time comes. Oxytocin, one of the key hormones involved in progressing labor, is released during sex, and orgasms mimic contractions. Also, the prostaglandins in sperm can help ripen the cervix. (But don’t worry — having sex while pregnant won’t cause early labor in low risk pregnancies.)
Mood boosts and increased cardiovascular blood flow are common benefits to pregnant women who have sex, and these can be passed along to baby as well.
One recent reviewTrusted Source associated pre-pregnancy exposure to a specific man’s sperm (like that of a long-term live-in partner or spouse) to a lower risk of preeclampsia among first-time mothers.
If you decide to have sex during pregnancy, one thing to keep in mind is that sexually transmitted infections (STI) can still be passed while pregnant, so appropriate protection should be taken.
Protection from infection is particularly important during pregnancy, as any resulting pelvic inflammation can lead to early labor, miscarriage, or other health complications for both mom and baby.