The journey from pregnancy to the postpartum period presents unique challenges for our sexual well-being. Some pregnant people may experience an increased sex drive, connection to their body, and feeling of sensuality. However, many struggle with insomnia, fluctuating hormones, and a vast array of physical and mental health problems that can make sex feel like the last thing on their mind.
Nevertheless, we increasingly know that prioritizing self-pleasure and/or pleasure with a partner can really help with self-acceptance and stress generally, but especially during this life-changing experience. If you’re pregnant, it makes sense to keep enjoying yourself sexually as part of caring for your mental and physical health.
Given these challenges, it’s logical that advancements in sex tech have emerged to support individuals and their partners during both pregnancy and the postpartum period.
So whether you’re just a few weeks into your pregnancy, or recovering from the birth, we’ve rounded up the best products on the market to help you reconnect with your pleasure-loving self.
Understanding changes in libido and desire
Libido and arousal can change during pregnancy as well as during the postpartum period due to hormonal and physiological reasons such as increased blood flow, leading to more sensitivity. Because of this, some report feeling more sexual, some less.
For those seeking to rediscover their sexual pleasure, the Lioness device might be a good place to start. As a smart sex toy, it works by allowing you to sync up the vibrations to its app which also measures arousal and orgasm. With the data displayed, you can then assess where, when, and how it felt best and learn how to fine-tune your pleasure experience every time.
This is particularly useful for people whose arousal has changed since they became pregnant. It can be good to get a sense of what feels good as the body’s changing shape may alter the positions in which they like to masturbate or reconnect with their orgasm after birth.
Exploring ethical porn and female pleasure
Not only does the body shift, but desires may change during this time. For example, conventional porn may lose its appeal during the transformative phases of pregnancy and postpartum. Alternatively, ethical porn that focuses on female pleasure could be more aligned with these desire shifts.
Afterglow, for example, is a women-created ethical porn site offering erotic content and how-to videos, and guided masturbation videos from pleasure trainers that are focused on maximizing your enjoyment, both solo and with partners.
The how-to videos are useful if the usual sexual repertoire is becoming more difficult to enjoy due to your changing body, and some fresh ideas are needed. Not to mention that the female-pleasure aesthetic is a great way to shift away from the ‘male gaze’ and is a good reminder to honor your changing body and desires during this time of metamorphosis.
Strengthening your pelvic floor for better arousal
Best known for its award-winning breast pumps, Elvie also offers smart kegel trainers. As anyone who’s gone through pregnancy knows, kegels are the foundation of good pelvic floor health. Studies show that 35 percent of people who have had a baby experience some weakness in that area.
Pelvic floor weakness can have detrimental effects on urinary incontinence as well as the experience of orgasm.
Elvie’s kegel trainer, cunningly named the Elvie Trainer, is designed for toning and training the pelvic floor muscles. It uses biofeedback to let you know if you’re exercising the muscles correctly. It offers six targeted exercises to give you a complete pelvic floor workout, and the workouts are also gamified to keep you improving. It’s perfect for use during pregnancy and the postpartum period – and beyond, as we know with age comes pelvic floor weakness.
Strengthening your pelvic floor has been found to increase blood flow and muscle strength, enhancing arousal, lubrication, and orgasm intensity.
Enhancing pleasure with body massagers
Not only does strengthening the area improve the experience of pleasure, but massage can also be highly beneficial for people during the pregnancy and postpartum period. A recent study from the University of Miami’s School of Medicine found that massage helped to lower anxiety, decrease back and leg pain, and improve sleep.
So something that doubles up as an all-over body massager and a vulva massager has got to be a winner. Enter Lovehoney’s Health Rechargeable Silicone Body Massager. It features seven patterns of vibrations with four intensity levels. It is also waterproof, allowing for more pleasure while taking a bath or shower. That said, many different wands are available and most offer the same sort of features.
Reconnecting to intimacy with clitoral stimulators
Despite the endless talk about stretch marks, weight gain, and mood swings to name but a few side effects of pregnancy and then the postpartum period, many pregnant people feel more sensual and sexy than ever during this time. You just might need to adjust some of the activities you engage in while your body is doing its thing and later during healing – particularly if you’re someone who enjoys penetrative sex.
As Kate Moyle, psychosexual therapist and author of The Science of Sex, explains, “The postnatal period can be one of adjustments and adapting for some people, which can be particularly dependent on their birth experience and recovery.”
She goes on to share that “some people may feel that they aren’t ready or feel anxious about recommencing intercourse, but want to sexually connect with themselves or their partners and this is where clitoral and external stimulation can play a key role – it can be an important way of easing into sexual experiences again without the pressure of having penetrative sex and giving you a chance to start to feel comfortable and for desire and arousal to kick in, which can be inhibited when we feel anxious and distracted.”
If you want to know more about post-partum sex, you could start with Moyle’s podcast episode on the topic, Post-Natal Sex Lives featuring pelvic health physiotherapist Clare Bourne.
Mini-clitoral stimulators may work for you during this time too. One of them is the We-Vibe Melt, a clitoral stimulator that syncs up to a sophisticated app, this can be controlled by a partner if touching is a bit much in the tender days. It offers 12 different intensity levels and is whisper-quiet and waterproof.
If you’re keen to enjoy even more pleasure by yourself, the Womanizer Premium Rechargeable Smart Silence Clitoral Suction Stimulator is also a great choice. It uses Womanizer’s patented Pleasure Air Technology (using air suction rather than vibration) to stimulate the clitoris and features a smart silence function. Hence, it only activates once it’s touching your body, thus reducing noise. Perfect for self-pleasure when you don’t want to wake the baby.
Reviving your sexual self with apps
For many people who experience birth, even for those who have an overall positive experience, there’s a need to reconnect with one’s sexual self in the postpartum period. That’s where an app like Ferly comes in.
Designed to help women think more about sex, enjoy their bodies more, and the sex they are having, it uses 30-minute guided audio sessions to reestablish what pleasure means to the user now. It also offers guided couples sessions, which aim to reestablish the intimate connection through sensual touch, which can be just the ticket when a tiny human may now metaphorically sit between you most of the time.
And it’s on this theme – that of postpartum connection between partners – that Gilly App enters. Tagged as ‘the relationship app for very busy couples’, users receive prompts to guide them through short bond-strengthening games and activities that put the spark back into a co-parenting relationship.
Premised on the relationship research that intimacy is built through small, everyday gestures rather than occasional grand ones, Gilly aims to find the time confetti in your day and make it sexy.
The future of pregnancy and postpartum sex tech
The past couple of years have seen better societal conversations about pregnancy and the postpartum periods. Now, sex tech is offering us more innovative ways to heal, reframe, and connect – solutions that can offer something that traditional health and wellness industries have been lacking.
There’s still room for more solutions that focus on pregnancy and postpartum mental health and sexual well-being, as well as products that teach non-birthing parents how best to support their partners sexually through this period.
But the future of pregnancy sex tech is undoubtedly bright, and offering some well-needed relief for parents-to-be.