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Exercise & Sex

Exercise and Sex During pregnancy

Physical safety is a top priority during pregnancy. So when it comes to certain activities, like exercise and sex, we need to be pretty clear about what is OK to do, and what should be avoided. How much is too much, what is dangerous….these are common and important questions.


In general, pregnant women become less strong and more flexible during pregnancy. The heart beats faster all the time, in pregnancy, compared to not being pregnant. It is more difficult to catch one’s breath as breathing deeper becomes more difficult during pregnancy. As a result, pregnant women routinely feel less fit during exercise. They tire more easily and more quickly.

Certain exercises can bring on new discomfort and/or pain. Jogging, walking, and sometimes even standing can trigger ligament pain. This can be sharp, shooting pain which seems to run in the fold where the leg meets the body, in front, or just under the pregnant belly, angling down and in.  Although this pain can be sharp and sudden, it is not dangerous. The pain simply means a pregnant mom is pushing her activity beyond what is comfortable.

Lying down, and especially leaning over, with hips higher than head, like leaning over to tie one’s shoes, can make the ears throb, and the head and upper chest feel full. Once again, it does not feel good, but the feeling is not dangerous.

When it comes to specific exercises, here are some useful rules to follow:

  1. Do not exercise to exhaustion;  if you can talk during the exercise, you are probably not working too hard.
  2. Don’t try any new exercises, stick with the routine you know.
  3. Machines are better than free weights, because range of motion injury is usually less likely with machines
  4. Stationary bikes are better than the treadmill. If a pregnant woman falls on the treadmill she will likely hit her belly.
  5. Swimming is great.
  6. A stationary bike is better than a real bicycle. Losing one’s balance on a real bicycle can lead to a bad fall, and one is at LESS risk of getting hit by a car while on a stationary bicycle.
  7. Running is fine in women who were runners BEFORE getting pregnant, and its only OK until it starts to hurt.

In general, pain is nature’s way to say “please slow down, you are doing too much.”


Having sex is how one gets pregnant. Sex does not cause miscarriage. But there are some things to keep in mind, regarding sex during pregnancy.  First, couples should be aware that “things” may feel different during pregnancy. Find positions which do not hurt. Pregnancy can be a nervous time, and being really nervous during sex may not be pleasurable. Often the most nervous time is the first three months. Some couples will hold off on having sex until after three months. Finally, orgasm does not cause labor. Sex and orgasm are safe, until labor or until the water bag breaks.

Light spotting after sex should be evaluated, but not necessarily that very instant. And typical recommendations are to hold off on intercourse if there is vaginal bleeding during pregnancy.

Finally, when it comes to most things in pregnancy, if it feels wrong or dangerous, don’t do it. Then, contact the office to ask about specific questions regarding activity.

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