5 things you should know about sex during pregnancy and after birth


Most would-be moms worry about whether or not sex during pregnancy is safe for the baby. It’s a question that will probably arise sooner rather than later during your term. We answer some questions to help to reassure and ease the anxiety.

So, is it safe to have sex during pregnancy?

Yes, says Johannesburg-based clinical psychologist Professor Elna McIntosh. “From your first trimester to your last, pregnancy and sex are a healthy combination, assuming that yours like most, is complication-free.” Gynaecologist and obstetrician Dr Peter Koll agrees: “The foetus is safely contained within a fluid-filled amniotic sac that essentially acts as a shock absorber. The entrance to your cervix is sealed by a mucus plug during your pregnancy, so, in the absence of complications, there really isn’t much to worry about.”

ALSO SEE: Best sex positions during pregnancy

Can sperm infect or harm my baby?

“Your partner’s sperm poses no risk to your baby, but be careful if you suspect he’s carrying and STD (sexually transmitted disease) or has HIV,” says Dr Koll.

Can sex cause early labour?

“The jury is out on this one, but many doctors and midwives say it does. Sperm contains prostaglandins that help relax tissues, and orgasms release oxytocin, the feel-good hormone instrumental to labour. If you’re overdue, then sex may help to encourage labour, and certainly can’t do any harm. But don’t have sex if you think your waters have broken,” says Dr Koll.

ALSO SEE: 10 embarrassing pregnancy and birth questions answered

My heart races during sex. Can this harm my baby?

“No. If anything, the extra oxygen circulating through your body is actually healthy,” says Dr Koll.

Important things to consider when having sex

There are some conditions that preclude sex as an option while pregnant:

  • Placenta praevia, a condition in which the placenta is attached to the uterine wall, is an example, or if you’re at risk for preterm labour. In these cases your caregiver will be very specific about what to avoid.
  • While penetrative sex won’t necessarily harm your growing child, sexually transmitted infections might, and it’s important that the sex you’re practising during your pregnancy is safe. “I would always advise the use of a condom if there’s any risk of STIs (sexually transmitted infections) or in the case of a non-monogamous relationship,” says Dr Koll.
  • Dr Koll also advises against anal sex, because of the infection risk, and urges couples to be cautious when engaging in oral sex.

More about the expert:

Dr Peter Koll is a renowned specialist Obstetrician and Gynaecologist who has been in private practice for over 27 years. Dr. Koll is also a fellow of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, with special interests that include high-risk obstetrics, laparoscopic surgery and preventative care. Read more about Dr Peter Koll here.

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