Remember that sex scene in Knocked Up—the one where Seth Rogen worries his penis is going to poke his unborn child in the face?
It’s funny, but it’s also on point. While sex may seem routine during the first few months of your partner’s pregnancy, it’s natural for you to feel some anxiety when her belly starts growing.
But have no fear.
“No matter how large you are or how hard you thrust, [your penis] will never directly hurt the baby,” says Barb DePree, M.D., an OB/GYN at Lakeshore Health Partners in Zeeland, Michigan.
Some men also report a fear that their unborn baby will somehow be emotionally traumatized by sex. Wrong again.
“There is no science or studies to show this,” DePree says. “Think of it this way—the happier you can keep the mom during a pregnancy, the better off everybody is.”
But just because pregnant sex is safe doesn’t mean it’s simple. There are a few obstacles an expectant dad and his pregnant partner are likely to encounter.
Here’s how to handle them.
SHE FEELS SELF-CONSCIOUS ABOUT HER BODY
Your biggest obstacle might not be her bulging belly—but her mindset.
Especially later in pregnancy, the weight and shape your partner takes on to accommodate your babe may lead her to feel embarrassed or unsexy.
It’s your job to put her mind at ease, says Shareen Hariri, a licensed marriage and sex therapist based in Los Angeles. That means showering her with compliments.
“Tell her she’s beautiful, tell her she’s sexy,” Hariri advises. “Focus on that pregnancy glow she has, or how much you love her fuller breasts or butt.”
Maybe most importantly, tell her after sex that it was amazing—that you loved the feel of her body. In this case, flattery will get you everywhere.
While some women experience greater vaginal lubrication during pregnancy, others may be dryer than usual. Don’t take it personally.
“Lubrication in pregnancy can be a little bit variable,” DePree says.
Dryness issues may also be tied to your girl’s emotions. DePree says your partner may be feeling anxious about sex, which can affect her ability to “fully lubricate” naturally.
Again, assure her it’s not a big deal. Follow these guidelines to choose the ideal lube for any sexual activity.
You may not be getting much oral sex during her first trimester, and you need to be cool with that.
The first trimester is the time when women tend to experience “morning sickness,” which doesn’t just happen during the morning. Certain smells and tastes can make her feel nauseous at any time with little warning.
“Oral can get unsexy real fast,” Hariri says.
While you may have to go without blow jobs for a while, feel free to keep pleasuring your partner. In fact, consider doing it more than usual. You owe her.
From the second trimester through the end of her pregnancy, your partner’s belly may make all but a few sex positions uncomfortable.
“Let her lead and ask her what she likes,” Hariri advises. “But be aware that what’s comfortable one day might not be the next day because the baby is always moving, and her body is constantly changing.”
One sex position that a lot of pregnant women enjoy is woman on top, a.k.a. “cowgirl.”
Another idea: Grab a chair. “If he’s sitting in a chair and she’s on top, she can control the depth and motion,” Hariri says.
Some women pass more gas than usual or have bladder control issues during pregnancy. Yes, this can happen during sex.
“You have to laugh it off,” Hariri says.
Also, it’s common for men to feel nervous or anxious during pregnant sex. That can lead to erection problems.
“It happens and it’s normal,” Hariri says.
Tell her you’re just nervous, and—can’t stress this enough—reiterate that she looks super hot. You don’t want her to think her body changes are killing your boner.
Your semen contains prostaglandins, which can trigger changes within your partner’s cervix that can get labor going, DePree explains.
if she’s at elevated risk for a pre-term birth—your doctor will let you know if that’s the case—you’ll want to wear a condom to ensure your semen doesn’t initiate labor too soon, DePree adds.