Couples tend to fall into two camps when it comes to getting intimate during pregnancy. For some their sex life continues entirely as normal right up until they give birth, but for others sex is put on the no-go list the minute two blue lines appear on the pregnancy test.
And a new survey by ChannelMum.com has revealed that the number of parents refraining from sexual intimacy is higher than you might think.
The parenting channel quizzed 2,000 parents and found that many couples were avoiding sex during pregnancy out of concern that they might ‘hurt’ the baby.
While a further one in 10 felt it was just plain wrong to have sex with a baby on the way, which when you think about it is slightly bonkers considering how the baby likely got there in the first place.
How far along the mum-to-be was in her pregnancy also seems to have an impact on how much sex couples are having. Women from the study reported that they had the best sex at around four months, but just two months later, at the point of the sixth month, 57 per cent had stopped getting intimate altogether.
So why are couples not doing it when the woman’s (s)expecting (geddit?)? Turns out it is has something to do with how pregnant women feel, with eight in 10 mums saying that during the full 42 weeks, they only felt attractive for a teeny period (hardly surprising when you factor in tiredness, nausea and a changing body.)
On the plus side 65% of dads said they found their other half more beautiful than ever while pregnant.
“Anything which changes your life and your body changes the way you deal with sex – and pregnancy does both,” explains Psychologist and relationship expert Emma Kenny. “For some women, they revel in their curvier body and their sex drive goes through the roof. But others are anxious about hurting their unborn child, insecure about their blooming body or stressed about the impending pressures of motherhood, and this means they find it far harder to maintain a normal connection with their partner and have sex.”
“We need to recognise there are so many changes during pregnancy that if your sex life is a different to normal, that’s fine – just stay in touch emotionally with your partner so you both feel supported,” she continues.
Commenting on the findings Siobhan Freegard, founder of ChannelMum.com said: “Sex in pregnancy is a such a controversial subject. So many mums-to-be struggle with their body image or feeling ill that many will be shocked – and even reassured – to know their partners see them as more beautiful than ever.”
But what about the whole safety issue? Just how safe is it to have sex while pregnant?
According to the NHS it’s perfectly safe to have sex during pregnancy.
“Your partner’s penis can’t penetrate beyond your vagina, and the baby cannot tell what’s going on,” the site reads. “However, it is normal for your sex drive to change during pregnancy. Don’t worry about this, but do talk about it with your partner.”
But there are some times when it is advised that pregnant women do avoid sex.
“Your midwife or doctor will probably advise you to avoid sex if you’ve had any heavy bleeding in pregnancy, since sex may increase the risk of further bleeding if the placenta is low or there is a haematoma (a collection of blood),” the site advises.
“You’ll also be advised to avoid sex if your waters have broken (rupture of membranes) as this can increase the risk of infection. If you’re unsure, ask your midwife or doctor.”
Maggie Fisher, from the Institute of Health Visiting said that women who have been diagnosed with a condition called placenta praevia may also be advised to abstain from sex.
“Women diagnosed with placenta praevia – where the placenta lies in front of the cervix – should normally avoid sex and follow the advice of their healthcare professional,” she says.
But while sex is safe for most during pregnancy, it can sometimes be tricky and may involve some trial and error in finding positions that feel comfortable.
“Sex with your partner on top can become uncomfortable quite early in pregnancy, not just because of the bump, but because your breasts might be tender,” it advises.
“It can also be uncomfortable if your partner penetrates you too deeply. It may be better to lie on your sides, either facing each other or with your partner behind.”
According to Siobhan the key is working out what feels right for you as a couple.
“There’s no right or wrong so the key is to do what’s right for you as a couple while keeping the baby safe,” she says.
“If there’s no medical issue and you are comfortable with it, you can enjoy a great sex life while pregnant – and many mums swear by sex to kick-start labour.”
“Whatever your choice, ensure you discuss it with your partner so neither of you feel your own needs are being neglected,” she continues.
“And remember even if your sex life does stop, it’s only for a few months, so enjoy spending quality time together in other ways too.”
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