Sleep, Sex & Pregnancy

The hormonal changes and physical discomfort associated with pregnancy can affect a woman’s quality of sleep. Each trimester brings its own unique changes, including changes in sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the following are the most common sleep changes that might occur in each trimester:

First trimester

-You might wake more frequently to empty your bladder.
-You might experience disturbed sleep patterns resulting from physical and emotional changes in your life.
-You might feel very sleepy during some periods of the day as a result of disturbed sleep, and as a side effect of increased levels of the hormone progesterone.

Second trimester

You might feel more sleepy during the day, and have more restful periods of sleep at night than in your first trimester. Progesterone levels are still on the rise, but are rising more slowly than in the previous trimester.
You probably will find nighttime urination becoming less urgent as the growing fetus reduces pressure on the bladder by moving above it.
Your quality of sleep is still likely worse than it was before pregnancy due to general physical discomfort and emotional factors.

Third trimester

You are likely to experience the most sleep problems during this trimester.
You might feel uncomfortable in general as your belly increases in size and your weight increases.
Heartburn, leg cramps, and sinus congestion are common reasons you might be experiencing disturbed sleep during this trimester.
You probably will experience the return of frequent nighttime urination, as the baby’s position changes to put pressure on the bladder once again.
Getting enough sleep during pregnancy

If your sleep disturbances are severe, do not hesitate to ask your doctor to help you find solutions that will work for you. One or more of the following might help you get the sleep you need during pregnancy:

Pillows – Pillows can be used to support both the tummy and back. A pillow between the legs can help support the lower back and make sleeping on your side easier. Some specific types of pillows include the wedge-shaped pillow and the full-length body pillow.
Nutrition –Drinking a glass of warm milk might help bring on sleep. Foods high in carbohydrates, such as bread or crackers, can promote sleep. A snack high in protein can keep blood sugar levels up, and could help prevent bad dreams, headaches, and hot flashes.
Relaxation techniques –Relaxation techniques can help calm your mind and relax your muscles. These techniques include stretching and yoga, massage, and deep breathing.
Exercise— Regular exercise during pregnancy promotes your physical and mental health. Exercise also can aid in helping you sleep more deeply. Vigorous exercise within four hours of bedtime should be avoided.
Prescription and over-the-counter medicines— Ideally, all medicines should be avoided during pregnancy. Some medicines can hurt the developing baby. You should never take any medicines— including over-the-counter drugs —without first talking to your doctor.
What is the best position for sleeping and lying down?

The best lying or sleeping position might vary. No matter what position you lie in, a pillow should be under your head, but not your shoulders, and should be a thickness that allows your head to be in a normal position to avoid straining your back. You might also want to put a pillow between your legs for support.

Try to sleep in a position that helps you maintain the curve in your back (such as on your side with your knees slightly bent, with a pillow between your knees). Do not sleep on your side with your knees drawn up to your chest.

Select a firm mattress and box spring set that does not sag. If necessary, place a board under your mattress. You can also place the mattress on the floor temporarily if necessary.
If you have always slept on a soft surface, it might be more painful to change to a hard surface. Try to do what is most comfortable for you.

Try using a back support (lumbar support) at night to make you more comfortable. A rolled sheet or towel tied around your waist might be helpful.
When standing up from the lying position, turn on your side, draw up both knees and swing your legs on the side of the bed. Sit up by pushing yourself up with your hands.


Can I have sex during pregnancy without harming my baby?

Yes. There is no reason to change or alter your sexual activity during pregnancy unless your doctor advises otherwise. Intercourse or orgasm during pregnancy will not harm your baby, unless you have a medical problem. Remember that your baby is well protected in your uterus by the amniotic fluid that surrounds him or her.

Your doctor might recommend not having intercourse early in pregnancy if you have a history of miscarriages. Intercourse might also be restricted if you have certain complications of pregnancy, such as pre-term labor or bleeding. You might need to ask your doctor to clarify if this means no penetration, no orgasms, or no sexual arousal, as different complications might require different restrictions.

Comfort during intercourse

As your pregnancy progresses, changing positions might become necessary for your comfort. This might also be true after your baby is born.

A water-based lubricant may be used during intercourse if necessary.

During intercourse, you should not feel pain. During orgasm, your uterus will contract. Also, discontinue intercourse and call your the office immediately if you have heavy vaginal bleeding or if your water breaks. (Nothing should enter the vagina after your water breaks.)

Communicate with your partner

Talk to your partner. Tell your partner how you feel, especially if you have mixed feelings about sex during pregnancy. Encourage your partner to communicate with you, especially if you notice changes in your partner’s responsiveness. Communicating with your partner can help you both better understand your feelings and desires.

Will my desires change?

It is common for your desires to be different now that you are pregnant. Changing hormones cause some women to experience an increased sex drive during pregnancy, while others might not be as interested in sex as they were before they became pregnant.

During the first trimester, some women commonly lose interest in sex because they are tired and uncomfortable, while other women’s desires stay the same.

Take time for intimacy

If your doctor has limited your sexual activity, or if you are not in the mood for intercourse, remember to take time for intimacy with your partner. Being intimate does not require having intercourse. Love and affection can be expressed in many ways.

Remind yourselves of the love that created your developing baby. Enjoy your time together. You can take long romantic walks, enjoy candlelight dinners, or give each other back rubs.

How soon can I have sex after my baby is born?

In general, you can resume sexual activity when you have recovered, when your bleeding has stopped, and when you and your partner feel comfortable. Wait until after your first postpartum appointment before having intercourse with your partner.

After pregnancy, some women notice a lack of vaginal lubrication during intercourse. A water-based lubricant may be used during intercourse to decrease the discomfort of vaginal dryness.

Women who only feed their babies breast milk experience a delay in ovulation (when an egg is released from the ovary) and menstruation. But, ovulation will occur before you start having menstrual periods again, so remember that you can still become pregnant during this time. Follow your health care provider’s recommendations on the appropriate method of birth control