In the third trimester, your baby thrashes, kicks, and generally uses your uterus like its their own personal trampoline. They hiccup, wiggle, and jump when you startle, and every day it's becoming more clear: there's a little person in there. Even if you enjoyed sex throughout your pregnancy, anxiety naturally spikes as you near the finish line, and many couples become concerned about intimacy. How close to your due date can you have sex?
Of course, it's crucial to consult your doctor. Late in the third trimester, you're probably seeing them every week, right? As long as they give the OK, you can have sex on your due date, and after. In fact, many women hope late pregnancy sex will help move things along, though the evidence that either orgasms or prostaglandins in semen stimulate labor is sparse, according to a 2001 Cochrane Systematic Review. But don't feel any pressure to have sex for that reason — or any other. If you don't feel comfortable having sex so late in pregnancy, for whatever reason, be aware of your body, and just do you.
"When your doctor says you're free to go at it as you'd like, I want to very clearly let everyone know that a pregnant body is a shifting body," says Dr. Rosara Torrisi, PhD, of The Long Island Institute of Sex Therapy in an interview with Romper. "A position that worked a week ago may now suddenly be uncomfortable. And that is just fine. You have something growing inside of you, pushing your organs and muscles in odd directions, placing pressure on your pelvis or lungs."
Breast tenderness also changes, notes Torrisi, and while increased blood flow to the genitals can be pleasurable, it can also be just plain irritating. So don't feel you have to master the kama sutra right now. Just know that without medical contradictions, sexual intimacy is totally safe, even if your baby's birthday comes tomorrow.
Because the final weeks of pregnancy are so intense, both physically and emotionally, Torrisi suggests that couples restart body explorations — you know, the gentle, is-this-OK foreplay you engaged in back when your baby wasn't yet a twinkle on the horizon. Reconnecting intimately with your partner can be a powerful way to prepare for your new life — one in which you'll need each other more than ever. Torrisi enthuses, "What a great moment. Just before baby arrives (who is going to zap out a bunch of that erotic energy), you can reinvigorate your sex life."
If penetration makes you uncomfortable at 40 weeks, try something new. "Oral and manual (hands) sex are wonderful components to a couple's sex life throughout their years together. Read up on oral sex techniques." Torrisi cautions that if you feel any discomfort, you should give your doctor a call.
The bottom line is that as long as you're healthy and feeling up for it, sex during pregnancy is safe right up until the day you go into labor — with one exception. After your water breaks, sex is off the table, because of the risk of infection, noted Mayo Clinic. Otherwise, let the good times roll — if you want to — and remember that late pregnancy sex should be intimate, communicative, and hopefully memorable. Because nothing kills your libido like sleep deprivation and a newborn, that I can say for sure.