Could orgasms set off labour? Answers to common concerns around sex during pregnancy

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Here are some of the most common concerns and the answers you've been looking for (Unsplash)
Here are some of the most common concerns and the answers you've been looking for (Unsplash)

The months before you give birth can be worrisome. 

Parents who are expecting the arrival of a baby can be ridden with questions about what to eat, how much to exercise and even moreso about how their sex life should change to accomodate the growing life. 

Below are the answers you've been looking for to some of the most common concerns and questions around sex during pregnancy.

Sex in the early months will cause miscarriage

There is no conclusive evidence to support this and it's not known exactly what causes some women to miscarry. But if your partner has vaginal bleeding or cramps, stop having sex until she is checked out.

Also, if she has a history of miscarriage, then rather stop sex at least for the first trimester and err on the side of caution.

Also see: Which sex positions are safe? Experts explain what to expect, trimester by trimester

Sex after birth

Your partner may bleed for up to six weeks after the birth, so you probably won't even want to consider sex before it's stopped. She will probably be too tired, too busy and too distracted to engage in intercourse as well.

Typically, sexual desire is quite low in both partners soon after birth. Be patient and give it time - if she's had a Caesarean or an episiotomy, sex for the first time afterwards could be quite painful and traumatic. Rather be patient and understanding.

Will it bring on labour?

There is some evidence to suggest that depositing semen near the neck of the womb can help get labour going - but only if the baby is ready to be born. It's rich in prostaglandins, which is thought to kick off contractions.

Sex is often recommended to couples whose pregnancy has gone past their due date. And while doing the deed (with orgasm) might seem impossible when your wife's 9 months pregnant, it can, and has, been done.

Can sex harm the baby?

One of the most common reasons men and women cut back on their sex life during pregnancy is out of a very real fear that they'll hurt the baby. If you're concerned about that, you can stop worrying right now.

Your baby is surrounded and cushioned by amniotic fluid and protected by your partner's uterus and a layer of muscles. The mucous plug inside her cervix also helps to guard against possible infection. 

It might ease your mind to know that the baby is also totally oblivious to any lovemaking that might be going on.

Also read: 'It's normal': This study finds having less sex postpartum is a sign of a great relationship

Will her orgasm harm the baby?

No. Orgasms in late pregnancy could set off Braxton Hicks contractions (practice contractions which are quite uncomfortable, but not painful) if your partner is nearing the end of her pregnancy.

Again, labour and "real" contractions will only follow if the baby is ready to actually be born.

When to say no

No amount of sexual activity will harm your unborn child or trigger labour, so you can continue with an active sex life unless you have been told to stop because of a potential problem or pregnancy complication.

This includes a range of conditions such as placenta praevia which happens when the placenta is lying unusually low in the uterus, next to or covering the cervix.

Couples should also be cautious if there is a risk of premature labour. For example, if you start to have regular contractions which cause the cervix to begin to open or thin out (efface) before 37 weeks, you are in premature labour, in which case you should abstain from sex.

If you had a spontaneous premature birth in a previous pregnancy, your doctor will advise you to stop sex possibly for the whole pregnancy.

Other red flags include vaginal bleeding or abdominal cramping. Should you experience these symptoms, you need to call the doctor immediatel. It may not be serious, but it must be checked out.

Lastly, Cervical insufficiency could pose a threat to the unborn baby. If your cervix is softer and weaker than normal or is abnormally short, it may efface and dilate without contractions in the second or early in the third trimester as the weight of baby puts pressure on it. This is called an "incompetent cervix" and can result in second-trimester miscarriage, preterm premature rupture of the membranes (in which her water breaks before she is in labour), or preterm delivery (before 37 weeks).

If any problem persists, get it checked out, even if your partner may protest.

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