We all know how pregnancy happens. But whether you got pregnant naturally or had a medical intervention to help you get pregnant, the question still remains- is sex during pregnancy safe? What are the best ways to have sex during pregnancy, and how do you work around the elephant (i.e., the growing belly) in the room?

Although it can seem a little weird to have sex when you have a growing baby inside of you, it is important part of your relationship with your significant other and it can even have some medical benefits!

My husband and I have three daughters and we were sexually active throughout all of our pregnancies. Although we were comfortable with the idea of sex during pregnancy, we did have a one instance during my first pregnancy that was quite scary.

I was around 23 weeks pregnant when after a rather vigorous sexual encounter together, we realized there was blood. Everywhere. Not a little bit of blood or just some spotting but a huge pool of blood all over the bed. We immediately freaked out and after a quick clean-up, we rushed to the hospital.

The whole ride there I was crying and I kept thinking that they wouldn't even try to save my daughter because I wasn't 24 weeks pregnant yet. We made our way up to labor and delivery where the doctor examined me by ultrasound to check on my daughter first. He determined that she was perfectly fine and healthy. They then did a vaginal ultrasound to check the length of my cervix. It was short and closed, so that was a good sign. A very good sign. The diagnosis was that a blood vessel within my vaginal canal had probably burst during sex, and that is why I had so much blood.

In the end, my daughter was healthy, I was fine, and the pregnancy proceeded as normal until I gave birth 16 weeks later exactly on my due date.

One of the biggest pros for sex during pregnancy, especially as your reach the end of pregnancy, is that it can actually help to spark labor. This was the case for me at the end of two of my three pregnancies. In both cases, I had just had an appointment that day to check my progress and I was about 2 or 3 centimeters dilated. To say I was done being pregnant is an understatement, which many mothers will tell you is often the case towards the end of a pregnancy. Once home from my appointments my husband and I had sex. Shortly after (within a few hours) early labor contractions started. In my first pregnancy, my daughter was born the next morning at 3 AM. In my second pregnancy, my daughter was born that evening, about 10 hours after we had had sex. So now anytime a mom is trying to induce labor, I always suggest having sex!

Is sex during pregnancy safe?

As mentioned above, sex during pregnancy is totally safe and even encouraged! It is a great way to connect with your partner when so many changes are about to happen in your everyday life, and it can even relieve some tension for the mother-to-be both physically and mentally.

Many people fear that they will somehow hurt the baby while having sex during pregnancy. That is simply not the case! No penis or even vaginal toy will be able to reach the baby when you're pregnant. In fact, your cervix, or the gateway from your vaginal canal to your uterus is closed and short during pregnancy in order to help the baby stay in place. So there is no way that anything going inside your vagina will reach the baby no matter how big it is.

According to Parents.com, 50% to 80% of expecting mothers believe that sex during pregnancy will hurt the baby. "Undoubtedly the biggest wet blanket is fear of hurting the baby," says Wendy Wilcox, M.D., MPH, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Montefiore Medical Center, in New York City. In fact, many expecting fathers feel the same way.

Can sex during pregnancy cause a miscarriage?

The short answer? No. Unless you are engaging in a crazy sexual act that is vigorous and dangerous to your actual stomach, there is no way for sex to cause a miscarriage. No matter how big your partner is or how big the toy is, nothing is reaching your baby. Parents.com says, "Even if your partner is exceptionally well endowed, his penis will never reach the baby because the baby's not in your vagina. They are cocooned in their own little impenetrable vault, within the strong walls of the uterus, behind the cervix and well-cushioned by amniotic fluid."

But not all sex is created equal. You don't want to have the most vigorous sex that may cause trauma to the vagina or cervix (see my story above). But regular, sensual sex that is gentle and loving won't hurt your baby. In fact, you might find that the rocking and swaying during sex actually puts your baby to sleep!

The general rule for sex during pregnancy is not to push anything too deep or too hard into the vagina, be mindful of your stomach area, and keep any toys or anything going into the vagina clean in order to prevent infection.

What happens to your sex drive during pregnancy?

A person's sex drive during pregnancy will vary from person to person. In fact, it may vary from pregnancy to pregnancy! During my first pregnancy, my husband and were still alone in the house. Sex anytime, anywhere was very do-able. During my second pregnancy, we had a toddler which made it really difficult to get it on. I can safely say that my sex drive was a bit lower the second and third pregnancy, and it lowered as all of my pregnancies progressed.

Some women find that they have a higher sex drive during pregnancy. Some find that they have no desire to have sex at all. Others find that it ebbs and flows. It really is all dependent on the person and the pregnancy!

One of the biggest contributing factors to your sex drive during pregnancy is your hormones. As your hormone levels shift, so will your sex drive.

Your physical condition can also affect your sex drive. If you're sick during your entire first trimester, chances are that you won't be "in the mood." As your baby continues to grow, your body starts to change- this is something that some women have a hard time dealing with which can also lower their sex drive.

Pregnancy is also not the most comfortable of physical conditions. Things will hurt, things will be swollen, and things will just be all around uncomfortable. Your sex drive may be lower than normal because you're physically in pain.

No matter what though, be sure to listen to your body and your feelings. Never feel pressured to have sex if you aren't feeling up for it. There is nothing wrong with a lower sex drive during pregnancy.

Is sex ever not safe during pregnancy?

Although sex is safe for normally progressing and healthy pregnancies, it is not always safe. If your doctor puts you on pelvic rest or bed rest, this means no sex, too. If you have had continuous or heavy bleeding your doctor may also recommend you refrain from sex. Other factors that may limit your sexual activities during pregnancy include:

  • Your water being broken as it can increase the risk of infection.
  • Your cervix is long and/or open as it can lead to early labor or miscarriage
  • If you have a high-risk pregnancy or pregnancy with multiples
  • If you have previously had early labor

As always, listen to your doctor's advice if they advise you not to have sex during pregnancy. It is for the safety of both you and your baby.

If you and/or your partner are having sex with multiple partners, be sure to still use condoms to prevent sexually transmitted infections and/or sexually transmitted diseases. It is always a good idea to get tested in early pregnancy for any STIs or STDs so they can be treated early, and to have an idea if you need to prevent reinfection.

What are the best positions for sex during pregnancy?

One of the biggest (no pun intended) complications in sex during pregnancy is how to have sex. Yes, we all know how it works but how should you work around the belly? Are there positions you should avoid?

In reality, the only positions you should avoid are the ones that make you uncomfortable or any position in which you are laying directly on your belly. Otherwise, almost any other position is perfectly safe. Some options include:

  • You lying on your back with your partner standing in front of you
  • You bent over the bed with your partner behind you
  • You on all fours with your partner behind you
  • You on top of your partner

Remember, sex during pregnancy is safe and healthy. Don't be afraid to get it on and connect with your partner- especially since so much of your life will be changing in just a few short months!