Pregnancy Sex Was the Best Sex of My Life


My husband and I were having sex just over halfway through my pregnancy when I became aware of his flat stomach meeting the hill of my swollen belly with a cringe-inducing smack. I opened my mouth to let out a defensive laugh but bit my lip instead. I didn’t want to ruin the moment—though I couldn’t imagine it wasn’t already lost.

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He was oblivious to the sound, it turned out, but I couldn’t get it out of my head. No matter how much he reassured me, it seemed impossible that my husband could desire a body that was so distorted, so inflated—one that deviated completely from the main- stream ideal. As a feminist, I knew I shouldn’t feel this way, but I did.

I’m also a journalist, however, who covers the sex beat. There are whole categories of porn dedicated to pregnancy, so I decided to go straight to the source, or sources: whip-wielding dominatrices who smacked costars around with their stomachs; lingerie-clad performers who theatrically groaned about becoming “fat pregnant cows”; cam girls who threatened to blackmail viewers into paying child support; fertility goddesses who sensuously oiled up their curves for the camera.

“What does it mean to be a sexy pregnant woman?”

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“What does it mean to be a sexy pregnant woman?” I asked each of them, a little too pleadingly. The question was often met by a temporary, bewildered silence. From their experience, there was no limit to the ways pregnancy could be sexy. As they saw it, the expectant state inspired anxiety in men— thanks to the astounding transformations in women’s bodies, the overt display of female power, the uncertainty about paternity— and all of that cultural baggage could be powerfully eroticized.

But my husband wasn’t titillated at the idea of watching me wrap a measuring tape around my belly, a bit of foreplay for some performers. Nor was he jazzed by the idea of serving his life-giving goddess on bended knee. He just wanted our sex life to continue in its relatively vanilla manner.

Obviously, the problem was me. Women’s sexuality is often as contingent on being desired as desiring, and I kept struggling to imagine myself as, well, a sex object. Slowly, though, a sense of sexiness sneaked up on me, much as my bump had grown imperceptibly day to day until strangers began asking when I was due. It was partly the example of the pregnant porn performers. I wasn’t going to employ any of their belly-rubbing moves, but their confidence and creativity emboldened me. If they could pull off a pregnant striptease, I could handle some missionary-style sex.

But, more than anything, it seemed that nature—basic biology—was stepping in to tame my neuroses. Pregnancy’s hormonal cocktail was putting me in the mood like never before. My husband would come home to find my Hitachi splayed on the bed like a worn-out lover—and, occasionally, he was next. When the subject came up with a close friend, I found myself confiding, “Best sex of my life?” It was a fact, but I still delivered the news as if it were a question—it came as such a surprise.

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Any lingering insecurities about my desirability started to feel false, put-on.

The increased blood flow of pregnancy also meant that my entire body started to feel like an electric network of ungrounded nerve endings. Orgasms came quickly, effortlessly, in multiples, limitless. Each one ended with a strong contraction of my uterus, which I could only experience as pleasurable after learning that it was a normal side effect of pregnant sex that no one tells you about. (It seemed indecent at first—there was a baby in there!)

And I actually came to adore my new form. I playfully confessed to my husband one night, “I’m kind of obsessed with my body.” Not since puberty had I spent so much time standing naked in front of a full-length mirror, admiring myself with total awe. My body was perfectly following biological marching orders that were far beyond my comprehension.

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There was something sexy in that, just as there is in how our bodies can surrender to pleasure when we stop overthinking and let go. Pregnancy and its physical changes were another form of that certain ineffable something that can be accessible through great sex: the sublime, the transcendent, the eternal—and, apparently, the tendency to riff like some New Age hippie. I was no longer seeing my sex life as if through the lens of an imaginary camera, a performance defined by how it looked rather than how it felt. In fact, any lingering insecurities about my desirability started to feel false, put-on.

Suddenly, I could imagine my sex life thriving regardless, or maybe even because of, whatever other bodily changes life throws my way. Of course, pregnancy does have uniquely positive associations—with youth, fertility, and femininity—that don’t accompany aging. Still, anything seems possible now; anything could be sexy.

It makes me think of my grandma, who, shortly before her death, told me that sex with my grandpa had only improved well into their eighties. She never explained why, but now I think I know what she meant. It isn’t just that a longtime partner can come to know your body even better than you do. It’s that it’s possible, in the right situation, or with the right person, to experience a sexiness that’s entirely detached from everything we ever learn about what’s hot. That certain things—be it wrinkles, a mastectomy scar, or even the fact of 40 years of marriage—can become sexy because of the context. That this kind of sex can be so amazing that you forget about your bodies, or even the fact of having separate ones.

This article originally appears in the December 2017 issue of ELLE.

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