Sex during and after pregnancy, childbirth and having children

Texts about sex aimed at expectant and new parents have often been criticised for being normative or even irrelevant to LGBTQI people. We have changed that! Read certified sexologist Suzann Larsdotter’s text, where she, in an open and inclusive way, talks about sex during and after pregnancy, delivery and having children, aimed both at expectant parents and parents with young children.

by Suzann Larsdotter, certified sexologist, certified sociologist, therapist & registered health counsellor.

Sex during pregnancy

Is it nine months of abstinence or are you hornier than ever? The interest in sex during pregnancy varies from person to person and has a lot to do with how you feel overall. Enjoy what feels good and does good, regardless of if it’s liquorice candy, sex or masturbation.

Lust and pregnancy

Your libido may change during pregnancy. In what way differs from person to person. Some get hornier, and pregnancy may be a time when sexual relationships and sexual pleasure are intensified. Others may experience a lower libido and prepare for parenthood. This also applies to potential partners. Therefore, it’s important to talk about libido and sex with your partner(s). Having sex and/or finding other ways to enjoy each other is an important factor. Even if the libido isn’t at its highest, there’s often a need for closeness and intimacy, to feel loved and appreciated. To be able to talk about expectations and wishes when it comes to sex is generally important both for the sex life and the relationship in general. Putting what happens in both body and mind into words facilitates finding good compromises. Masturbation is always a good way to meet your sexual needs, irrespective of partners.

In the beginning, the hormonal changes, tiredness and nausea can lower the libido, but that may be just a phase. In the beginning of pregnancy nausea and sensitivity to smells may be a problem. The best time to have sex for many is during the second trimester, when the blood flow to the genitals increases and it may feel like the mucous membranes are a bit swollen. This leads to increased lubrication, and it may feel like having a constant erection. Because the body is changing, it’s important to communicate to each other what feels good and less good physically. At the end of the pregnancy a big belly might get in the way and feel awkward, but if everyone involved wants to have sex, just go for it.

How can you have sex when you’re pregnant?

Vaginal, oral or anal, cuddle sex, frottage, dry humping or kinky practices, most can be done during pregnancy. Many can keep having sex the way they used to. Some sexual practices may not work as well, and you might try to explore new ways of having sex. Let what feels good to you and your sex partner(s) guide you.

During a pregnancy without complications, sexual activities are not associated with an increased risk for medical issues. Sometimes a midwife or doctor will advise against having sex. It might be because of bleeding, that the water has broken or that there’s a risk for premature birth.

How is the child affected?

Some are concerned that the baby will be harmed by having sex, but it lies safely behind a strong wall of the womb and is surrounded by amniotic fluid and amniotic membranes. Inside the vagina, there’s a mucus plug in the cervix that also protects the baby from bacteria. Others may think that the baby/foetus is present and can pick up on what’s going on, but don’t worry, it’s impossible for a foetus to know what the parent is doing. Foetuses can’t distinguish between the movement you make when running to the bus and having sex.

Can sex induce birth?
No, if you’re healthy and have no complications you don’t need to worry. Sometimes orgasms can create contractions, but they pass. The mucous membranes in the genital area can become more fragile, and thereby there might be bleeding, but superficial bleeding from the mucous membranes doesn’t harm the baby.

Sex toys
There are no problems using sex toys during pregnancy, both anally and vaginally. Vibrators, dildoes or being fucked or fucking someone with a strap-on is all good as long as everyone involved feels good. Never use toys or fingers that have been around the anus in the vagina as it may lead to urinary tract infections. It’s important to clean the toys before and after using them. Use the intended cleaner or soap and water. Silicone things without electricity can be dipped into boiling water.

Being pregnant as a man

More and more men choose to carry and give birth to a child and they are therefore more and more socially visible. These are acts of empowerment and there are ways to get past obstacles and make your own reproductive choices as a trans person. To become pregnant as a trans man may be stressful, which means that you have to take care of yourself and get the support you need. Gender dysphoria can be triggered by physical changes and people might misgender you. Close relationships are therefore important when it comes to seeing and acknowledging who you are, not least in sexual situations.

Gender identity and parental status should of course be respected by healthcare. You can always tell the health care staff how you want them to refer to your genitals or how you want to be addressed.

Sex after pregnancy

How does childbirth affect your sex life?
Childbirth is different for everyone. For some, it’s something pleasurable, almost like an orgasm, while for others it’s a difficult and painful experience. Partners and/or co-parents may also be affected by the delivery. When the delivery has been a traumatic experience or has caused smaller or larger injuries it’s incredibly important to be able to talk to healthcare staff.

When can you have sex after childbirth?
The answer is simple; when it feels good. How soon after childbirth sex feels good varies, and of course depends on how the delivery has gone and potential injuries. Some feel lust and want to have sex very soon, while others prefer to wait. Before, the advice was to avoid enclosing sex during the first six weeks after delivery. But you can have sex when you want to. As long as you have bleeding there’s an increased risk of infection so clean fingers and condom on penis or dildo.

During sexual arousal breast milk can squirt like a fountain from the breasts which can be good to know.

How long it takes for the body to recover varies. Let it take the time it needs, there’s no set time. Sex can also be perceived as a must and a performance, like so many other things in life, and therefore it can be nice to not have sex too. Closeness, tenderness and sensuality can many times replace sex. The important thing isn’t to have sex as soon as possible, but to strengthen the closeness and intimacy of the relationship. One important reason for being happy in a relationship is good communication and showing each other mutual emotional acknowledgement in many ways.

What happens to the body and genitals after childbirth?

The genitals may feel completely different, especially after childbirth. The tissue and muscles have been stretched. Some speak of feeling like a baboon, where everything feels swollen, tender and big. It’s common to suffer minor injuries during childbirth, but serious injuries are not as common. After 6-8 weeks, things have usually stabilised and gone back to normal. If you are worried, ask for a pelvic exam with a mirror and be guided by a midwife or a doctor who can explain possible changes and answer questions. The mucous membranes are affected by breastfeeding and can become a little red, irritated and more sensitive. This is due to a change in oestrogen levels. Lubricate well when masturbating and having sex that involves touching the genitals.

Other parts of the body change too after pregnancy, and it may take a while to accept these changes. The body has an amazing ability to recover, but pregnancy leaves some traces. Wear them like an important life experience.

What happens if you have different sexual needs?
During breastfeeding, the people who nurse will get their need for closeness fulfilled, not least through the hormone oxytocin, and the libido might decrease. Then it is important to satisfy other’s needs of closeness and intimacy.

Most problems can be solved by talking to each other. A common problem is that partners assume that they know what the other one is feeling and wants without them having communicated it. Try and express yourselves about what you want separately and go through it together to see in what way you can meet each other’s sexual wishes. The gestational parent has to decide when intimate touching feels good. Everybody involved is responsible for their own libido and orgasms and can never demand anything from others.

To expect in different ways

To be pregnant through surrogacy or adoption sometimes influences how you see yourself as a sex partner. The new role as a parent can decrease sexual desire. It can also awaken thoughts and sometimes even shame about if it’s really allowed to be horny or kinky as a parent. You as a parent never need to feel shame about your desire, but enjoy and be thankful for it. It benefits both you and your relationships. Having a child often affects the libido and not least the opportunities for sex, regardless of how the children have been conceived.

How do we get time and energy to fuck?

This is something many parents with young children have asked themselves. The truth is that they have less sex than others, and that’s not strange at all. During the first six months or longer, there might be chaos. The overwhelming tiredness, a new individual in the bed, nursing, feeding, changing diapers, worrying aren’t exactly libido-enhancing factors. Regardless of if you’re a single parent or if there are partners, you have to find a way to incorporate your sex life into everyday life. Renegotiate as needed. Having a good network of other important adults who can care for the child can be immensely helpful.

Seek help if there’s a problem

Unfortunately, the quality of care varies across the country. There are better opportunities to find LGBTQI+ specialised care in larger cities. That being said, there are competent caregivers in many other places, you just have to find them. A good way is to network and asking others for tips on good caregivers.

Seek help if there are problems with the sex life. It’s normal to feel sore many months after childbirth. If you are in pain and it still feels uncomfortable six months after childbirth, you should seek help and be examined. A gynaecologist can help you with diagnosis and treatment.
It’s not uncommon that getting pregnant and having a child puts a strain on the relationship. If you live with one or more partners there can be tensions between the gestational and non-gestational parent(s). To talk about your experiences is always good. If you can’t get any further on your own, try speaking to a midwife at a midwifery clinic, they are used to these kinds of problems and can guide you to other caregivers. If that doesn’t feel right you can seek help at the municipality’s family counselling, which also has experience in sexual problems in relationships. Remember that you always are entitled to LGBTQI+ competent staff. There are also private therapists and sexologists that you can choose from freely, but they aren’t covered by the maximum health cost bill, so you may have to pay more.

* We have chosen to use certain medical terms, like for example vaginal, in order to make the text more comprehensible. We are aware that not everybody uses that term about their own body.