Keeping Intimacy Alive if You're Pregnant or Trying to Conceive

As women, we go through many transitions not only from day to day but month to month like when we have our periods, and also on a larger scale through our own personal seasons. Pregnancy is also one of the times of big seasonal changes within your body and it is important to be aware of and honor the transitions or your body. Being aware allows you to understand the impacts on your sexual self. I want to break this transitional time down into the five seasons around pregnancy so that you can be more aware of what’s going on in your body so you can honor yourself and your intimate relationship with your partner.

Season 1: Trying to Get Pregnant

Although this is a time when you aren’t already pregnant, this pre-pregnancy time starts the first season of your pregnancy and is a big transitional time. This season often gets neglected when talking about pregnancy and your relationship because typically the talk goes to during pregnancy and beyond; however when trying to conceive the mind shift can have an impact on intimacy. During this time it might start as something really exciting or scary/exciting when you have the idea of either starting a family or adding to your already existing family.

I want you to be aware however that although being pregnant and having kids will have a big impact on you and your relationship, the time when you were trying to get pregnant can also have the same impact. One of the reasons is that having sex can easily become a sense of obligation and systemized based on when you are ovulating. It can become military-like of “Ovulating now, must have sex now!”. What this puts onto the relationship is actually something we want to remove and that is pressure. The pressure is like having a big elephant stomp right onto the sexual side of your relationship. This sense of pressure and anxiety can increase as the time trying to get pregnant increases and options like IVF enter the picture.

I understand that when you were trying to get pregnant you do need to be more aware of your cycle and when you’re ovulating so that you can optimize on the best times to try to get pregnant. But we don’t want that focus to hold intimacy hostage. To avoid this getting pregnant trap of taking the fun away from intimacy, I want you to also allow times when there is no focus or pressure on trying to get pregnant. When you are doing your weekly intentional intimacy times together make sure there is a time when maybe you even leave penetration out of the picture. This allows you a little bit more play and pleasure with intimacy so it doesn’t become all about getting pregnant.

Season 2: Trimester One

Once you are pregnant you are now entering into trimester one of your pregnancy. For many women, this is a time when your energy is completely zapped and that nausea feeling or being wrapped around the toilet is so not sexy. I have heard from many women and my friends and family group and also those that I have worked with that this is the time when energy battery is very low. Which makes sense because your body is adjusting to literally providing a life for an entire other being. That’s a big responsibility and shift in your body’s way of operating in the world. During this time it is best to allow and give permission for that lower energy. 

Be careful, though, that your relationship doesn’t become deprioritized. Stick with those weekly intimate connections with your partner and be cognizant of your energy and what you can say yes to that week. Your low energy shift doesn’t need to necessarily mean intimacy goes away it’s just going to have more of a lower energy feel to that connection. It’s also good practice to prioritize your relationship amid exhaustion and low energy because when your future kiddo comes along, you’ll also have your energy resources pulled. Practicing now means you will have a good system in place for when baby comes along.

Season 3: Trimester Two

As you enter the second trimester your baby is now the size of a peach. Silly we compare to fruit but it’s a good reference! The fatigue and morning sickness for many women ebbs as your little peach grows into this time of your pregnancy. Your growing belly, increased blood flow and hormonal changes not only boosts energy but also often increases arousal and desire. Even though you’re growing body might have an impact on your overall body confidence and comfort sleeping, which impact your overall sexual self, try to capitalize on the higher energy that your body is giving you to be more available and physically intimate with your partner.

Keep in mind that the changing hormones of the first trimester might actually impact your sexual energy in a positive way rather than bringing on fatigue or nausea. So although many women feel their sexual energy bump up in trimester two, you may have felt that more in trimester one. The world of women isn’t black and white and most certainly not in pregnancy. It’s best to be aware of the changes that generally can happen and then tune in and check with yourself about where you are at. Any concerning changes certainly warrant a chat with your medical doctor. 

Season 4: Trimester Three

Woah nelly that belly is getting big isn’t it? How wonderful as your baby is also growing and getting ready to enter into the world. During this time your sexual desire is likely to take a dip from the increase you experiences either in the first or second trimester. Nothing to worry about though! Understandably your body will feel awkward and a bit uncomfortable, not to mention the constant need to pee! You may feel a growing sense of self-consciousness as well which will have a negative impact on your sexual self. Your focus is also understandably going to be on your new baby and sex will take a bit of a push to the back seat as a result. You may be thinking “Who has time for sex when the baby room needs to be painted?!”.

Also, penetration sex can feel uncomfortable given certain positions and if going too deep. Make adjustments where you need to! This is also another great opportunity to practice not putting your relationship too far to the bottom of the list by instead continuing to prioritize your relationship and choosing the intimate activities that honor your body as well as your relationship. Remember to focus on the pleasure and what you can say yes too while remembering that you can always raincheck if you need to. It’s all about awareness and being in tune with what is going on with you and communicating that to your partner. 

Season 5: Postpartum 

Woo hoo, you had a baby! Whether you have a vaginal birth or a C-section your body just went through a humongous change and it needs some time to re-calibrate and then return to its homeostasis without being in baby-making mode. This means that you won’t be able to have penetrative sex for least six weeks and perhaps longer. Your body may also be going through a lot of changes as well as your mind. You brought a whole other little being into the world and you are in mega Mom mode and you want to make sure that this little baby stays alive. 

Focus is going to be a lot on baby. As a result, a lot of your energy resources is going toward that little baby not only emotionally but also physically. You are also getting a lot of your bonding needs met during this time either during mega cuddles or breast-feeding if that’s something you choose to do. What all of this means is that your partner and your relationship can easily be put on the way way back corner which is not where we want it to be (are you sensing a theme here?). Yes, learning to take care of a tiny human will mean that the relationship-focus might need to ease up on the gas a bit but we don’t want to take things completely off of the pedal. So as you are honoring your baby and your own body make sure you are also honoring the relationship with your partner by attending to the physical side of the relationship and also the emotional side using the five love languages. This might mean for a while after giving birth what you can say yes to physically is a little massage or a naked cuddle in bed. And it might mean you will need to use a few rainchecks, and that’s OK too.

Overall I want you to be gentle on yourself and know that when trying to get pregnant, through pregnancy and beyond because you and your relationship are going through huge transitions. Know this and also know that you still need to be intentional about your relationship and certainly not in any sort of perfection. if you aren’t intentional about your relationship then the closeness can easily go away. This is when couples have kids, all their energy is on the kids and none gets put toward the relationship, and their kids go off to college and all of a sudden they both turn and look at each other and the divide and disconnection has been so great for so long that they have no idea who the other person is or who they are in connection to their partner. To avoid this, make sure you set aside your intentional intimacy time and use your rain check if you need to and be gentle on yourself as a human and as a mom. You aren’t going to get it all done perfectly but this is not about perfection but about progress in moving forward through life with ease and with intentionality.