Bed rest. These are two words a pregnant woman doesn’t want to hear. You’re typically placed on bed rest for a high-risk pregnancy, so this immediately makes you worry about your future child’s safety. Not to mention there are the obvious annoyances that come with being confined to your mattress — work logistics, childcare help, and mind-numbing boredom, just to name a few (Believe it not, the novelty of Netflix binges has a cap.) You can think of one way to pass the time, but that leads you to wonder is it safe to have sex while you’re on bed rest?

I mean — you know you’re not supposed to do anything “strenuous,” and you’re totally okay with someone else taking out the trash and running errands, but what about your raging pregnancy libido? What if you just lay there and let your partner (or a vibrator) do all the work?

Obviously this is something you should ask your doctor. According to Fit Pregnancy, more than 70,000 pregnant women in the United States are put on bed rest each year, but that term can range anywhere from “take it easy” to “here, use this bedpan.” Some women have to rest their pelvic region specifically, and pelvic rest basically means avoiding sex. And other women are on bed rest to help prevent early labor — so doing something known to induce labor probably isn’t the best idea. Only your doctor can tell you what is or isn’t safe, but most women on bed rest shouldn’t get their hopes up. According to the University Of Washington Medical Center Bed Rest Guidelines, not only is sex off the table, but so is nipple or breast fondling, or any kind of sexual stimulation whatsoever. The UWMC guidelines also say to not to put anything in your vagina unless your doctor gives you the green light.

So that’s a bummer. And yet it is possible to keep intimacy alive without jeopardizing your health, even if sleeping next to your partner can sometimes feel like a torturous exercise in self-control.

“Keep communicating with your partner and share intimacy that is non-sexual,” Cheryl McKeekan, sex and relationship therapist, tells us. “The point is to stay connected emotionally and physically. You could share foot or back rubs for example, while chatting about how you are both feeling about the process you are going through.” McKeekan also suggests other types of physical touching — like foot rubs, kissing, cuddling, and holding hands — to maintain your bond. Because even if that touching never leads to orgasm, intimacy doesn’t have to be put on bed rest.

Image: Courtesy of Michelle Horton