Published on: Parents.com
Research has shown that up to 33 percent of women experience clinical depression or an anxiety disorder at some point during pregnancy. Yet some studies indicate that fewer than 20 percent seek treatment, and that treatment is often inadequate, says Healy Smith, M.D., a reproductive psychiatrist at the Women's Mental Health Clinic at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. "The myth that pregnant women must be happy is still really prevalent," Dr. Smith explains. "Because of that, treatment providers may be less likely to inquire into a woman's mental state, and a woman might feel ashamed to bring it up." But you don't have to suffer -- there are safe ways to treat depression and anxiety during pregnancy.
Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety
It can be tricky to diagnose mood disorders during pregnancy because "some of the symptoms can overlap with symptoms of pregnancy, such as changes in appetite, energy levels, concentration, or sleep," Dr. Smith says. "It's also normal to have some degree of worry over the health of the pregnancy." But if you experience persistent symptoms of depression and/or anxiety, especially if you're unable to function normally, get help.
Symptoms of depression include:
Studies have also shown that in a normal, healthy pregnancy, there's no link between having sex and premature birth.
Research has even indicated that women who have regular sex during pregnancy may be less likely to give birth prematurely. Having orgasms may also be related to a lower chance of giving birth early.
If you're feeling sexy and well enough, then it's a good thing to keep your sex life going throughout pregnancy. Having satisfying sex during this time is good for your relationship, both now and after your baby has arrived.
Will sex harm my baby?You won't hurt your baby by making love, even with your partner on top. The thick mucus plug that seals your cervix helps guard against infection. The amniotic sac and the strong muscles of your uterus (womb) also protect your baby.
If you orgasm, you may notice your baby moves around more. However, this is because of your pounding heart, not because he knows what's happening or feels discomfort.
However, your midwife or GP may advise you not to have sex if you have experienced:
You may also be advised to avoid sex during pregnancy if your partner has genital herpes. If you catch genital herpes for the first time during pregnancy there's a small risk that it could affect your developing baby.
Will sex feel as good during pregnancy?It depends. It's even better for some women, not as good for others.
Increased blood flow to your pelvic area during pregnancy can cause your genitals to engorge, and heighten sexual sensation. But some women report that this leaves them with an uncomfortable full feeling after intercourse ends.
Many women find that their clitoris is slightly less sensitive during pregnancy or that their orgasms are less powerful. It's also reasonably common for women to say they can’t reach orgasm as easily while they're carrying a baby.
Some mums-to-be find sex painful during pregnancy. This is particularly the case when penetration is deep. However, this can be avoided by adopting sexual positions where penetration is shallow or under your control (see below).
You may experience abdominal cramps after having an orgasm, as this can set off a wave of contractions. This is particularly noticeable in the third trimester. It can be off-putting, but wait a few minutes and the tightening of your uterus will ease, just as with Braxton Hicks contractions.
During pregnancy many couples find that they feel more pleasure from foreplay, oral sex or masturbation than intercourse. So although you may change the way you have sex during pregnancy, it doesn't mean you'll be less satisfied!
So if you can, try to keep some level of intimacy going throughout your pregnancy. Not only does it help to keep your relationship healthy, it also makes it more likely you won't have sexual problems after your baby is born.
I've gone off sex since I got pregnant. Is this normal?Yes! The big changes in your body are bound to alter your sex life. Some women, finally free from worries about conception and contraception, feel sexier than ever. But others are just too tired or feel too nauseous to make love, especially in the first trimester.
The hormones that your body produces during pregnancy are thought to be one reason for loss of libido.
Your state of mind is another factor. If you feel positive about your pregnancy and the changes your body is undergoing, you're likely to feel more sexual. But if you're not particularly happy about the pregnancy or feel insecure about your growing tummy or other issues, this can have a negative effect.
Women who have relationship problems or are experiencing depression are more likely to report that their sex life has deteriorated since becoming pregnant.
Most studies show that the second trimester is the time when women feel the most sexual desire.
Sex drive often wanes in the third trimester as birth, labour and your belly loom large. Many mums-to-be simply feel unattractive or worried about whether their partner is satisfied sexually.
At any stage of pregnancy, though, there are wide variations in how women feel and how sexually active couples are. What's normal for one person won't necessarily be the same for you.
Will my partner's sex drive change now that I'm pregnant?It might. It's not uncommon for men to feel as attracted as usual to their partner in the first two trimesters, but then to feel less interested in sex in the third trimester. This doesn't necessarily mean that your partner doesn't find you attractive any more.
Common reasons for lack of desire in dads-to-be include:
Talking to your partner openly about his fears and explaining that sex is not harmful during pregnancy can be helpful.
Is oral sex safe during pregnancy?Yes, normal oral sex won't harm you or your baby. In fact, it can be a good solution if intercourse is deemed too risky.
The only thing you must avoid is having your partner blow air into your vagina. Blowing air can cause a blockage of a blood vessel by an air bubble (known as an air embolism). An embolism can be potentially fatal for you and your baby.
It's safer if he sticks to kissing and licking your clitoris and labia (the lips around your vagina) rather than placing his tongue inside your vagina.
Which sexual positions are the most comfortable during pregnancy?As your pregnancy progresses, you may find that the missionary position (man on top) isn't comfortable any more. Try the following instead:
You can have satisfying sex when pregnant, and where there's a will, there's a way! With a little experimenting, you and your partner are sure to find techniques that work for you. And keep talking! Communication and openness are the keys to maintaining or improving sexual satisfaction during your pregnancy.
If you're healthy, and your pregnancy is going well, exercise is good for you and your growing baby. And exercise won't just benefit you now. Staying fit may also help you to cope with labour and birth when the time comes.
The important thing is to make sure that the exercise or activity that you do is fairly easy-going, and doesn’t involve the potential for any jolts or falls.Which type of exercise is best in pregnancy?It's safe to continue with most types of exercise, if you’re used to doing them. However, you should talk to your doctor, midwife or exercise instructor beforehand, just to make sure.
Aerobic exercise, such as swimming, brisk walking and aquanatal classes, are ideal. You can also do some types of muscle-strengthening exercises, such as pregnancy yoga and pilates. Make sure that your instructor is qualified and experienced in teaching pregnant women.
Sourcing articles from across the web and placing them in one location for you.