Delivery Room Sex! It's A Thing

Sex can help speed up labor. But should couples be doing it in the delivery room?

Jan 15, 2013 at 10:30am | Leave a comment

Pro tip: if you are nearing the end of your pregnancy and want to help speed things along, the best thing you can do is to have lots and lots of sex. So said my Hypnobirthing practitioner, and many midwives will tell you the same.

The reason is because semen contains hormones called prostaglandins, which soften (or “ripen”) the cervix. Soft cervix = dilated cervix = imminent labor. Well, in theory, anyway.

It’s not uncommon for women to reach the end of a pregnancy and be so, so, SO done, even if her body is not quite done yet. Many a pregnant woman has prayed for the evening primrose oil/castor oil/acupressure/whatever to work and get that thing out of her already.

I was 40 weeks pregnant and desperate to give birth. Not because I had reached that point where I couldn’t stand to be pregnant another minute -- aside from the fact that I could no longer put on my own shoes, I was still enjoying my life as a pregnant lady -- but because my doctor was starting to talk about inducing labor and I knew that if that happened, there was a good chance that all my hippie drug-free birth plans would fall like a house of cards.

Unfortunately for me, having sex to speed things along was not an option. At that point, sex was so uncomfortable for me that we had not done the deed in at least a couple of months. And especially near the end, when I felt as if I was carrying not a human child but a bowling ball which was positioned just so against my cervix, I thought I might never want to have sex again.

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It was exit only, at this point.

But pregnant ladies who are able to have penetrative sex with a male partner: sex is the way to go.

Case in point: this couple who did the deed right there in labor and delivery, in the same room as some other patients (though they were separated by a curtain). 

The woman had been having contractions and went to the hospital, but was turned away because she wasn’t actually in labor. 

Do you know how disappointing this is? You just want to have the g-d baby already, and you are having contractions and you go to the hospital and they keep you for a bit and hook you up to all these machines and then say, “Nope! Go home!” It’s horrible. And so, so common, especially with first pregnancies.

Who knows, maybe this was the couple’s fourth visit to the hospital that week and they just dug in their heels and were like No way are we going home this time. We are doing this. Right. Fucking. Now.

So they just went at it right there in the hospital before the nurse had a chance to come back with the discharge papers. This may seem like it falls squarely under the category of exhibitionism, but I think it’s probably more a case of reaching a certain breaking point where bringing on labor trumps any sense of modesty.

In my experience, there is no modesty in pregnancy. When I was pregnant with Oliver, I had been looked at, been poked and prodded, had my doctor’s fingers in my cervix many times, had multiple blood draws, and had my belly touched by rando strangers (mostly older ladies). By the time I was in labor, I gave exactly zero Fs about who saw my ladybiz, or the fact that I had not been able to “maintain” it in at least a month because I could no longer reach down there and I sure didn’t trust Seth with a razor. 

So in terms of not really caring what other people see, and being desperate to have the baby, I totally understand how sex in the delivery room happens. I could never do it, because I’m a chronic apologizer, and I don’t ever want to make someone feel uncomfortable. And you know, having sex in the same room as a bunch of non-consenting strangers probably makes those strangers feel pretty uncomfortable.

Honestly, though, I just want to know if it worked. 

*Because I had been in labor for 40 hours and there was meconium in the amniotic fluid when my water broke, they had all these extra people in there in case anything went wrong. (Nothing did.)

Somer is on Twitter: @somersherwood.