I've got ravenous cravings, unhinged mood swings, and debilitating aches and pains. I have to pee every ten minutes. I'm fatter than I've ever been. And my sex drive is through the roof.
I feared becoming pregnant might chill my interest in sex. Instead, the opposite has happened—over the past 34 weeks, I've become more sexual instead of less.
Admittedly, that first trimester—as for many couples—my sex life with my husband, Arran, took a dip. Married in September, we conceived in January, still on the cusp of our Honeymoon phase. But getting pregnant saw regular sex come to an abrupt end. Even though I had no real reason to worry, I was afraid sex might somehow dislodge that little sparkle of whatever was growing inside me. That, and my tits hurt. Like, a lot. I was nauseous, gassy and constipated, exhausted and emotional. Forget fucking, all I wanted to do was eat and sleep.
Initially, my fears about what pregnancy would do to my body seemed to be coming true: seemingly overnight and for the first time in my life, I had cellulite and a little pot belly. Doctors advise the average woman can expect to gain between one and five pounds in the first 12 weeks; I gained 20. Certainly, I couldn't blame it all on the baby who, at that time, was still the size of a pea.
By my second trimester, however, the early pregnancy symptoms had subsided, my weight gain slowed, and I developed a bonafide baby bump. By then, my breasts had swollen from a modest B to a generous C, which added a bit of fuel to my husband's already raging fire down below. Sure, the cellulite was still there, but I became less and less concerned about my dimpled ass and thighs as my growing belly balanced it out.
Eventually, I stopped worrying about how I looked completely and started enjoying how it felt. Missionary was pretty much off the table—you're not supposed to lie on your back after the second trimester—which made for a lot of doggy style and spooning. For adventurous pregnant couples, there's article after article recommending positions. Some are even studded with helpful illustrations.
Apparently, my experience liking sex while pregant isn't uncommon. According to a 2010 study published in the The Journal of Sexual Medicine, most women's desire for sex, as well as their sexual satisfaction, stays the same or increases during pregnancy. A libido surge is due, in part, to hormones. The "love hormone," oxytocin, increases muscle contractions during orgasms. Heightened estrogen levels lead to increased blood flow to the vaginal area, which can become engorged. These same hormones also increase vaginal discharge, all of which heightens sensation, often leading to more pleasurable sex.
Of course, it's sometimes the case that the opposite is true. For some, all this heightened sensitivity doesn't feel good, particularly in the first trimester. Others feel more sexually inhibited due to things like weight gain and other body image issues or just the weirdness of there being a future kid in there. Even though sex during pregnancy is generally considered safe, some parents-to-be worry it isn't, and doctors advise caution during the third trimester.
In certain circumstances, sex during pregnancy isn't advisable. Around week 26, I was put on "pelvic rest" when I noticed I was lightly bleeding after intercourse. Pelvic rest means different things in different circumstances. In our situation, some sexual activity was OK—just no penetration.
Because we were both nervous, my hubby and I took two weeks off everything. It was the longest we'd gone without intercourse, not counting instances when one or the other of us were traveling. During this time, we rediscovered the joys of non-sexual physical intimacy. We held hands, hugged and cuddled more than we had in years. One night, we swapped massages and felt no pressure for it to turn into something else. I became more sensitive to and appreciative of different kinds of touch. When we returned to sexual activity, we took it slow and explored all the stuff you can do besides penetration. At my next OB visit, we got the green light to return to "normal" sex.
For the most part, for me, pregnancy has been an embodying experience. I've spent the past eight months—I'm due at month's end—paying careful attention to my every physical development, cataloging daily symptoms and enjoying all the wonder and weirdness that comes with growing another human being. At times, I've felt out of control—which, when you're pregnant, is totally normal— and so I've had to learn to trust and listen to my body. I've also learned to better trust my partner, and he and I have grown even closer. Every morning when I wake up and look at my belly, I'm reminded that, together, my husband and I are having a baby. I think that's pretty fucking hot.
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