Will making love squash my baby?
Absolutely not, says Dr Elna Rudolph, sexologist and clinical head of My Sexual Health, an organisation that offers treatment for relationship and sexual health concerns. “There have never been any reports of sex physically harming an unborn child. Remember that your baby is not inside your vagina, but safely tucked away in your uterus waiting to be born, and that your partner’s penis goes nowhere near it. Your baby is also well protected by the thick layers of muscles that make up your uterus and is suspended in amniotic fluid that guards it against any onslaughts from the outside world.”
Can having an orgasm trigger labour?
There are many different myths and theories about having an orgasm during pregnancy, says psychologist and sexologist Dr Marelize Swart. “However, you shouldn’t worry, because many studies have shown that a female orgasm does not induce labour – especially when you’re preterm. In fact, having an orgasm may actually deliver some benefits to your unborn child due to the increased blood flow to your uterus and placenta, which will help to increase oxygen flow and nourishment to your baby. The mild contractions you experience during an orgasm will not be strong enough to bring on labour unless you are ready to give birth anyway, which is why, if you do go past your due date, sex may be recommended as a way to get things going.”
Can sex cause miscarriage?
Only in a few special cases, explains Dr Rudolph. “In more than 95% of pregnancies sex is perfectly safe and normal, but your gynae may suggest otherwise if, for example, your membranes have ruptured (as there’s an increased risk of infection spreading to your baby); if you have placenta previa, where the placenta is sitting right over your cervix; if you’ve gone into preterm labour; or you have had a threatening miscarriage. Ask your healthcare provider whether sex is safe for you. If he says no, ask why, for how long, and whether it’s specifically penetration that you should avoid or if it’s having an orgasm that could be dangerous.”
Can my baby be exposed to infection during sex?
Yes, says sexologist Catriona Boffard. “This is known as vertical transmission and it could happen during pregnancy and even labour. If you’re exposed to sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as HIV, herpes or hepatitis B, while you are pregnant, there could be serious consequences for your unborn child. This is why all couples should be tested for STIs and HIV before having unprotected sex. In addition, you should be tested at the beginning of your pregnancy, so any infection can be appropriately treated and managed by your doctor,” she says.
Does my baby know what’s going on?
From the best of our understanding, it’s unlikely that your baby is going to be affected either physically or emotionally by your love making, says Dr Swart. “Your baby is quite literally floating around in his own little bubble and is oblivious to what else is going on, because he is too immature to understand or know what you are experiencing. He is also too young to place a value judgement on what you are doing. If you, or your partner, are worried about having sex when your baby is so obviously present, be assured that your baby has no idea what you’re doing, so just have fun!”
Can my partner’s penis touch or hurt my baby?
“Your partner may not be happy to hear this,” says Dr Rudolph, “but no penis is big, or strong, enough to physically touch your baby, unless you have already gone into labour and your baby’s head has come through the cervix into the vaginal canal – by that stage you would be in labour and sex would be the last thing on your mind.”
Should I avoid sex if my placenta is low?
Dr Swart says, “Generally, it’s advisable to avoid sexual penetration and orgasm if you have a low-lying placenta, because any movement of the cervix may dislodge the placenta and cause bleeding. Your doctor will tell you at your 20-week scan whether you should refrain from having sex. If you develop placenta previa towards the end of your pregnancy, you may be put on bed rest and told to avoid having sex and orgasms. Alternatively, you may have to spend the last few weeks of your pregnancy in hospital, particularly if you’ve had any bleeding, so that you can have an immediate C-section if necessary.”
Can I engage in oral sex?
Of course you can, insists Catriona. “If you have an uncomplicated pregnancy and your healthcare provider has said you can continue to be sexual (be sure to ask), then there’s no problem with having oral sex – it can actually be a great way to receive pleasure from your partner when your belly starts to get in the way. The only thing you need to do is make sure that your partner doesn’t blow air into your vagina. This is because it rarely can cause the complication of an air embolism, a bubble of air that gets into your circulatory system and could be potentially life threatening to you and your unborn child.”
A freelance journalist and content writer with a passion for people and health. She has worked in the magazine industry for many years and is a regular contributor to Living and Loving.