Sex, Sleep, and Your Pregnant Body

As you continue down the path of pregnancy, everything is changing, and it is doing so rapidly. For some, these changes feel exciting and new, met with ease and gratitude. For others, it can be easy to feel somewhat overwhelmed by your body’s changes physically, mentally, emotionally, and hormonally. You are not alone if this is you. So deep breaths through the transition and any discomfort you feel. It is okay that everything feels big right now.

Sex is a big topic of conversation regarding changes during pregnancy. For some, their libido increases, making everything hotter, more enjoyable, and more intense; for others, their libido goes down with all the changes occurring in their body, the breaks go on, and their sexual desires dive. Although these are two completely different responses to pregnancy and everything that it brings, both sexual preferences are entirely normal and acceptable. If sex isn’t on the table most nights during your pregnancy, meet it with neutrality. You don’t have to love it, but fighting it will cause more problems, and acceptance is the only way out. A great book entitled “Come as You Are” by Emily Nagoski takes a deeper dive into the breaks and accelerators that lead to or deter sex. If sex is something you want and is missing, you might find some new ideas to get back to the sexuality you feel good about.

Often partners wonder if sex is safe during pregnancy, my favorite question being, “Can I poke the baby?” Which, of course, is, no, no, you will not poke the baby. 

The answer to whether sex is safe is yes. In most cases, sex is safe. Unless your care provider has put you on pelvic rest, sex is safe, and orgasms are a great way to strengthen and tone the pelvic floor. If you are at the end of your pregnancy, the prostaglandins in sperm can help prepare for labor, and in some cases, it can even make it start. Most kinks are safe if they don’t put the pregnant person or baby in harm’s way, and even BDSM can be safe as long as some modifications are made. If you struggle to sleep, sex and orgasm can naturally help relax and exhaust your body to aid in a good night’s rest. This leads us to the next topic, sleep.

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Sleep during pregnancy can be difficult when you wake up twenty times a night to pee, feel baby kicks all night long, and feel uncomfortable because of all the changes in your body. It is difficult to rest well while pregnant, and some individuals experience things like prenatal insomnia or restless leg syndrome, which can be exhausting and debilitating. Pregnancy pillows can provide much more comfort if body pains keep you from sleeping. Combining pregnancy pillows and some self-care practices like chiropractic care, yoga or stretching, and massages can also help with the discomforts of pregnancy.

For those who experience prenatal insomnia or restless leg syndrome, there are some herbal and medical options to try and help with sleep. Although not possible for everyone, some pregnant individuals sleep better during the daytime when taking a nap than at night. If you can get some sleep, take the sleep you can get. Talking to your medical care provider is an excellent option if lack of sleep is causing a disturbance to your day in any way. We need rest to function; mental, physical, and emotional health can go downhill quickly without it. Reaching out for resources and support is vital in working through sleepless nights and exhausting days.

Lastly, your body is changing, and it is doing so at a rapid rate. This can leave people feeling an extreme lack of control, and that feeling can be scary. Working toward meeting these changes and that lack of control with neutrality is an excellent practice throughout pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and beyond. For some, it is easiest to do this with affirmations such as “My body is changing in healthy and safe ways,” or “My body is growing my baby perfectly.” For others, doing breathwork, looking at their body, and expressing gratitude for what it is doing to support this pregnancy can help. Even getting maternity photos taken can be a great way to accept these changes neutrally; for some, it even allows them to celebrate the changes. 

Whatever way you find yourself meeting your body’s changes with neutrality and acceptance is the correct way to do it. Acceptance and neutrality are forms of self-love and a gift you can give yourself during this pregnancy. Remember that neutral acceptance does not mean you are not seeking out resources when things are tough. It simply means that you are accepting what this pregnancy has brought and the actions you can take to work on it. So, whether your libido is high or low, whether your sleep is deep or lacking, and whether you like the changes your body is going through, meet it with neutrality and know that in doing so, you are practicing self-love.

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