During pregnancy, a lot can change in the sheets.
After all, the missionary position gets a whole lot more complicated when there’s a baby-sized belly in the way.
As the pregnant partner, your body goes through a great deal of change. While that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy pregnancy sex, there are a few expert-approved pregnancy sex positions that are known to please even the fussiest bumps, and that you’ll want to pull into your repertoire. That includes non-penetrative sex, because you should lean into whatever makes you feel the most comfortable right now.
Sex is one of those notoriously taboo topics that we tend to just fumble through (literally) so we’ve put together a guide to all things pregnancy sex. From the perks to the best positions and the questions you’re too afraid to ask, but desperate to have answered.
Benefits of sex during pregnancy
As long as you and your partner are feeling up to it, sex actually offers a whole heap of benefits during pregnancy. Some of these perks include:
Keeps you fit: sex sure knows how to burn calories, in fact one half hour session can burn 50 calories.
Improves sleep: it brings much needed relaxation amidst a highly exhausting time.
Eases discomfort: orgasms help release the much-loved oxytocin hormone, which bolsters your pain tolerance. This helps take the edge off pregnancy-related pains.
Builds intimacy: pregnancy brings on a lot of busyness, and sex is a pleasurable way to make sure you maintain intimacy with your partner through the rush of this chapter.
Makes delivery and recovery easier: the contractions of your pelvic muscles during an orgasm helps to strengthen them, which could make birth move along quicker and support a quicker post-birth recovery.
It’s worth noting that all these benefits apply to non-penetrative sex as well, if that’s more up your ally right now.
What to expect from sex during pregnancy
You’ll quickly realise that sex feels pretty different in this era. Those crazy hormones are paying off with better orgasms and extra blood flow to your genitals. But what got your gears going before might not hit the same now that you’re adjusting to this different body.
You might need to account for sore breasts and nausea, plus mild stomach cramps (which are perfectly normal). Experiment around with positions so you can discover what makes you feel the most comfortable.
Best sex positions during pregnancy
Speaking of, you might be open to trialling some different sex positions than you’re used to. This gives you an exciting opportunity to play around a little and freshen up intimacy with your partner. If you’re feeling a bit stuck, here are some tried and tested sex positions that put you first and are best for pregnancy on both a comfort and pleasure level (because you deserve to feel good too).
You on top
Best for: First trimester and second trimester
Pregnant or not, if you like being in control under the sheets, this sex position is for you. You can go at whatever pace you want, find the angles that feel best, and choose how deep (or shallow) the penetration goes. Pregnancy sex is often easier in a sex position where you can control penetration, especially as you figure out what your feel comfortable doing.
And with a 2010 study reporting higher sexual satisfaction for pregnant women who adopt the ‘on top’ position, pleasure won’t be an issue either. The best pregnancy sex positions are ones that make you feel just as good (if not better) as sex before pregnancy.
How to: Get your partner to lie down on their back, jump on top of them and… let the fun begin!
Best for: First trimester and second trimester
Doggy style is one of the best sex positions during pregnancy for keeping pressure off your belly weight and bladder. As a rear entry sex position, it allows you to experiment with deeper penetration if you’re up for it (a water-based lubricant like Kin’s can come in handy here) and for extra pleasure, your partner can use their hand at the same time to stimulate your clitoris.
By the third trimester, you may find it a bit difficult to balance on all fours during pregnancy sex, given the extra weight around your belly.
Placing a few pillows under your bump can help; otherwise, there are plenty of other sex positions you can try in the later stages of pregnancy.
How to: Go on all fours for this sex position as your partner enters you from behind.
Side by side
Best for: Second trimester and third trimester
Having your belly stretch as a tiny human grows inside of you can be uncomfortable enough as is. The last thing you need is extra pressure on your bump. That’s why side-by-side sex is high on our list of best sex positions during pregnancy – because your belly is out of the way.
There are two ways you can go about it: facing each other (at an angle) or spooning.
The first one allows for a little extra intimacy – and what’s better than looking into your special someone’s eyes as you’re making love? The second option, spooning, makes it harder to achieve deep penetration in this pregnancy sex position, which could otherwise irritate your cervix and cause light spotting, especially during the third trimester.
How to: If facing each other in this sex position, lie down at an angle and have your partner twist their leg over yours so that your bodies form a Y-shape, keeping your belly out of the way.
For spooning, have your partner lie beside you and curl up next to your back. They can then penetrate you from behind and you can use your free hand for clitoral stimulation if that’s up your alley.
For extra comfort during pregnancy sex, and if you feel too much pressure on your lower back, try popping a pillow between your knees or below your hips.
Best for: Third trimester
Putting you in the driver’s seat, reverse cowgirl keeps the pressure off your belly and applies it on your G-spot instead, which can result in mind-blowing orgasms. Out of all the best sexual positions that can stir sexual satisfaction while pregnant, this one is definitely up there.
Reverse cowgirl is a great pregnancy sex position for any stage, but especially during the third trimester, when your bump is at its biggest. You may just need to adjust your weight by leaning back and placing your arms behind you for support. Adjust as you go and follow what feels best for your body.
How to: For this sex position, have your partner lie down on their back and sit on top of them, straddling them and facing their feet.
Non-penetrative positions: mutual masturbation and oral sex
Best for: All trimesters
Who says pregnancy sex positions need to involve penetrative sex? When you’re in the mood for some action but the corkscrew or reverse cowgirl sound like way too much effort, you can simply – and literally – let your partner give you a hand.
Super intimate, mutual masturbation is an amazing way to connect with your partner during pregnancy sex and get to know each other’s bodies on a new level. Clitoral stimulation can make sure you get just as much pleasure out of sex during pregnancy. Plus, you can always grab your favourite sex toy to spice things up even more.
Oral sex is another great option when penetration doesn’t sound all that appealing and, again, why not add a toy to the mix? Use a vibrator as they give you oral sex and you’ll be on your way to O-town.
The only thing your partner needs to keep in mind is that blowing air directly into your vagina is a big no-no. It can lead to an air embolism, which can be dangerous not only for yourself but for the little one as well.
Oh, and with pregnancy often comes an oversensitive gag reflex so if your partner has a penis, returning the favour may prove to be more challenging than usual. But hey, you can always use your hands!
What sex positions should you avoid while pregnant?
If you have a healthy, low-risk pregnancy, and unless your doctor tells you otherwise, there aren’t any specific pregnancy sex positions that you should avoid completely.
Some may feel more comfortable than others, but none are truly off-limits. So really, the best pregnancy sex positions include whatever makes you feel good.
There are only two things pregnant women should avoid: putting pressure on your bump and lying down on your back for too long (as this can restrict oxygen to the bub). Keep this in mind, adjust any sex positions accordingly, and have fun.
When is sex during pregnancy not safe?
First up, if you’re unsure about a certain pregnancy sex position, or if anything doesn’t feel quite right, reach out to your doctor for professional advice.
It’s important to stay clear of unprotected sex with a partner whose sexual history isn’t known to you for risk of STFs, which could have dangerous implications for your baby.
You may also be advised against sex during pregnancy from your health care provider if complications with your pregnancy are discovered. Factors against sex during pregnancy might include having:
unexplained vaginal bleeding, cramping or discharge
a history or threat of pre-term labour or miscarriage
problems with the cervix
leaking amnioitic fluid
cervical incompetence where the cervix opens early
If your doctor does give you the “no sex” order, make sure to clarify if that involves any orgasm or just intercourse.
Experiencing the following symptoms during sex also warrants a chat with your health care provider (and a temporary halt on any sex):
fluid or discharge
Is lube safe during pregnancy?
You betcha! In fact, lube can be really helpful during pregnancy sex for comfort and ease. Your cervix is closed during pregnancy which means any lube used won’t travel to your baby. Water-based lubricants are best for pregnant women, since they’re made with pregnancy safe ingredients that care for your vagina and it’s microbiome.
Is it safe to use a vibrator during pregnancy?
For a healthy pregnancy that is low-risk, vibrators are safe to use. Since your cervix is sealed off, there’s no risk of any harm to your baby. Using a vibrator or another sex toy can help you relax and find pleasure if penetrative sex isn’t comfortable for you right now. If you do start experience any discomfort or bleeding, listen to your body and stop using it. Lots change about your body during pregnancy, so it might take time to explore what feels good and healthy for you.
Is it safe to swallow semen during pregnancy?
Any kind of oral sex, including swallowing semen, is totally safe during pregnancy. As long as your partner is STD free, there’s no risk to you or the baby. In fact, some experts believe there are actually health benefits to semen during pregnancy, like lessening morning sickness and even preventing preeclampsia. Huh, the more you know.
Is it anal sex safe during pregnancy?
According to the American Pregnancy Association, anal sex is “not typically safe during pregnancy” compared to vaginal sex. This is mainly due to factors like haemorrhoids that can develop in pregnancy (making it painful and risky) and higher risk of STDs in anal sex that can cause harm to the baby. In saying that, this one’s up for contention so it’s best to check with a medical professional who can give you personalised advice.
At the end of the day, the best sex positions in pregnancy are ones that feel comfortable, pleasurable, and empowering for you and your partner. Your sex life is your business and should focus on whatever pregnancy sex position works for you. You might opt for non-penetrative sex, and that can still be just as satisfying for both parties. Remember that you’re the priority here as the pregnant partner, and have open conversations with your partner.
If you’re feeling a bit lost or experiencing any anxiety around sex during pregnancy, chat to a sex therapist that you feel comfortable with.