This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Contact a qualified medical professional before engaging in any physical activity, or making any changes to your diet, medication or lifestyle.
Contemplating the dos and don'ts of intimacy with a baby on board? It's natural — pregnancy brings a whole new set of considerations to the bedroom.
Dr. Amanda Black, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Ottawa as well as the president of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada, says most people can continue having sex during their pregnancy without worry. However, she tells Yahoo Canada there are some medical reasons why sex might not be advised.
For reality TV star Kourtney Kardashian, this rings true with her most recent and current pregnancy. The 44-year-old mother of three, currently married to Travis Barker, recently spoke to Vanity Fair Italia about restrictions doctors advised at the beginning of her pregnancy. These included limitations on workouts, caffeine and flights.
"Even no sex," said Kardashian, who had to undergo an unexpected fetal surgery in September. "All this caution made me a little afraid because in the past I had never had to be [so] careful. It took me a while to let go of the fear, I would say that right after the surgery I got to the point where I let go, I stopped worrying."
She added she now talks to the baby every day and does her best to keep a positive mindset.
When should you avoid sex when pregnant?
Dr. Yolanda Kirkham, an obstetrician at St. Joseph’s Health Centre, Unity Health Toronto and an assistant professor at the University of Toronto, told Yahoo Canada there are several other reasons to avoid sex while pregnant.
"If you have a placenta previa or abnormally implanted placenta, you definitely don't want to have sex," she claimed.
Placenta previa is a condition where the placenta is located lower in the uterus, partially or entirely covering the cervix. This condition can lead to bleeding during the later stages of pregnancy and sometimes requires medical attention to ensure the safety of both the mother and the baby.
There can also be unexplained bleeding during the first trimester, so Kirkham recommended getting checked by your healthcare provider before having sex.
If you are at risk of preterm labour (or early labour), where contractions begin opening and changing the cervix, doctors will typically advise you to abstain from sex, Kirkham said.
"Or, if you have a cervical insufficiency," she added. If you have a cervical insufficiency (or a short cervix), the cervix begins to open too early without contractions or labour. This can potentially result in a premature birth or pregnancy loss.
Precautions if you have multiple sexual partners
Lastly, Kirkham recommended using condoms and getting tested regularly if you have multiple sexual partners since the risk of some sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can have severe effects on your child.
"For example, chlamydia and gonorrhea, which are the most common STIs, can cause blindness for the baby during the vaginal birth process," she explained, adding that's why antibiotic eye drops are routinely offered after a baby's birth.
Additionally, open sores or genital herpes can be painful and contagious during sex and childbirth. Antiviral oral medications are usually prescribed in the final month of pregnancy to prevent active lesions during vaginal birth.
Listen to your body: Expert
Though these circumstances can sound severe, most people can continue to be sexually intimate with their partners while pregnant.
Changes in libido during different trimesters can lead to experimentation (like a fun new position) and raise your self-esteem.
"In pregnancy, our blood volume increases so much and it goes to our pelvis and you get more engorgement," Kirkham said, adding increased blood flow during any type of intimacy, even outercourse, makes sex more pleasurable.
Kirkham said to listen to your body, acknowledging physical changes like nausea, breast tenderness, back pain and bladder pressure might not make you feel sexy or in the mood.