I recently became very curious about the sex-lives of people during and after pregnancy. I learned lots about pregnancy and birth during my Doula training and I learned lots about sexuality during my Undergraduate program at the University of Waterloo in Sexuality, Marriage, and Family; but neither educational experience touched on sex during pregnancy. I tried to find some books or academic articles on the subject and at best, I got some half-baked blog articles on some positions to try for heterosexual intercourse.
I decided to take matters into my own hands. I compiled a survey, appropriately titled “Sexuality Throughout Pregnancy.” This by no means was an academic study with proper control groups or any institutions overseeing my work. I asked questions about “what did you like most about sex during pregnancy? What did you like least? What would you tell yourself knowing what you know now?” I wasn’t looking for answers to specific questions, I was looking to get a picture of people’s stories.
I had 41 responses. In academia this wouldn’t be considered all that great. Maybe okay for a qualitative study, but I doubt I could get published with a sample size so small. But the responses were striking. There were definite themes that kept popping up across multiple respondents, and I was reminded once again of my Gr. 10 science teacher: “You know Oral sex is sex, right?”
If I could boil the survey down to one giant take home message it was this: there are many different kinds of sex. It seemed for many of the respondents (who were mostly heterosexual) pregnancy forced them to reconsider how they were having sex for the first time. Penis-in-vagina sex just didn’t work for many of the people anymore (especially after pregnancy due to episiotomies or c-sections). The people who still had raging libidos and whose sex lives thrived regardless had one thing in common: an ability to see sex as more than just penis-in-vagina. Masturbation! Oral sex! Sex Toys! Snuggling! Hands! Fingers! Mouths! Tongues! Polyamorous and LGBTQ individuals didn’t seem to struggle with this problem in the same way. Their sex lives clearly had more variety and exploration allowing them to ebb and flow more easily with changes that come along with pregnancy and birth.
Obviously, research needs to be done. By people with fancy acronyms at the end of their name who have access to computers with statistical programs and tried, tested, and true psychological measures.
But you and I don’t have time to wait for science to validate our experiences. We have sex lives to get back to- so get to it! And don’t forget… Masturbation is sex too! Fingering is sex too! Blowjobs are sex too! If going out for dinner and having a big piece of chocolate cake makes you feel hot and bothered all over...
Eating out is sex too!
Tynan Rhea graduated from the University of Waterloo with a Joint Honours Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Sexuality, Marriage, & Family. Tynan now works in Toronto as a Doula and Sexual & Reproductive Health Consultant with the Sisterhood Wellness Collective (SisterhoodWellness.com) specializing in sexuality throughout pregnancy.