Pregnant and Sexy: Ten Tips

You're going to have a baby! 

And you'll never have sex again!

You'll hear this from your guy friends and you'll hear it from your female relatives. You'll hear it from talkshow hosts and maybe even from your healthcare provider. Everybody knows pregnant women are fragile flowers carrying scary alien life-forms within them. They're hormonal and huge and they definitely shouldn't be messed with. Right? 


Pregnant women aren't devoid of sexual feeling. Sometimes they feel like crap, sometimes they  feel like sad, weepy crap; and sometimes they just feel like watching a movie. Often, they need support overcoming our society's history of rigorous desexualization of their bodies. This post is for the the papas-to-be,* a set of suggestions guaranteed to help your pregnant partner feel sexy and sensual at least three times over the next nine months.
*Hetero-normative? Yes. But from what I can tell, this is mostly a hetero-problem.

Pregnant women are powerful, sexual creatures. They are creating life. They are in touch with their own physicality, mortality, and they (usually) had to have sex to get thereSex during pregnancy can be a really exciting, special thing. Because not only is this a profoundly spiritual, erotic time, increased blood-flow to the nether regions means that it will never again be so easy to give your partner multiple orgasms. And that's nothing to sneeze at (even if you sneeze seven times).

So why do we tell ourselves that sex will ends the minute she pees on a stick? 
Because it's convenient: it's easier to believe that pregnancy puts an end to sex than to reconfigure our idea that pregnant women and mothers are asexual, passive vessels. It's just another manifestation of the classic madonna/whore dichotomy: women are either saintly mother figures with bodies for nurturing – or depraved sluts whose bodies deserve to be violently exploited. My guess is that you didn't see your partner as a worthless sex-object before you knocked her up. So why pigeonhole her as a boring old madonna now that your DNA is proliferating inside her at a rate of 208,000 nucleotides per second?

Mitosis in embryo cells. Yes, this is how it all began.
Copyright © 2001-2002 Centro Riproduzione Assistita (CRA), Catania, Italy.

People used to believe that pregnant sex was bad for the woman, or for the baby, or both. Magazine articles aimed at women who wanted to keep their husbands' attention during this nine month "Pregnancy Pause" recommended that they brush up on their fellatio, cooking skills, and other such bullshit.

But with its strange mix of feminism and consumerism, our society is starting to realize the sensual nature of pregnancy: maternity clothes have moved from mumus with pockets to form-fitting designer dresses; and pregnancy porn (along with everything-else-porn) is available online to those who seek it. Somebody's figured out that pregnant women's bodies can be celebrated (and fetishized and exploited) just like other women's bodies. It's a big change, and it's happening pretty fast. 

Um, I love this dress. It's from Isabelle Oliver and it's kind of expeez.
I wanted to put an American Apparel picture here, since I wore one of their form-fitting dresses through most of my pregnancy, but I looked at their site and it's all...
mumus with pockets.

It was only two decades ago that a massive controversy swirled around Demi Moore's nude and pregnant Vanity Fair cover – a beautiful photograph by Annie Liebovitz that wouldn't turn many heads today (probably because everybody from Leslie Nielson to Annie Liebovitz herself has copied the image, but I digress).

Despite the money-making possibilities/the fact that gestation is a normal part of life (6 million American women are pregnant per year – that's like L.A. and Chicago populated entirely by pregnant women!), our cultural ideal of female beauty remains fixated on the body of a 14 year-old boy: stick-thin, flat in all areas, and horny as fuck. We see this image every day. Yeah, it might not be what you personally find the most attractive, but it's near impossible for a modern woman to be immune to the kind of social pressure that enforces this ideal, especially when her body has started to deviate from it so strongly. Undergoing change is fraught for the Western female body, as any newly pubescent girl knows. Chances are, there's going to be some time during the pregnancy that your partner feels like a bloated, sexless cow.

So what can you do to make her feel like the gorgeous, sexy goddess she is?

1. Examine your own ideas of beauty. Do you have trouble finding the image of a pregnant woman sexy? Given the societal norms of beauty, this reaction is pretty normal. It doesn't mean you're an asshole and you don't need to feel ashamed about it. But it does mean you might miss out on the most amazing sex of your life. Which you are in charge of. Your life, your body, your mind. You don't need to surrender to somebody else's idea of what is sexy. 
  •  Examine the roots of your belief that you need to be with a non-pregnant woman to be aroused. Where do you think it comes from? What does a very thin woman represent in your mind – is she a healthy person who happens to have a certain kind of body, or does your fantasy girl represent status, power, money, weakness, femininity, submission, strength, or something else? Have your sexual preferences always been restricted to one body type, or did something happen to guide your interests this way? If so, when did this conversion happen? Were you in a particularly vulnerable place (i.e. an adolescent boy afraid of rejection)? Do you hold this 'ideal' in your own mind because you imagine that your partner is comparing you to the 'ideal' men of her own imagination? 
  • Think back to a time when you had great sex with your partner. I would be surprised if the hotness was a direct result of the way she looked. More likely it was about the chemistry between you two, the connection you felt when she looked in your eyes, your physiological reaction to the sounds she made... All things that haven't really changed and are entirely possible now.
  • If you can, talk about it with another man you trust. Though they won't often talk about it, many men find pregnancy inherently lusty. Some describe a certain sense of freedom because, "she's already pregnant, so you don't have to worry about getting her pregnant!" Seems a little silly, but hey, whatever floats your boat.
Pregnant Beyoncé. Floating your boat yet?

2. The minute you find out she's pregnant, buy her flowers. Even if she doesn't want to be pregnant. She has been nourishing your offspring with her entire body for X number of days and this is a gift of immense proportions. Let her know that you appreciate it. You'll be surprised how long she remembers this small act of kindness – you might even hear her telling her friends about it. 

3. Get naked. Encourage her to spend as much time with her clothes off as possible. Especially if she's feeling crappy and needs to be home in bed as much as possible, this can be a great way for the two of you to get more comfortable with her changing body. 

  • Find out what (if anything) stops her from enjoying being naked. Is it cold in your apartment? Do you need better curtains? Is she uncomfortable with the big hallway mirror? Does she need you to join her? These are easy problems to fix. 
  • Realize that, especially in the first trimester when she's likely to be feeling the most nauseated, sex is low on her priority list. But you can still make her feel sexy, which is good for everybody (and might lead to more sex later on – which is also good for everybody).

4. Massage. And massage. And massage. Listen to her preferences. Erica Lyon describes a great technique in The Big Book of Birth. She calls it the hip squeeze and it involves pushing the two sides of your partner's hips in together while she is on all fours, thereby relieving tension in the lower back. It feels so damn good she'll be begging you for it every night. 
  • Have her put her feet up at the end of each day. 
  • Experiment with hot and cool packs on her shoulders and back. 
  • Use scented lotions. Look for a sample pack instead of purchasing a big tub of one kind – pregnant women's olfactory senses are way out of whack and she might start to retch at something she used to love.

5. Plan a vacation. This is not the time for adventure. This is the time for relaxation, for having all her meals made for her, for beautiful scenery. 
  • Ask her if it's all right for you to take care of all the logistics. Take care of all the logistics. 
  • If you can't afford to/don't have the time to go somewhere, ask your friends if they're planning on going out of town sometime in the next nine months. Tell them that you want to plan a romantic surprise for your partner and that you'd like to house sit. They can't say no. Tell everyone else you're going on vacation (it's not a lie!) and turn off your phones, computers, whatevers. This is time to focus on her.

6. Buy her a bikini. Even if she'd never wear it outside of the hotel room, this is a good way to suggest to her that you find her body sexy in all its ways. And pregnant women look great in bikinis. Look for a string one that ties on the sides so that both top and bottom are size-adjustable.

7. Don't act disgusted about what her body is going through. Ever. Yes, she's throwing up, she smells funny, she can't do the acrobatic sexy things she used to do, maybe she bleeds after you've been inside her (it's normal! don't worry so much!). 
  • If you feel grossed out about the thought of her giving birth, tell it like it is: confess to being scared out of your wits. A terrified man is an infinitely more appealing partner than a grossed out teenaged boy.
  • Her breasts may leak milk when you stimulate them. She's a glorious, juicy, alive, life-giving woman pregnant with your seed. Deal with it. You keep a box of kleenexes by the side of the bed for a reason, right?

8. Take photos of her. Naked if she'll let you, but just on a daily basis is good, too. 
  • Some couples like to take a picture every day or every week so they have a visual record of the pregnancy's development. 
  • Take them from the angle that exaggerates her belly as much as possible. Chances are she'll be happier with an image that makes her look pregnant than with one that makes her look like she's just put on a few pounds.
  • Don't share these photos without asking her. There's nothing sexy about having your boundaries violated (unless you want to have your boundaries violated, but that's a different story).

9. Tell her she is beautiful every day. By that I don't mean, literally saying "You're beautiful" every day. Mix it up a bit. You know, be creative. 
  • "That dress looks great on you!"
  • "Oh hey man, yeah nice to hear from ya. Yup, Sally's doing great, and she looks amaaazing. Just wait 'til your girlfriend gets pregnant. It's hot."
  • "Yes we're ready to order. Let's ask the beautiful pregnant woman first. Honey, what are you going to have?" 
  • And the classic: "You're so beautiful, I'm so glad you're the mother of my child!"
10. Find out what makes her feel sexy, and how you can help with it. Does she like having her hair done? Maybe you can call the salon and book an appointment. Does she feel particularly embodied after meditation or yoga class? Maybe you can drive her there or go with her. Does she love wearing a certain pair of shoes that are starting to pinch? Encourage her to wear them out, but bring a more comfortable option for her to change into.

My point is, pregnancy is a chance to get intimate with your partner in a whole new way. There's something undeniably lusty about a woman being pregnant with your baby. She's fertile. She's curvy, she's alive. She's devoted her body to nourishing the product of yours. And the best part: she's turning you into a baby-daddy.


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