Having a baby can be an extremely stressful time, as all expectant mothers and fathers will by now have realized!
Yet there are plenty of ways of enjoying the pregnancy and reducing stress levels to acceptable levels, ranging from the simple and mundane like taking a nap each day to the more complicated like ensuring that you’re engaged in a fitness and diet program.
Now one of the things that people are frightened of when the woman is pregnant is having sex, but you can see from this post, sex can actually be a lot better during pregnancy.
I’d also suggest that sex can be a lot better if you’re fit and healthy, and one of the best ways to maintain levels of fitness and health is to use the to exercise and diet programs by John Barban known as the
So why are these two things so helpful during pregnancy?
Well, first of all, it’s going to make you feel better about yourself if you reduce your stress levels, and exercises a great way of doing that.
Secondly, if you’re fit and healthy, and enjoying a good diet, then you’re actually going to feel better about yourself, because you’ll have a higher self-esteem and more self-respect.
Thirdly, if you actually exercise in a serious regime, you can make sure that your body stands up to the stress and strain of pregnancy and being an expectant father.
Fourthly, if you exercise rigorously and regularly, then you’re actually going to enjoy much better sex because you may be feeling less stressed, more relaxed, fitter, and your body musculature, which contributes to the sensations of orgasm, is going to be stronger.
All in all, therefore, there is a compelling set of reasons why you should take the trouble to exercise regularly, even at a time where you’re likely to have lots of demands on you in every way.
So what, then, is the Adonis golden ratio all about? What it certainly isn’t is just a body building program for men. It’s an integrated system of dieting, fitness, bodybuilding, and cardiovascular fitness. It was derived by John Barban from existing programs for men, but adjusted to match male physiology perfectly.
A further refinement that John Barban introduced was to modify the program so that every man who took it received an individual and highly specific system of exercise and nutritional advice so that he would get the optimum benefits from engaging in this program.
If you’re a man and you’d like to look at some evidence of the connection between fitness and sexual pleasure, you can see it here.
Now of course none of this is meant to imply that we are all going to have to look like an Adonis, and have a similar level of fitness to an Olympic athlete to achieve sexual pleasure and satisfaction — that would be ridiculous.
What I am saying is that very clearly there is a direct connection and link between the amount of caring time that you take looking at your body, and pleasure that you get from sex and the amount of stress that you experience.
Nowhere is that more important than when you’re trying to support a woman who is pregnant — and indeed, to put it bluntly, still trying to get your end away whilst she is gestating a baby!
But this is no less true for women, because women’s requirements during pregnancy tend to get put aside in favour of the babies requirements — and yet she needs to look after her own level of fitness and eat good diet as well.
With the Venus Factor, you are immediately given the support of an entire community of women who can advise you on diet and exercise whilst you’re pregnant, and give you the greatest chance of enjoying your pregnancy and still maintaining a high level of fitness.
Yes, exercise certainly can be a big part of the equation of maintaining fitness during pregnancy, but it does require effort, and it also requires you to motivate yourself.
The motivation factor can be improved by joining the community that John Barban is designed to be supportive and positive: when you join a program with John Barban’s name on it, you get access to a whole set of people — thousands of them — who are basically going through the same process that you are, and who are willing to offer all kinds of help, support and advice.
Women who are pregnant, this is especially important, because nowhere is it more critical to ensure that you get advice and support from other women have been similar experience them when you’re giving birth to a baby.
So my suggestion to you is that don’t regard the venus factor is something that is just about getting fit and looking good when you’re not pregnant — regarded as Something that will take you through your pregnancy so that you enjoy it more, and support you beyond your pregnancy so that you can enjoy life when the baby is born.
And for men, the Adonis golden ratio is undoubtedly a program that can reduce stress, increase sexual pleasure, and leave a couple feeling more closely bonded than they might otherwise be during pregnancy.
Bad news if you’re a fan of man on top sex – it tends not to be either the easiest or the most popular for pregnant couples. In fact, if you’re beyond a few weeks pregnant, then you should definitely avoid it! This is despite the fact that the coital alignment technique is reputedly good for women to achieve orgasm during sexual intercourse. Check out this interesting sex technique here.
There are courses and workshops which are available to guide men to a greater understanding of the meaning of masculinity. The mankind project is one of them. The line of attack on any case premature ejaculation which needs to be treated is for a man to find a way of making love that causes the least level of sexual arousal, and allows him to maintain his sexual arousal below the point of no return for as long as possible.
That may mean in practice is ensuring that foreplay is prolonged, so that he has a chance to become accustomed to the sheer excitement of sexual interaction with his partner before beginning penetration.
Although you might think that that would be likely to promote rapid ejaculation, the truth is that it’s rapid sex, short foreplay, and brief interaction with the partner and superficial physical sexual engagement which tends to promote rapid ejaculation. By becoming intimately connected with his partner, by engaging in prolonged foreplay and by regarding sexual intercourse as a process that has to be taken slowly — indeed, perhaps, as slowly as possible to forestall the ejaculation which is otherwise inevitably going to happen — it’s possible for a man to enter into another process of acclimatization.
This is “sexual acclimatization”, whereby he becomes accustomed to the excitement of sex and, having become accustomed to it, is therefore able to last longer before becoming unduly aroused.
In practice sex designed for premature ejaculation control is generally recommended in the side-by-side sexual position which puts much less pressure on a man’s penis, and thereby gives less stimulation to his penis, and hopefully therefore unable since last longer during intercourse.
Since premature ejaculation is one of the most common male sexual problems, it certainly deserves closer attention than it appears to have received up until this point.
About 30% of adult men ejaculate prematurely, which in practical terms means that they have significant problem with premature or fast ejaculation. And it’s not a problem for the man alone — it’s often a problem for his partner.
Although men may tend to be very “macho” about the problem, adopting an attitude of bravado that disguises embarrassment and possibly shame about the problem, many men can’t cope with the sense of inadequacy that premature ejaculation brings about and express anger towards themselves or their partner, or perhaps show their low self-esteem in negative self talk.
The fact is, that all you have to do as a therapist is listen to the men who have this problem when they talk about it, and you will understand that premature ejaculation is a far from trivial problem; in fact it can be extremely challenging to both a man and his partner.
Knowing that it is both emotionally distressing, and has until this point been problematic to treat successfully, one has to ask whether or not there is any effective method of treatment.
The answer this seems to be that there is; although it depends on a combination of techniques used in the past, together with a selection of techniques of more recent origin, which encompass both behavior management, sexual education, and physiological modification.
In addition, many therapy speak highly of neurolinguistic programming or NLP as a means to “reprogram” the man’s expectations around sex to avoid both anxiety and the expectation of early ejaculation. Whether or not you regard classification of premature ejaculation as helpful probably depends on the discipline from which you approach the problem.
Doctors are likely to think of the classification is helpful since symptomatology and diagnosis tend to rely on the clear indication of categories. Coming from this position, you could see that premature ejaculation might be caused by medical conditions including a neurological disposition, some kind of illness, some kind of injury, or some kind of medication.
Now the fact is that no evidence has been amassed for any of these explanations of premature ejaculation. Even the sense that some writers give you that the condition is a neurological disposition is false, to the extent that there cannot possibly be any correlation between serotonin levels in the brain and the condition.
Anecdotal evidence such as men with antidepressant prescriptions finding that their ejaculation is delayed or inhibited altogether is purely that: a coincidental relationship, and certainly not one of cause and effect.
In addition, psychological causes include anxiety, relationship conflicts, and a deficit or deficiency in psychosexual skills.
As far as the partner is concerned, anger is an extremely common reaction, as some women who would reach orgasm were sexual intercourse to go on for long enough. There will also be sexual frustration and anger and sadness at the disruption that the man’s ejaculation causes during lovemaking.
The pain that women experience during premature ejaculation is that of emotional abandonment, since the common form of lovemaking in the Western world at least is that it finishes when the man’s ejaculation has taken place.
Furthermore, women may be dissatisfied with a man’s sexual performance while willing to tolerate it if he does not take any steps that might help him last longer in bed. A defense mechanism that is employed by many men to get over the shame of premature ejaculation is the sense that it is somehow impossible to cure the problem, or somehow impossible to please his partner. One effective way to deal with this may be to use some complementary therapy such as emotional freedom technique (EFT). You can find out about training for eft here.
So many men simply don’t want to seek help, perhaps out of embarrassment, but the truth is that seeking help will not prove the man’s inadequate in bed! Avoidance of the problem can be interpreted as a personal abandonment by the woman, which is reinforced by the fact that most men do nothing about premature ejaculation — even if they have experienced it for years. It’s easy to see how a woman in this situation could interpret her man’s attitude towards the problem as one of not caring!
The problem is that in general, most men with this condition are actually trying to hide how they feel about it so as not to make things worse for their lover, paradoxical behavior that causes the situation to deteriorate as the many men have relied on anecdotal treatments such as biting their lip or focusing on non-sexual thoughts. Neither of these, nor other strategies such as using two condoms or anesthetic lotions and desensitization agents on the penis, produce a significant improvement in ejaculatory control.
Indeed, the unexpected paradox is that these techniques can make things worse because they actually reduce the pleasure of the man, and may even cause erectile dysfunction. In the majority of cases, as already observed, it is essential that men understand that more than one technique will often be necessary to cure premature ejaculation.
Well, why not? At its best, sex is one of the finest human experiences, and when you’re pregnant, the added excitement of carrying a baby can add another layer of emotions to the feelings and sensations you enjoy during your lovemaking. And since orgasm is a route to spiritual connection with your partner, it’s only natural to want to enjoy the full power of your feminine sexuality at this time…..but sometimes orgasms are elusive, and the full pleasure of sex seems hard to achieve. Well, if you’re finding it difficult to achieve climax, we’d recommend using the profoundly arousing techniques outlined by Jason Julius in his powerful orgasm program, The Female Orgasm Blueprint. (Click here for full details.)
There’s a spiritual aspect to sex even when you’re not expecting – it’s a route to soul connection with your partner – and this becomes even more profound when you’re pregnant: there’s a turbulent mix of sex, spirituality and the creation of new life. Naturally you’ll be aware of all these things when you make love during your pregnancy.
Remember that the endorphins produced when you enjoy an orgasm are extremely relaxing for your baby too – what feels good for you will be good for baby as well!
Is Sex During Pregnancy Safe?
Pregnant? Interested in sex? Or is it the last thing on your mind? If you are enjoying sex, here’s what you need to know about the best way to have safe sex during pregnancy. If you’d like to be pregnant, you have sex. But what’s the rule around sex while you are pregnant? Well, the answers aren’t always so clear.
Is it OK to have sex while I’m pregnant?
Yes, provided that your pregnancy is going along normally, sex is something you cna enjoy as often as you like — but remember you may not always want it. In the early stages, hormonal changes, fatigue and nausea may cause you to lose sexual desire. And then, in the second trimester, increased blood flow to your genitals and breasts may make your desire for sex stronger. Alas, the third trimester heralds weight gain, back pain, and tiredness (maybe) and so your enthusiasm for sex may wane once again.
Can sex while I am pregnant cause a miscarriage?
Many couples ask if sex during pregnancy can cause a miscarriage, especially in the early stages. But although early miscarriages do happen, they are not due to sex; they are caused by chromosomal abnormalities or other developmental problems — not anything you do or don’t do in bed!
Does sex during pregnancy harm the baby?
No, because the amniotic fluid in your uterus, and the mucous plug that blocks the cervix throughout most of a normal pregnancy protects the baby. Sexual activity during pregnancy won’t harm your baby.
What are the best sexual positions during pregnancy?
Most sexual positions are OK during pregnancy, as long as you feel comfortable. You can always experiment to find which positions are best for you! But rather than lying on your back, try side by side positions or go on top of your partner or let him enter you from behind. Creativity is important, so keep mutual pleasure and comfort in mind.
What about oral and anal sex?
Oral sex is safe during pregnancy. But never blow air into your vagina – this can produce a life-threatening condition for you and the baby. And anal sex isn’t such a good idea for several reasons – if you have pregnancy-related hemorrhoids it can be uncomfortable. Also, it allow infection-causing bacteria to spread from the rectum to the vagina.
Can female orgasm trigger premature labor?
Orgasm does indeed cause uterine contractions, but they are different from labor contractions; in a normal pregnancy, orgasms — produced by masturbation or intercourse — don’t increase the chances of premature labor or indeed a premature birth. Nor is sex likely to trigger labor even if you are near your due date.
Are there times when sexual intercourse during pregnancy should be avoided?
Sex is safe throughout most of a woman’s pregnancy, but it’s best to be cautious and avoid sex if:
You have vaginal bleeding of uncertain origin
You’re leaking amniotic fluid
You’re at risk of preterm labor
Your cervix opens prematurely (cervical incompetence)
Your placenta covers your cervical opening, in whole or part (placenta previa)
Should you require any advice for men on how to stop premature ejaculation, this is a very useful resource which may give you all the information you need on how to enjoy better sex.
One of the reasons why there is so much interest in sex during pregnancy is that there doesn’t seem to be a widespread cultural acceptance that pregnant women can or should be sexual.
This is probably the result of the conflict in Western society between the idea of the Madonna, the perfect mother, and the sexual nature of the woman who conceived the child. So I want to start right now by saying, loudly and clearly, that it’s actually absolutely fine to have sex during pregnancy.
Indeed there are many good reasons why you should have sex during pregnancy: it’s a powerful bonding mechanism for a couple, as it maintains intimacy and rekindles love; and orgasms not only make you and your partner feel good but also bathe the baby in a delicious blend of endorphins, enabling it to sharing the experience of bliss and relaxation.
It’s true that there might be one or two hurdles for you to get over, before you can fully enjoy sex, so let’s look at those briefly.
First off, some people think that sex during pregnancy is somehow inappropriate or disrespectful. Well, that’s probably another manifestation of the conflict between sexuality and motherhood. But no mother has to be asexual or suppress her natural desires, and there is actually no reason why she should give up sex. The baby, after all, has no sense of what is happening during your lovemaking.
Sometimes women feel they are no longer attractive during pregnancy; what they probably don’t realise is that for many men, the sight of their pregnant partner is extremely sexually arousing.
Certainly making love to a woman who is pregnant is a new and different experience, but it’s just as rewarding and pleasurable, and has the added dimension of being the act which created this new life; for many men, this fact gives extra power and vitality to the act of lovemaking.
I think it’s fair to say that men generally find pregnant women sexy and attractive. But even if a man doesn’t want to make love to his partner, there are plenty of other ways of being intimate: cuddling, kissing, oral sex, and masturbation are all good substitutes for intercourse.
On the other hand, the changing hormones in a woman’s bloodstream during pregnancy may mean that she finds herself more aroused and sexy, and that she wants more sex with her partner than before she became pregnant.
She may also find that the nature of her orgasms change: she may reach orgasm more easily, or she may now be multi-orgasmic in a way she never has been before.
What this amounts to is that there’s no easy way to predict what will happen to a couple’s love life when the woman becomes pregnant.
Having said that, there’s no reason why a couple’s sex life should change, unless both partners want it to. This is why good communication and a clear and honest exchange of each other’s thoughts and feelings is essential. It’s necessary to keep the lines of communication open so that unspoken resentments don’t grow into major conflict, and so that a couple continue to understand each other’s thoughts and feelings. This will make sure they can accommodate each other’s sexual wishes, needs and desires.
Is Sex During Pregnancy Safe?
The answer to this is a resounding yes. Sex during pregnancy is safe in almost every case, except perhaps where a woman’s medical adviser has suggested that she avoids sex for some reason.
It’s also important to remember that a woman who’s pregnant shouldn’t have sex with a partner whose sexual history is not clear to her, because of the risk of getting a sexual infection, which may be transmitted to the baby.
Some of the reasons that a doctor might suggest sex is bad idea are: a woman’s history of miscarriage, or preterm labour, or a few other comparatively uncommon medical conditions. These include unexplained vaginal bleeding, leakage of amniotic fluid, placenta previa, and a weak cervix which opens prematurely.
If these apply to you, you’ll know about it, and your doctor will give you further advice.
Of course some women don’t want sex during pregnancy simply because they don’t feel like it, particularly during the later stages of pregnancy when they may feel unattractive, or too preoccupied with the impending birth and what lies beyond to be interested in sex.
Is Orgasm Safe?
It might also be helpful to point out that it’s actually safe for a pregnant woman to have as many orgasms she wants, and although there may be some slight uterine contractions, having an orgasm is not going to induce labour.
The baby is fully protected during pregnancy by the amniotic fluid and the strong muscles of the uterus. In addition, a thick mucus plug seals the cervix and guards against any infection, so that it’s absolutely impossible for the man’s penis or his ejaculated semen to come into contact with the developing baby during intercourse.
So, you can rest assured that in a normal pregnancy where everything is going smoothly, intercourse and orgasm will not affect the baby, nor will they cause a miscarriage or induce uterine contractions. (In fact the contractions of the uterus that a woman might feel during or after an orgasm are actually very different the contractions that she will feel during labour. )
You may have heard that semen contains a compound called prostaglandin that can actually stimulate uterine contractions, and indeed it has been suggested that a woman who is waiting for a baby to be born should make love to her partner to stimulate the delivery. Unfortunately there is zero evidence that this “old wives tale” actually works!
While the changes associated with pregnancy are happening, a woman may find that her sex drive unexpectedly increases or decreases during pregnancy.
It might decrease because she has to deal with all the common symptoms of pregnancy such as tiredness, tender breasts, and frequent urination; such things may make sex seem just liek another chore.
On the other hand, some women find that they become
fully immersed in the power of their femininity, and the freedom from contraception that sex during pregnancy allows them means they can express a much higher level of their sexuality; and the closeness they feel to their partner may also make sex more desirable and fulfilling.
And the man, too, may experience an increase or decrease in his sexual desire depending on how much he enjoys the change in the appearance of his partner’s body, or how much he (for example) worries about the health of his baby and its mother.
If a man is having trouble establishing how he feels about his partner as her identity changes from that of sexual partner to mother-to-be, the key, as in any relationship, is good, open and honest communication.
SEX DURING PREGNANCY
Most couples find that they have sex less often once the woman has become pregnant. Sometimes the reason is physical, sometimes it is emotional and sometimes people avoid having sex because they believe, wrongly, that intercourse will damage the baby or disrupt the pregnancy.
Many couples continue sexual activity throughout pregnancy in a natural way, varying the kinds of sexual expression and the frequency according to how they feel at each stage. Some couples however believe that pregnancy means they must reduce or even eliminate altogether the expression of their sexual feelings. Those who believe that sex and pregnancy don’t mix are responding to ancient superstitions and myths, reinforced by age-old religious injunctions; if, as Christianity has often taught, the purpose of sexual activity is to start a pregnancy, there must, for example, be some doubt about the rightness of intercourse with a pregnant woman. Poor guidance from doctors about sex during pregnancy has also contributed to the confusion and ignorance about what can or can’t be done. Also, pregnant women sometimes think they are less attractive and on occasion men agree with them – which tends to reduce the frequency of sexual activity.
The likely reduction in activity may take the form of a decrease in all forms of sex, or it may follow a pattern that has shown up in some research in which there is a reduction of sexual activity in the first and third trimesters, and an increase to the usual or even to a higher rate during the second. Why this pattern should arise we do not know but it may be because a woman’s hormones make her want sex more at this time, or maybe she needs the emotional reassurance of sex.
The nausea and discomfort some women feel during pregnancy may result in their being unable to enjoy sex. Even though this discomfort is usually confined to the mornings of the first trimester, a general uneasiness is created which may cut down on the frequency of intercourse in the second and third trimesters too. The woman may be so fatigued that she lacks the energy and enthusiasm to have intercourse. Some women find that not feeling just right is enough to prevent them from initiating or participating happily in sex.
Sometimes couples are advised by doctors to avoid intercourse, at least for a short while, due to slight bleeding, vaginal or abdominal pain, or if the woman has a history of miscarriage. These are good reasons for not having intercourse early in the pregnancy, but the fear that this information produces in the couple may lead them to avoid having intercourse throughout the pregnancy. Couples should ask their doctor when it is alright to resume regular sex.
Intercourse will become more difficult as the woman’s belly grows if the couple are not familiar with appropriate positions. This is a real physical factor inhibiting sex, but a little experimentation easily gets round the problem.
Q: “Can an orgasm during pregnancy cause labor to start early?”
A: “No. Although orgasm causes the uterus to contract it does not cause the cervix to open, which is what is needed to induce labor. In the very last stage of pregnancy, the ninth month, your cervix may be ripe for labor, and it is possible that the contractions of orgasm may hasten what is going to occur anyway, but it is not something you need concern yourself about.”
Q: “I read that sex late in pregnancy can in some circumstances endanger the fetus. What are the facts?”
A: “Most doctors believe that the psychological benefits of the intimacy intercourse provides during pregnancy are very important. Some doctors, though, advise against intercourse once the cervix starts to open (dilate) during the ninth month and other doctors are now advising their patients to reduce the frequency of intercourse during the last trimester as well. This doesn’t present too much of a problem for most couples as the frequency of intercourse during the last few months tends to decrease anyway.”
Q: “Is it common for men to have affairs when their wives are pregnant?”
A: “No. Although some men have extramarital sex during their wives’ pregnancies it is less frequent than many people believe. Most men are able to achieve sexual satisfaction throughout their wives’ pregnancies without seeking another partner. Only a small proportion (less than 3 percent) of men in one study whose wives were pregnant had sex outside the marriage. The men did however report an increase in sexual fantasies about other women. The authors concluded that a temporary decrease during pregnancy in a couple’s sexual contact was not a significant reason for the man to seek extramarital sex.”
Q: “I’m seven months pregnant and lately I’ve just wanted to kiss and cuddle. Intercourse or oral sex just isn’t for me right now. My husband thinks I’m turned off to him, but I’m not.”
A: “Intercourse and oral sex may be awkward or become uncomfortable during this stage, even when they were enjoyable during the early stages. You can’t expect your husband to read your mind, so share your feelings with him. Kissing and cuddling are important ways of expressing feelings, and if your husband understood the situation his ability to respond would be improved. There is no need for you to drift apart, misunderstand each other and lose the rewards of being close, even late in your pregnancy.”
All the kinds of sexual expression that couples are used to can continue during pregnancy, though as the woman’s belly grows it is often desirable to adapt their customary positions for intercourse. Many couples find that the frequency of intercourse declines, but they adopt other forms of sexual expression – massage, masturbation and oral sex in particular – so that they can continue to express their intimacy fully. We shall look in turn at each of the main ways of expressing intimacy in pregnancy: intercourse, masturbation, oral sex and massage.
Early in pregnancy, especially in the first three months, the man-on-top position usually presents no physical difficulty for the couple. Couples are often worried that they might hurt the baby, but there is no need for anxiety – they can’t. As the woman’s belly grows larger, the face-to-face position becomes less practical – the belly presents a considerable obstacle to penis-vagina contact. People then make more use of alternatives, such as woman-on-top sex and side-by-side sex.
The woman on top sex position, where she sits astride the man, is entirely safe and no harm can come to the baby. A side by side ex position with the man behind allows for rear entry of the penis into the vagina. Side-by-side sex facing each other is also favorable, as, like rear-entry sex, it means that both people have their hands free to caress each other.
Each couple’s creativity can add variety to these basic positions. For example, the woman-on-top sex position can be done on a chair rather than a bed; for rear-entry sex the woman can be on her hands and knees to start with, rather than lying down. Pregnancy does encourage experimentation and many couples find that some of the practices they discover during pregnancy are continued and become a regular part of their sexual expression after the birth of the baby. Intercourse is not obligatory though, and some couples find that after the, first few months of pregnancy it becomes sufficient to enjoy masturbation.
Self-masturbation and mutual masturbation are both popular during pregnancy. Masturbation may be used as a satisfying end in itself or as part of some other way of releasing sexual tension.
Some people, of course, cannot accept masturbation as a proper practice or as part of their personal ethic, and so they reject it in pregnancy as they do the rest of the time. Masturbation is just as appropriate in pregnancy as at any other time, but if an individual or a couple feels that it simply is not right then it is best ruled off their list of options.
Oral Sex is popular during pregnancy. Some people who used not to have oral sex before pregnancy have experimented as intercourse became more difficult, and found it very satisfying. It can be continued safely right through pregnancy. Sometimes, increased vaginal lubrication and a slight change in vaginal odor present a temporary difficulty, but it is nothing that cannot be overcome by bathing before sex and maybe using a scented lotion.
Massage is an extremely sensuous and fulfilling form of sexual expression. It has the advantage of providing the opportunity for deep feelings to be communicated without a genital act. During the pregnancy period or some part of it this may be an ideal way for a couple to be in close contact with each other and not to have to worry about intercourse, oral sex or other genital practices which they may feel uncomfortable about at the time. Afterward, massage may well remain as another way two people communicate their feelings.
You don’t have to be an expert to provide pleasure through massage. Your partner can tell you what feels good and you can work out satisfying techniques together.
And then there are the small, everyday ways of showing affection. Kissing, holding and touching each other also express loving care, and are important signs that all is well in the relationship and that you are still physically and emotionally close to each other. They can provide reassurance that the two people still find each other attractive even in periods when they may be refraining from genital sex.
Wrong beliefs about sex in pregnancy are legion. These are some:
During pregnancy many people – women as well as men – find that their feelings about themselves and their partners affect their sexual practices. These feelings range from optimism and excitement to depression and self-doubt. Not everyone feels the same way during pregnancy and feelings readily change as a pregnancy progresses.
“I feel so unattractive. I’ve lost my shape and I am fat.”
“My breasts are finally the size and shape I’ve always wanted them to be. I feel so sexy.”
“How can he want to look at me or touch me?”
“I couldn’t believe how nurturing I felt. I thought men weren’t supposed to feel that way.”
“She feels ugly and I feel she is blooming. It’s a real turn-on for me.”
“All the attention she and the baby are getting is starting to annoy me. Frankly, I feel left out.”
Some women feel deeply that they have lost their attractiveness when their pregnancies become obvious. They feel their changing appearance is bound to be confusing for their man, who will also be uncertain about how his partner is behaving this way; indeed one partner may find another less attractive: it does happen. Either way, sexual activity diminishes to the detriment of the relationship. on the other hand, a man may find his wife just as appealing, perhaps in a different, more compelling way. The mix of feelings can be subtle and shifting. Suspicion can breed suspicion, which is why it is important for both people to be open about their excitement as well as their anxiety, about their vulnerability as well as their optimism. Each partner is likely to need support and reassurance from the other at some stage in the pregnancy: giving and receiving it will make for greater mutuality and greater fulfillment.
If a couple’s sexual activity is reduced during pregnancy, this can easily lead to their feeling estranged from each other. They become concerned, but are unsure whether the increased distance between them is a spontaneous effect of the woman’s being pregnant or whether they can do something about it. They can, of course, change the situation for the better. The barrier that is being built doesn’t have to be there, and it doesn’t have to go on growing. They can discuss their concerns and come to understand each other’s anxieties. Sexual expression during pregnancy can be a very important way of keeping close, of avoiding the separateness that concerns many people. It is natural that there should be some strains on the relationship – couples hope that the baby will be alright, and that they will successfully adapt to their imminent role as parents – but it is through continued intimacy that the couple can adjust and move together. Intimacy built during pregnancy through mutual understanding can be a positive feature of the relationship after the child is born.
CULTURE AND RELIGION
Currently, the major religions do not prohibit sexual activity during pregnancy, though Catholic, Protestant and Jewish believers have all been faced with prohibitions in the past.
For centuries the Catholic Church’s teaching on intercourse was that it was solely for procreative purposes. So it followed that once pregnancy occurred intercourse was not necessary and could be considered a surrender to immoral lust. In the twelfth century the Church taught that sex during pregnancy was a risk to the embryo and would cause a miscarriage. St Thomas Aquinas in the next century also condemned it, and in the fifteenth century St Bernardine wrote that it was animal-like. These attitudes persisted until recently, and were not peculiar to Catholics. The Church of England, for example, right up to the early twentieth century had similar prohibitions against sex during pregnancy. Religious prohibition was translated into social taboo: during the Victorian period intercourse during pregnancy was thought to leave an indelible mark on the baby or to cause it to suffer from epilepsy. Marriage manuals therefore !aught abstinence. There have been some very strict Orthodox Jewish interpretations of Jewish law which suggest avoidance of intercourse during pregnancy, but the fundamental Jewish belief is that sex during pregnancy is a moral act, even a mitzvah for the man if his wife is desirous.