Once you discover you’re expecting, chances are, you’ll be flooded with advice on everything from planning for labor and breast/chestfeeding to babyproofing your home and stocking up on baby essentials. Unfortunately, you’re not always given guidance to prepare for sex and intimacy during pregnancy. This might leave you with unanswered questions like “will sex harm my baby?” and “is there anything I should avoid?” The good news is we’ve got the answers to your most asked questions and concerns about sex during pregnancy to help you keep things safe and spicy over the next nine months!

Is sex during pregnancy safe?

Research shows that having sex and using sex toys during pregnancy is safe during low-risk pregnancies until your water breaks, unless your doctor or midwife has advised you to abstain. In a healthy pregnancy, sexual activities and orgasms won’t increase your chances of miscarriage or preterm labor. Additionally, thanks to your cervix (the solid barrier between your vagina and the uterus), penises and sex toys can’t penetrate beyond your vagina, so rest assured, it’s impossible for you to poke your baby. Be sure to speak with your prenatal provider about whether or not sex during pregnancy is safe for your needs and health history. If your provider recommends steering clear of sex at any point during your pregnancy, it’s important to ask clarifying questions to understand what sexual activities are off the table. For instance, your provider might ask you to avoid penetration, but clitoral rubbing and licking might be considered acceptable.

Will my sexual desire change?

It’s completely normal and expected for your sexual desire and arousal to fluctuate during pregnancy due to changes in your body, energy levels, and feelings of comfort. You might find increased interest in partnered or solo sex during your entire pregnancy, or sex might be the last thing on your mind. Or you might find yourself extra horny in your second trimester and too uncomfortable for sex in the third trimester. Trust me, you’re not alone. All of these experiences are normal and totally valid. If partnered sex sounds unappealing, there are plenty of other intimate acts you might choose to engage in to maintain closeness with your partner(s), like sensual massages, deep kissing, cuddling, mutual masturbation, and showering together. Ultimately, open and honest communication with your partner(s) to ensure everyone’s needs are heard and respected is important.

Are there any positions or sexual activities I should avoid?

In general, providers consider most positions and sex acts in low-risk pregnancies fair game, with a few exceptions:

  • Prenatal providers discourage sex acts where the pregnant person is lying flat on their back in the later stages of pregnancy. Studies show the weight of the growing uterus can interrupt blood flow to the pregnant person and the baby in this position.
  • Lick but don’t blow. Partners should avoid blowing air into the pregnant person’s vagina during oral favors to reduce the risk of an air embolism, a rare but serious complication.
  • It’s totally fine if you want to have anal sex, just keep in mind anal sex immediately followed by vaginal sex can introduce bacteria into the vagina. If you engage in anal sex with a penis, finger, or sex toy, clean it thoroughly before inserting it into the vagina (try this no fuss cleansing mist to clean your toys).
  • Protecting yourself from STIs is important to keep your baby healthy. That’s why providers recommend against unprotected sex with multiple non-monogamous partners or a new partner with an unknown sexual history. So, if you’re pregnant and have a new beau, use a barrier method like a condom on their penis or sex toys. Encourage your partner to get tested if they are unaware of their status. Further, if your partner has an active outbreak of an STI like herpes, your healthcare provider will likely suggest postponing oral sex. Discuss your partner’s sexual history with your provider to determine the best path for keeping your baby safe.

What are the best sex positions during pregnancy?

Truth is, the “best” positions for you will be very personal. Your comfort might change as your pregnant belly grows, meaning positions that normally make your eyes roll back might not feel so great during all three trimesters. You’ll likely need to explore different positions to find what feels pleasurable and works best for you and your partner(s) as you navigate your pregnancy. Think of it like a rotating sex buffet. You try out multiple positions that sound drool-worthy and ditch the ones that fall short. Be open to creativity in your positions, and don’t be afraid to use props like pillows and cushions for extra comfort between your knees or under your belly and handrails for stability when standing or kneeling. And lubricant is your friend! Some pregnant people experience vaginal dryness during pregnancy from hormonal changes, so a water-based lube can help keep things sensual and slippery. And with that, here are six positions for you and your partner(s) to try:

Side by side

Lie on your side with your partner behind you, with both of you facing the same direction. Bend your knees slightly and move your butt closer to your partner, so they can enter you with their penis, fingers, or a sex toy. You and your partner can rock back and forth or try grinding on your partner. This position is super comfy during the later stages of pregnancy because it keeps pressure off your belly, isn’t too deep, and is low effort for when you’re in the mood but feeling low on energy. Plus, there’s easy access for you or your partner(s) to stimulate your clitoris with or without penetration, so what’s not to love? Place a pillow between your knees or under your hips for added support. If you prefer to be behind your partner, angle your body to leave more space for your belly.

On edge

Have your partner sit on the edge of the bed and lower yourself on their lap, facing away (you can also sit between their legs if you’re not interested in penetration or if lap sitting feels uncomfortable). You have multiple options in this position, including spreading your legs for your partner to touch your clitoris and nipples, grinding on your partner, or all of the above! To flip this position, sit on the edge of the bed with your partner on your lap, and go to town! To keep pressure off your belly, have your partner lean slightly forward (or feel free to lean back against a few pillows to prop you up).

From behind (aka doggy style)

While on all fours, have your partner kneel behind you and enter you from behind. As a bonus, this position also gives your partner easy access to touch and rub other erotic spots on your body, with or without penetration! For added comfort, try placing pillows or a cushion under your belly.

On top

Have your partner lie on their back with their knees bent or straight and straddle their pelvis or leg. You can grind or slide up and down on your partner in this position while controlling the speed! To give you added support, rest your hands on your headboard, a handrail, or your partner’s chest (if that feels good for them). If you prefer to be the one on the bottom, keep this position to the earlier stages of your pregnancy to avoid laying flat on your back after week 20.

Face off

Both you and your partner sit with your legs bent, leaning back on your hands or forearms. Pro tip: use a few pillows to prop up your back for added support. Intertwine your legs and move closer to your partner’s lap until you can grind or slide up and down on them. The extra space between you and your partner gives plenty of room for sensually touching yourselves or each other. This position is great for shallow penetration, which can feel incredible if you’re looking for a gentler position.

Oral sex

I get it, oral sex isn’t technically one position, but that’s the beauty of it. Giving or receiving oral sex in nearly any position that feels good for you and your partner(s) is on the table, so get creative!


Use these positions to make sure you feel comfortable with sex throughout pregnancy. If you have any questions, make sure to check in with your doctor.

Deana Williams

Deana Williams

Dr. Deana Williams, MPH, PhD (she/her/hers) is a sexual and reproductive health researcher at the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University. Her research calls attention to systemic oppression and promotes the health and well-being of communities that are historically underserved. Dr. Williams’ specific research interests include health equity, racial justice and healing, queer liberation, diversity and inclusion within sexuality education, and the health and well-being needs, experiences, and strengths of LGBTQ+ communities of color. She has authored and co-authored multiple scholarly publications on health disparities and the social determinants of health. In addition to her work at Indiana University, Dr. Williams is an advisory board member for the HIV League, the only non-profit organization in the US that provides scholarships to students living with HIV. Dr. Williams has taught sexuality education for nearly a decade in collegiate, community, and clinical settings. She has also worked on several gender equity and sexual violence prevention and education initiatives spanning the Midwest as a skilled trainer, program planner, and workshop leader. She holds a Master of Public Health and a doctorate in Health Behavior from Indiana University.