Safest Sex Positions for Pregnant Women

April 18th 2016

Once you become pregnant, sexual intercourse can feel like dangerous territory, as some people worry that sex during pregnancy could harm the baby. This fear was hilariously addressed in the 2007 comedy "Knocked Up." But the Mayo Clinic reassures you that sexual activity will not hurt your baby during a normal pregnancy.

"Pregnant women can have vaginal sex without much restrictions" if the pregnancy has no complications, Aparna Sridhar, M.D., an assistant professor in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, told ATTN: via email.

"First trimester is usually associated with symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, breast tenderness, and extreme fatigue, which can alter sexual drive," Sridhar told ATTN:. "Unless women are experiencing bleeding in this trimester, we usually advise women to have sex when they feel like having it. During second and third trimester of pregnancy, weight gain and back pain caused by lumbar strain and other pregnancy-related discomforts can alter sexual frequency."

Certain positions feel better than others when you're pregnant. Here are some safe and comfortable sex positions for pregnant women, according to research.

1. Woman on top

"Woman on top is a great position, because it keeps weight off your belly while at the same time allowing you to control the depth of penetration," SheKnows writer and stay-at-home mom Naomi de la Torre wrote in 2012. "This is also a great position to show off your ginormous pregnant hooters to an adoring audience."

There isn't any one single sexual position that is better than others during pregnancy, as Sridhar explained to ATTN:. But, she added, lying on your back might not feel very good during that time.

A 27-year-old new mother who spoke to ATTN: under the condition of anonymity for professional and personal reasons said that the woman-on-top position was harder for her to appreciate once she developed a belly during her pregnancy.

"Sex is pretty much the same, unless the doctor tells you you can't do it for medical reasons," she told ATTN:. "Once you start to get the belly, you can't really do missionary or girl on top, because you feel like a giant hippo."

Once her stomach became unwieldy, she and her husband mostly just had sex from behind, she said.

2. Sex from behind

The pregnancy website What to Expect recommended this position because it gives your partner sexual access without getting in the way of your stomach.

"There are plenty of ways to play with this position, a favorite during pregnancy, because it allows him access without having to maneuver around your belly," the site said.

The 27-year-old new mom told ATTN: that sex from behind, also known as "doggy style," was the easiest for her because her belly got in the way during sex. "You just have to be creative and have fun with it, because sometimes it hurts or causes contractions when you orgasm," she said. "Which is normal."

Sridhar confirmed that orgasms may create contractions:

"In some women, orgasms can cause uterine contractions, and semen contains prostaglandins, which can theoretically trigger cervical ripening and contractions (although [there's] no scientific evidence to prove this). Some obstetricians instruct women [at] risk of preterm labor [to] avoid having sexual activity."

The pregnancy website The Bump endorsed the from-behind position in a piece about sex during third-trimester pregnancy, with a caveat:

"Support yourself on all fours (on the bed or floor) as your partner enters from behind. Wonderful way to get some g-spot stimulation, but, again, beware of major thrusting."

3. Sideways

"Having your husband on top demands increasingly creative gymnastics as your tummy swells," a BabyCenter piece from January 2015 said. "But lying partly sideways allows your husband to keep most of his weight off your uterus."

What to Expect reported that sideways sex — which can be face-to-face or face-to-back — is often considered one of the most comfortable sex positions for partners during pregnancy.

"Both options keep you off your back, plus you won’t have to worry about holding up the weight of your belly (and you won’t feel like your partner has to support your weight either!)," the site said. "Since you’ll both be able to lie down, you can get busy in a slow, relaxed way."

Communicating with your doctor about pregnancy sex

In some situations, doctors advise against sex during pregnancy. Doctors may restrict sex for pregnant patients at risk of preterm labor or vaginal bleeding, who have a history of miscarriages, or who have been diagnosed with incompetent cervix or placenta previa, according to an article on What to Expect.

Otherwise, sex shouldn't pose any danger to you.

"In the majority of cases, pregnancy sex is a safe, fun way for you and your partner to bond — and if it does pose specific risks for your pregnancy, you can count on your practitioner to let you know," What to Expect said.

After giving birth, Sridhar recommended taking a few weeks off of sex to allow your body to heal:

"After vaginal delivery or cesarean sections, it is ideal to let your body heal for 4-6 weeks. This is usually the time required for [the] uterus to get back to its normal size and bleeding to stop completely. When you are ready to have sex, [the] couple should take it slow."

RELATED: The Cost of Childbirth Varies Widely in the U.S.

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