Breaking the Taboo: Sex During Pregnancy

Phew, maybe you’re thinking…this girl gets straight to the point! And it’s true, because in this blog I want to talk about sexuality both during pregnancy and afterwards once the baby arrives. I have noticed that sex is kind of an awkward subject for women to talk about during appointments with their midwife. But why is that?

We all know how people get pregnant, so why can’t we talk about it? After all, research shows us that many women experience problems with sex during and after pregnancy.

At the moment I am a first year midwifery student in Rotterdam, in the Netherlands. My first year of study is all about the physiology of pregnancy. I believe my studies and future job as a midwife are privileges, and I think that it’s an honour to be a part of such life changing events for women, and to be able to offer them support.

To continue on the subject of sexuality, maybe you’re thinking to yourself – what kind of problems could there be? The most common problems during pregnancy are generally a belly which is in the way, back pain or other pain in the body, feeling unattractive or feeling scared of hurting the baby. After delivery, women can struggle with the healing after a rupture, vaginal dryness, low sex drive and tiredness – because with a newborn baby you’re awake a lot during the night! And sometimes, with so many changes taking place in their bodies, women can feel unattractive or worry that their partners don’t find them as attractive as they did before.

The main message I have for any women who are worried is that it’s okay to have sex during pregnancy! You can try different positions and find what works and feels best for you at different stages of your pregnancy. There are only some specific circumstances when it’s not smart to have sex or an orgasm, for example, if you’re experiencing blood loss or suffer from severe varicose veins. It’s also not a good idea when your water breaks, as it could threaten premature birth, or when the placenta is located before the exit of the uterus.

Finally! Your little baby is there. What happens now? My advice here would be to take the time your body needs to heal! It has just accomplished an incredible thing, and will need to recover. The first time you have sex after giving birth can be exciting. Start carefully, take your time and consider using lubricant to make things easier.

Of course, if you experience regular or intense pain during sex at any point of pregnancy or after childbirth, make an appointment to talk to your midwife or doctor. They will be able to help you, give you tips and hopefully put your mind at ease. And if that is a too big step for you, try researching using reliable websites online until you feel more ready to talk to someone in person.

Female Sexuality in the Trump Era

The photo of Donald Trump signing a ban on funding to organizations involved in abortions (even if just by providing information!) has been all over the net this week. That image makes me think of a recent post in a closed, all-female Facebook network – a post about abortion but also, on a deeper level, about our views on female sexuality.

One of the members of the network wrote a very naked post about her visit to an abortion clinic. She had made friends with the girl in the bed next to hers, and as they opened up to each other, it turned out that they were both there for the same reason: they had been convinced to accept sexual intercourse without protection. Both girls had felt uncomfortable, unwilling, and pressured, but had in the end given in to the man they were with. Now the girls found themselves dealing with the aftermaths of unprotected sex: not only taking that test, finding a doctor, taking time of work, enduring bleedings and pain, but also living with the choice they made.

Girl’s Globe is a global forum and some of the views  and opinions of our readers, and even members of our network, on sexuality surely differ from mine. I come from a culture where sex with no strings attached is accepted; we even learn in school how to use a condom, and why it is important to do so. So, we do learn how to practice safe sex. However, what we don’t learn is how to tackle matters like pressure, responsibility and the opinions and norms of the society. Those opinions and norms are almost always linked to the female sexuality, outlining and controlling it: be sexy, but not over the top, enjoy sex, but not too much.

Sex is still almost exclusively viewed and discussed from the male perspective. How about female sexuality and our relation to our own pleasure? Accepting female pleasure is the first step towards understanding that sex is for women as much as for men. Teaching girls not only to say no, but also to demand that which actually makes them say yes, is giving them the key to their own pleasure.

We also have the right to state our conditions – not only for having, but for enjoying sex.  

Trump has, again and again, made blunt, ignorant, and plain-out scary comments about women. Their looks, weight, figure… The example set is not exactly an admirable one. Today’s boys – tomorrow’s men – need to learn to see women as their equals. They need to understand why pressuring their partner into not using a condom is not ok. That in sex, the woman isn’t only  there to please him, but that he is also, just as much, there to please her.

What about the two girls in the abortion clinic? When leaving the clinic, they agreed on that never again would they give the power over their bodies to another person. And one of them, she wrote a Facebook post about it, a post that was read by about 2,000 other young women, and hopefully that post will make at least one girl out there confident enough to state her own conditions when it comes to her body – and her pleasure.