Five common myths about sex during pregnancy

Intercourse can be on the menu for expectant parents, but there are some caveats

Concern over sex during pregnancy is common, particularly among first-time parents. File photograph: iStockPhoto

Concern over sex during pregnancy is common, particularly among first-time parents. File photograph: iStockPhoto


Concern about having sex during pregnancy is common among couples who are expecting their first baby.

It is an issue some of them raise with midwife Annette Mulhern, who sees all patients on every visit they make to the Evie clinic in Sandyford.

Here she debunks five of the most common myths:

Women go off sex during pregnancy

Well, they might in the first trimester, if they are feeling very nauseous and wiped out. But, in the second trimester, they have more energy. Their libido may start to wane towards the end of the pregnancy if they are “more uncomfortable and don’t feel sexy”.

Sex is too difficult

This should not be the case, although as the pregnancy progresses couples may have to adjust their positions to find some that are more comfortable for both partners.

Sex can harm the baby

Not unless there is a contraindication, which is why it is always a good idea to have this conversation with a health professional. Generally, the foetus is very well protected in the amniotic sac.

However, it is not OK for a woman who has had a stitch put into her cervix to have intercourse – such couples would have to find some other way of being intimate, she says. Likewise, in cases of placenta praevia, where the placenta is lying too low over the neck of the womb. “You could cause a lot of trouble there – haemorrhaging, even losing the baby.”

Oral sex during pregnancy is harmful

Blowing air directly in the vagina can cause complications but, otherwise, oral sex is safe for the foetus. It can be a good option if intercourse becomes uncomfortable.

Contractions from an orgasm can cause a miscarriage

There is a hormone in semen that can cause contractions, “but they are so minor they wouldn’t start off a labour”, she says.

Meanwhile, after the birth, most women are definitely not interested in sex for some weeks. Generally, life is all about the baby and recovering from the delivery. New mothers are exhausted and when they lie down on the bed, they want to go to sleep, Mulhern points out.

However, she recalls that when training in the Coombe about 20 years ago, she discovered in one of the public wards a guy in a curtained-off bed with a girl.

“God love her, I couldn’t believe it – 24 or 36 hours after delivery and there he was.” Not to be recommended.