When You’re 37 Weeks Pregnant and Sexually Active

If you’re healthy, sex can be safe in the third trimester. But you’ll need to experiment with positions that work for both of you and are comfortable.

Although some people worry that sex can bring on labor, research hasn’t found a link for normal, complication-free pregnancies. But good communication between partners is key.

It’s OK

The good news is that sex at 37 weeks pregnant is generally safe if your pregnancy is healthy and you are not in the high-risk category. However, positions that were fine before pregnancy or during the second trimester may not be comfortable now, since you are putting extra pressure on major blood vessels as your baby grows bigger.

The most important thing to remember is to use protection, especially if you have a partner with a compromised immune system. Having sex without barrier protection can cause sexually transmitted infections that may hurt your baby.

Having sex at this point of the pregnancy doesn’t hurt the baby, who is well protected by the muscular walls of your uterus and cushioned by the amniotic fluid inside. The opening of your cervix is blocked by a mass of mucous, called a mucus plug, which also provides some protection.

It’s normal for your libido to change throughout pregnancy. Many women find that they have the least amount of sex during the third trimester, partly because their bodies are so big, but it’s not necessarily a sign of anything serious. Instead, try other ways to feel close to your partner – cuddling, massages, and kissing are all great alternatives. Just be sure to talk openly about this with your partner, so they know how you’re feeling and can support you.

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You’ll need to change your position

When you’re 37 weeks pregnant and sexually active, you may find that certain sex positions that were perfectly fine before pregnancy become uncomfortable or even unsafe this late in the game. For example, lying flat on your back for too long at this point can put pressure on large blood vessels (abdominal part of the aorta and vena cava inferior) that are near the uterus.

To avoid this, have your partner enter you from the rear, O’Reilly says. This position “allows for variation in penetration depth, speed and rhythm,” she adds. You and your partner can also try side by side or spooning sex positions, which are less likely to place pressure on the bump.

Rear-entry also puts little pressure on the cervix, which can be sensitive at this stage of the pregnancy. Plus, it can give you an orgasmic response that’s different than if your partner entered you from the front.

Of course, it’s always important to use condoms in any sex activity, regardless of the position you are in. That’s to protect yourself and your baby from sexually transmitted infections, including chlamydia, herpes, and genital warts. You should also make sure to tell your doctor about any heavy bleeding after sex or a loss of your mucus plug. This could indicate that your water has broken or that you’re having real labor contractions.

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You might spot

Despite what you may have heard, sex in late pregnancy is usually safe. It can actually help labor along if you’re not too far past your due date, because orgasm releases oxytocin and the semen in sex contains high concentrations of prostaglandins. However, spotting after sex can be a sign of something more serious and should always be followed by a call to your doctor. Heavy bleeding after sex could be a sign of uterine prolapse, a hematoma, or placenta previa, which is when the placenta lies too low in your womb, covering all or part of your cervix and causing serious complications.

Another thing to watch out for: if you experience painless, short-lived pinkish or brownish spotting after sex, it’s normal. It’s likely that your cervix is more sensitive to irritation at this point, and it’s a sign of the changes happening in preparation for delivery.

You might start noticing leaky breasts or stains on your clothing, too, and that’s also perfectly normal. You can try putting a pad in your bra or switching to nursing pads. You might also notice more gas and bloating, because your baby is now crowding your stomach and intestines. That can cause constipation, diarrhea, and even blood in your stool, so be sure to talk to your doctor if it’s getting serious.

You’ll feel antsy

At 37 weeks, baby is getting crowded and you might feel an urge to clean and organize as part of your nesting instinct. It’s good to get things ready for baby, but be careful not to overdo it. Too much physical activity can lead to swelling in your feet, ankles and hands. This is due to fluid retention and slowed circulation. Drink plenty of water and try to sit or walk around for a while if you start to experience this symptom.

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Your hormones are changing to prep for delivery, which can also make your libido change. You may have peaks and valleys in desire, depending on the day and your other pregnancy symptoms. The extra estrogen and progesterone that are boosting your breasts can give you more pleasure, as can the fact that your vulva is engorged from all that extra blood flow. Orgasms are also very pleasurable and can help you prepare for labor by tightening your pelvic floor muscles.

In a study, women who had sex at the end of their pregnancies delivered sooner and had less need for labor induction than those who didn’t. However, this isn’t a surefire way to induce labor, as the baby can still decide to stay put for a while longer. If you are experiencing a sudden onset of labor signs like a bloody show or ruptured membranes, call your doctor right away.

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