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Sexual intimacy is so important to relationships; thus, it is normal to be concerned how becoming pregnant or having a baby may impact your sex life. Becoming pregnant and having a baby bring a range of both physical and emotional changes, meaning it is normal for a couple’s sexual intimacy to also change.

This blog will explore sex during pregnancy and during the postpartum period to try remove any stigma and provide valuable considerations for couples going through these challenges. 

1. Sex during pregnancy

Pregnancy brings many physical changes that can impact your sexual intimacy. Hormonal fluctuations, increased blood flow and breast tenderness may make sexual intimacy the last thing that you feel like doing. Although, these changes may not negatively impact all women and some women actually find that the hormones of pregnancy give them an increased libido. 

It is important not to compare your situation and to understand that everyone is different.

2. Is sex safe during pregnancy?

In a pregnancy without medical concerns or complications, sex is safe. It is always important to chat with your healthcare provider during your pregnancy to ensure there are no concerns with you continuing sexual intercourse.

It is important to remember that after 28 weeks of pregnancy, it is not recommended to lie flat on your back for long periods of time as this can reduce blood flow [1] through the placenta. Therefore, it may not be a good idea for you to be lying flat on your back during sexual intercourse and you may need to try another position such as side lying.

3. When should you avoid sex during pregnancy?

Here are some common situations where sexual activity may be advised against during pregnancy:

  • High-risk pregnancy: If you have a high-risk pregnancy due to factors such as placenta praevia or preterm labour.
  • Unexplained vaginal bleeding: If you experience unexplained vaginal bleeding during pregnancy, it is important to seek medical attention.
  • Ruptured membranes: If your water breaks or there is a rupture in the amniotic sac, sexual activity is discouraged to prevent the risk of infection.
  • Shortened cervix: In some cases, a woman may have a shortened cervix that may lead to premature birth. In such situations, your healthcare provider may recommend avoiding sexual intercourse.

4. What can you do to help increase libido during pregnancy?

Communication and understanding are paramount to intimacy during pregnancy. It is essential that both partners discuss their feelings, desires and concerns openly and honestly. Understanding each other’s needs and expectations can help strengthen the emotional connection and reduce any pressures around sexual intimacy.

Experiment together with your partner. This may mean exploring intimacy in other ways, rather than just sex or spicing things up through date nights. As your belly grows you may have to experiment with different positions to make sexual intimacy more comfortable and enjoyable. You may also like to use pillows to help you find a comfortable position.  

5. Sex during the postpartum period

Returning to sex after having a baby can be daunting and there are a few factors that may influence your decision of when you should return to sexual intimacy. Firstly, when the placenta is delivered a dinner plate size wound is left behind that needs to heal. This can take around 6-8 weeks to fully heal and for you to stop bleeding. It is important that you try to wait until this wound is fully healed to reduce the risk of infections.

The next thing to consider is perineal tears or a caesarean wound. Regardless, of which way you give birth you may be left with stitches and a wound that needs healing. You want to make sure that these wounds have healed to reduce the risk of infection, but more importantly so that you aren’t in pain in this area. This may mean seeing a women’s health physiotherapist before resumption of sexual activity to check for healing and help reduce any discomforts. In addition, wearing compression shorts or tights from TheRY can help support your body with healing and thus help you feel more confident and ready for sexual intimacy when the time comes.

Furthermore, during the postpartum period women undertake one of the largest emotional changes of their lives. Meaning that you may be mentally and physically exhausted from caring and worrying about your little baby, leaving no energy left for sexual activity. Engaging in intimacy that is non-sexual such as cuddling, kissing and massages can help to improve your emotional connection and intimacy until you feel ready to return to sexual intimacy. 

As with building your emotional connection slowly after birth, it is important to keep a continuous line of communication open. Having open communication with your partner will help you to stay on the same page and reduce disagreements and resentments. Allowing you both to understand and be supportive of each other, thus enabling opportunities for sexual intimacy to arise.

Last but not least, if you are breastfeeding the hormone oestrogen can impact the vagina and cause dryness. This may mean that sexual intercourse is uncomfortable without the use of lubricants. It is important to know that this is normal and that there is nothing wrong with you at all. 

The most important thing to consider when discussing sexual activity during pregnancy or resumption of sexual intimacy after birth is that it is a very individual decision and there is no timeframe for when you have to return to sex. Don’t go back to sexual intercourse until both you and your partner feel fully ready and when you feel like your body has healed. Everyone’s journey is unique, and it is important not to compare your situation to anyone else’s. 



1. Stillbirth Centre of Research Excellence. 'Going to sleep on your side from 28 weeks'.
2.  O’Malley, D., Higgins, A., Begley, C. et al. Prevalence of and risk factors associated with sexual health issues in primiparous women at 6 and 12 months postpartum; a longitudinal prospective cohort study (the MAMMI study). BMC Pregnancy Childbirth18, 196 (2018).
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