So, you might not be able to have sex in the missionary position for several months, but that’s OK. There’s plenty of other sexual positions you can pull off for that post-orgasm glow.
After all, sex is about enjoying the body, intimacy, and closeness. And if you’re worried penetrative sex might hurt the baby (it won’t), there are still other ways around that!
“Sex is much more than penetration,” confirms Holly Richmond, a clinical sex therapist and licensed marriage and family therapist. Intimacy comes in plenty of forms, including kissing, breast pleasure, oral sex, fantasy, and even anal sex.
“Oral and manual [acts done with your hands] sex are wonderful components to a couple’s sex life. Read up on oral sex techniques. Play with some new toys. If anything doesn’t feel right, ask your doctor.”
Positions to avoid
- Missionary position (man on top, woman on bottom) can compress blood flow to mom and baby, particularly after the 20th week.
- Some women find prone positions, or lying flat on the stomach, uncomfortable.
- As noted by every doctor and pregnancy book you’ll ever read, don’t blow air up there.
Think of pregnancy as a time to experiment, especially in the earlier months, to figure out the ideal position between you and your partner. And pretty much anything goes as long as it’s comfortable.
Still, you may have questions about how to adjust for maximum abdominal comfort when engaging with your partner. We’ll walk you through it — with visuals!
This position is often cited by sex educators as a popular option for all kinds of partners. Up on all fours, this position keeps pressure off the belly, allowing the pregnant partner to stay more comfortable.
“Using pillows, blankets, or towels to add comfort is a great idea,” says Shanna Katz Kattari, a sexologist and instructor at the University of Michigan School of Social Work.
Controlling the depth of penetration is also important, Richmond points out. “Sometimes in that position with the curvature of the back, [the pregnant partner] can feel the penis hitting the cervix,” which may be uncomfortable.
Trimester: First and beginning of second. By the end of the second trimester, there’s about an extra two pounds around your belly. You may want to avoid balancing on all fours during your last two months.
Climb aboard! This position is supported by science, too — at least one Taiwanese study found increased sexual satisfaction for pregnant women who control penetration by being on top of the partner.
Adjust for comfort by widening your stance or leaning back to keep belly weight from tilting you forward.
Trimester: First and second trimester. This position helps with hitting the right spots in the vagina. However, during the third trimester, you may want to avoid deep penetration, especially if you’re sensitive down there and want to avoid irritating the cervix or accidental bleeding.
“Spooning is awesome,” Richmond says. It’s a comforting position where the partner holds and usually penetrates the pregnant partner from behind while lying down, both facing away from each other.
But whether you’re penetrating or not, always touch the clitoris as that’s where the pleasure center is. In later trimesters, it may be comforting to hold the belly.
Trimester: Always good, but best during second and third as this position can help put less pressure on the belly.
Reverse cowgirl involves you, or the pregnant partner, straddling the other and is a good option in the first and second trimesters, Richmond says. Be sure to keep up the clitoral stimulation in this position.
However, it can be challenging later on when your belly becomes a challenge. If this position is one of your favorites, you may be able to adjust the weight by leaning back and positioning your arms behind you for support.
Trimester: Great anytime, but during the second and third trimesters, you’ll love this position as it can keep your stomach from being compressed — or touched, if you’re sensitive there.
If under 20 weeks, a standing position works if your partner is holding you around the waist.
“After 20 weeks, the abdominal distention could cause more balance problems and difficulty with position,” she says, which poses a risk of falling. The pregnant partner might place palms against a wall, and lean in for stability. But seek solid ground.
“I don’t recommend standing on anything, again for security and stability purposes,” she says. “No yoga blocks, no chairs, no ladders.”
Trimester: Experiment with this during the first and second trimesters, but as your belly grows, you may find it more difficult to hold this position. If it’s pleasurable for your partner, you could find a way to incorporate it near the end of intercourse.
“A pregnant person might enjoy sex in the bathtub, where they can float while giving or receiving pleasure,” Katz Kattari says. Buoyancy helps a belly defy gravity — a nice option when you’re 8 months along.
Depending on the size of your tub, you may not be able to float completely, so your partner can help the experience. Have them lie under you for support and let their hands stimulate your sensitive areas for pleasure. If using toys, be sure to use water-safe lube.
Trimester: This works for all trimesters. However, during the third trimester, when you’re more sensitive and libido is low, this position is a comforting one where orgasms don’t have to be the end game. This can simply just be about caring for each other in a sensual way.
Couples of all types can enjoy seated intercourse, where the pregnant person sits on a chair or on the edge of the bed, positioning themselves above their partner. You can also prop yourself up with pillows, or lie on your back earlier in pregnancy, or if comfortable.
“Their partner can then have easy access for fingers, toys, and mouths,” Katz Kattari says. “Either by kneeling in front of pregnant person, or pulling up a chair next to them and going to town.”
Trimester: All trimesters! This position is great for letting the body and belly rest.
Yes, giving or getting oral sex is fine, says Aleece Fosnight, MSPAC, PA-C, CSC, CSE. It doesn’t matter if you swallow if you’re giving oral sex to a partner with a penis — it won’t affect the baby. And if you’re receiving oral sex, it won’t affect the developing baby, especially in the last trimester.
Moreover, it’s a pleasant alternative to penetrative sex if you’re just not up for it. However, if giving oral sex to a partner with a penis, be aware that during the first trimester, you may have a heightened gag reflex due to morning sickness.
Trimester: Good for all trimesters, even when you’re not pregnant. While clitoral stimulation is one of the more reliable paths to orgasm, not all sex needs to end in an orgasm. Sex is about physical intimacy, whether there’s penetration or not, or orgasms or not.
Yes, anal sex is safe during pregnancy and can be performed with your partner at your rear or while spooning. Doggy style, or entering from behind, would be the best for anal sex during pregnancy. You can also do this while spooning too.
It’s best if you try this position early on, before pregnancy, to see how comfortable you are with anal sex.
Anal sex recommendations
- Go slow and prepare with foreplay for at least 10 to 15 minutes.
- Use lube, especially during pregnancy.
- Wear a condom for extra protection against bacteria and STIs.
Trimester: This position works for all trimesters. However, you’ll want to be extremely careful. Don’t move fingers, toys, tongue, or penis from butt to vagina. Doing so can spread bacteria to the vagina, which could complicate pregnancy.
It’s similar to spooning, except you’re facing each other.
“For any pregnant person, positions on their side will feel better, and they can prop up their bellies with extra pillows or a rolled-up towel,” Katz Kattari says. “These side positions can be used for penetrative sex with hands and toys, as well as for both giving and receiving oral sex.”
Meaning you can turn around and try 69 if that’s something you like.
Trimester: Good for all, best for third as it allows for you or your pregnant partner to rest on your sides without putting the pressure on the stomach — or on each other!
If you’re not feeling too hot or up for foreplay, there’s also a magical wand you can wave — the one with batteries.
“Top toys always include the Magic Wand and the Wevibe,” says Rosara Torrisi, a sex therapist and founder of the Long Island Institute of Sex Therapy.
“All toys, so long as the materials are body safe and high quality and cleaned appropriately, are safe during pregnancy unless otherwise directed by a trusted medical professional who knows you and your pregnancy.”
So yes — vibrators, dildos, insertables, balls, G-spot stimulators, strap-ons and anything else you’ve got in your joybox is fine, as long as you keep equipment super extra amazing clean.
If you’re buying new props, aim to get one made from higher-grade materials such as glass, silicone, or body-safe latex.
Due to clitoral sensitivity, you may wish to play with intensity and speed. Some women find the Magic Wand and other high-powered vibrators too intense, Richmond says.
A mirror can be helpful too, Richmond says
“By the end of pregnancy, you probably won’t be able to see your feet, so finding your vulva [can be] really challenging. Using a mirror to see what’s going on is always a great idea, but right now during pregnancy sex, you’ll get an even better view of what’s happening.”
Many women use pillows for support, but may find rigid foam wedges difficult to manage along with a semi-rigid stomach. A Boppy (yes, the nursing pillow) can be used for bumptastic sex — the hole in the center helps make your belly more comfortable, says Fosnight.
“Everything is on the table unless your doctor says it isn’t, or if it hurts or feels uncomfortable,” Richmond reminds.
That means if one of the positions above are aren’t as comfy as advertised, just skip it. There’s nine more to try.
For more pregnancy guidance on sex, relationships, and more, sign up for our I’m Expecting newsletter.
Lora Shinn is a Seattle-based writer focused on health, travel, education, and sustainability.