“Can sex during pregnancy harm the baby?” At Westchester Health, this is one of the most frequent questions we get asked by expecting couples. Our answer (unless there’s a problem) is almost always no. To learn why, we urge you to read this informative blog on the subject by Lauren Adler, MD, FAAP, a pediatrician with our Westchester Health Pediatrics group (excerpted below). There is also a good deal of helpful information and advice for expecting parents on the WHP website which you can access here.
For most women with low-risk pregnancies with no complications, sex during pregnancy is very safe and will not harm the developing fetus.
The amniotic sac and the strong muscles of the uterus protect the unborn baby, and the thick mucus plug that seals the cervix helps guard against infection. During intercourse, the penis does not go beyond the vagina, so it won’t reach the baby.
“Pregnant sex” trimester by trimester
Sex in the first weeks of pregnancy is usually not on the minds of most moms-to-be due to morning sickness (which is usually at its worse during this time).
By this stage, morning sickness for most women has passed (or at least decreased) and they’re feeling much better. In addition, for most women, their stomach has not become overly huge yet.
At this point, sex becomes more physically difficult, especially during the final weeks of pregnancy. A woman’s belly is now really large, she is usually tired all the time, and being done with pregnancy is often the only thing on her mind.
Can having sex trigger labor?
Contrary to popular belief, no (if you are low-risk). Sexual stimulation or orgasm cannot start labor or cause a miscarriage. While orgasm may cause mild uterine contractions (as can nipple stimulation), those contractions are generally temporary and harmless.
You should NOT have sex while pregnant if you have:
- A history of repeated miscarriages, preterm labor or premature birth.
- Placenta previa (the placenta is covering the cervix) which puts you at risk of hemorrhaging if you have sex during pregnancy.
- Premature rupture of membranes which occurs when the sac containing the developing baby and the amniotic fluid bursts or develops a hole before labor. If this occurs, you should contact your doctor right away.
- Vaginal bleeding or foul-smelling discharge after sex. If this occurs, you should contact your doctor right away. Discharge may be a sign of an infection that can travel upward to the uterus, and bleeding may be a sign of any number of problems.
- A partner with an STD. In this circumstance, you must use a barrier method of contraception, such as a condom, to protect yourself and your unborn baby.
- Leaking amniotic fluid. If this occurs, you should contact your doctor right away.
- Your cervix begins to open prematurely (cervical incompetence).
Some helpful articles on the subject:
- Sex during pregnancy: How to stay safe and have fun
- The Best Positions for Pregnancy Sex
- Sex during pregnancy: What’s OK, what’s not
Concerned about sex while pregnant? Come see us.
If you’d like more information on whether it’s okay for you and your partner to have sex during pregnancy, or if you’re worried about the safety of the baby, please make an appointment with one of our Westchester Health pediatricians or a Westchester Health OB/GYN. Our #1 goal is for you to have a safe pregnancy and deliver a healthy baby. Whenever, wherever you need us, we’re here for you.
To read Dr. Adler’s blog in full, click here.