Sex during Normal Pregnancy does not harm the Foetus

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Delhi-based gynaecologist, Dr Amrinder, breaks the taboo of sex during pregnancy. She tells us the dos and don’ts of coitus in this condition. A Different Truths exclusive.

Sex during pregnancy is a taboo subject on account of our cultural tendency to dissociate sex from motherhood. Mothers, mothers in law, even some doctors prohibit sex during pregnancy, especially in the first three months. Though this is the first question most newly pregnant couples would like to ask especially if they have been recently married, they are too shy to broach the subject, so I do it myself. It is amusing to let the couple go out of my consultation room after a consult and after a while see the wife enters alone who, after much hemming and hawing finally pops the question. If I have the time, I sometimes amuse myself by these antic enjoying their embarrassment till I finally put an end to it. More often than not I volunteer the information they secretly desire.

From a medical point of view, sexual intercourse and orgasm during a normal pregnancy do not harm the foetus. You can continue to have intercourse right up to the onset of labour.

Just because sex is allowed during pregnancy, it does not mean that you will necessarily want to have it. The desire for sex during pregnancy varies from person to person. In some women, it increases while others don’t feel like it. The husband should not feel that she is rejecting him. In fact, some husbands too lose interest in sex because the increased responsibilities of an expectant father may weigh heavily upon their minds or they fear that they may harm the baby. In such a situation the wife should not feel that, because she has become fat and ugly, he desires her no more. Such feelings are normal and should not evoke any sort of complex. Be open with each other and communicate your feelings freely to each other. You could be caring and tender, cuddle in bed and talk intimately. This will strengthen the marital bond and the negligible sex life will cease to matter.

During the first trimester, morning sickness, fatigue, frequent urination and breast tenderness, may make the pregnant woman less interested in sex. But most regain interest during the middle 3 months when these symptoms subside and are more than ready to make up for lost time. Freedom from worries about contraception and a renewed sense of closeness with your partner makes sex more fulfilling. As your abdomen enlarges, intercourse is more comfortable in positions that put less pressure on the abdomen, like side by side or woman on top. Some women lose their desire for sex in the last months for they are preoccupied with preparations for the new arrival.

Sex usually does not harm the baby for it is ‘sealed’ in a bag of waters. Moreover, the cervix is about 4cms long, closed and is plugged with thick mucus. As a result, the penis does not come in contact with the baby.

However, if there is bleeding, pain or discharge from the vagina after intercourse, you must inform your doctor immediately.

Sex, masturbation and even nipple stimulation are prohibited in the following situations:

– history of miscarriages/preterm labour

– pain in the lower abdomen

– bleeding from the vagina

– low lying placenta as seen on ultrasound

– cervical incompetence – a weak cervix that can lead to miscarriage

– leaking of clear fluid from the vagina.

– vaginal infection

This is because these activities may cause contractions of the uterus and preterm labour. On the other hand, if the due date has been crossed activities like nipple stimulation can initiate labour pains!

There are two types of sexual behaviours that are not safe in pregnancy. These are:

– Sex with an unknown partner or multiple partners for there is a very real risk of sexually transmitted diseases like Herpes, Chlamydia, and HIV. In fact, if the husband is HIV     positive, it is advisable to use a condom to decrease the viral load.

– While engaging in oral sex, blowing air in the vagina is prohibited as this could lead to air embolism, which could be fatal!

©Dr. Amrinder Kaur Bajaj

Photos from the Internet

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Dr. Amrinder Kaur Bajaj is a practicing gynaecologist and the HOD Obs & Gynae at MAX Hospital Pitampura, Delhi. Writing is a passion that has led to the publication of two wellness books, a book of poems, a joke book, and a memoir based on her association with the noted Indian author and columnist Khushwant Singh. She regularly writes columns, articles, travelogues, and short stories for magazines and newspapers and has contributed chapters to medical text books.