"And then she says, look, you can see the baby moving. I don't WANT to see the baby moving! Shit, once you've seen that, you can't go on with it. I mean, just on principle — that's his home, he's living in there! I wouldn't want a stranger sticking his dick in my house..."
Doctor: And of course the best way to induce labor is sex.
In most media, it's fairly unusual to see a pregnant woman implied as having sex during her pregnancy, even if this is a show which otherwise is fairly frank and open about human sexuality. It's a bit of an odd taboo, but it's one that can clearly be traced back to one fairly bizarre cultural belief which writers often impart.
Supposedly, someway, somehow, the man's genitalia could prod the unborn and the pressure could cause permanent damage. The kid could grow up with a misshapen limb, or worse. Not to mention genital-to-fetus contact just sounds... wrong, especially if it's your kid.
For various reasons this idea is, well, ridiculous. The fact of the matter is that the womb and the vagina are very far away from each other anatomically and the biggest penis in the world isn't going to broach the divide. Not to mention that the two are separated by the cervix, which is not wide enough to admit said massive penis. Even if it did, there is a pretty strong membrane over the womb, designed to hold several pounds of the baby and the amniotic fluid. (Of course there is. Otherwise, what's keeping it in?) It's almost like nature's trying to stop things getting in, or something.
Ironically, it turns out that sex during pregnancy is actually recommended by doctors to reduce hypertension. However, there are circumstances (such as risk for premature labor) when a doctor might advise a pregnant woman to forgo some or all sexual activities. Additionally, some doctors recommend that a woman refrain from giving oral sex (or at least "ingesting") because of the possibility that certain protein compounds (prostaglandins) in semen may induce labor.
Outside of the issue of damage to the baby, however, a rather more practical issue can arise; comfort. Depending on how far along the pregnancy — and thus the development of the fetus — is, both partners may find themselves having to navigate a potentially rather large and heavy obstruction on the woman's part, which can make it difficult to find a position which is comfortable and satisfying for both partners. (Not to mention the mood swings, persistent vomiting, fatigue, and various other aches and pains that can crop up throughout gestation, not that those are constant.) It's certainly not impossible to do so, however. Some people have dedicated a large amount of time to thinking about this, cause people can be Horny Devils — sometimes even thanks to the pregnancy; the hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy can increase the mother's sex drive.
For others, especially men in fiction, the issue isn't a physical one, but an emotional one. Since babies are seen as pure and innocent creatures, and sex can be considered sinful or dirty, and the collision of these two feelings leave some men uncomfortable about the idea of a sweet little baby being right there, and it can create feelings that they're being "watched" or at the very least, feeling like they're corrupting the baby, similar to how some men can be uncomfortable having sex in a room where family photos or dolls are staring at them.
Granted, a lot of people don't bother to think this through that much. Besides, steamy sex scenes are usually pure Fanservice in the first place, and let's face it: sex scenes featuring pregnant women have a niche appeal at best.
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This trope is implied to have been averted in the Hungarian dubbing of Fullmetal Alchemist, where, in one of the more infamous translation choices, Maes Hughes brags about his wife becoming a "goddess in bed" thanks to her pregnancy.
Happens in Spotted Flower, in which the otaku husband is unable to be sexually aroused by his pregant wife.
There's an old joke dealing with this, where a super-intelligent baby emerges from the womb, thanks his doctor, his mother, and then asks his dad to lean down. Upon doing so, the baby pokes his finger into his father's forehead repeatedly and asks "How do you like it?"
Stand-up comedian Jeff Foxworthy told a story about the Lamaze class he and his wife attended before the birth of their first daughter.
"At one point, the instructor told us, "Now, after your wife's water breaks, do not have sex.". I raised my hand. I said "Is this really a problem?!" That's a sensitive husband, ain't it? "So, uh...just how far apart are the contractions there, sweet thing? Seems like a shame to waste this semi-private room." See, and they wouldn't tell you that unless somebody had done it, that's what bothers me."
On Dane Cook's first album, he chats with a pregnant couple in the audience about their continued sex life, expressing impressed surprise that they still do it.
Subverted in My Inner Life. Jenna and Link continue to have sex all throughout both of her pregnancies. She is even advised by the Healer she visits to do so, since it "makes the baby stronger". Right...
One Mr. Seahorse fic had one...how do we put this...pregnant father buggering the not-pregnant father. Pegging aside it's a tad unusual for this trope, though not actually an inversion.
A chapter in a one-shot collection is about George and Ron pranking Harry by convincing him that this is a necessity for all women. After some (very frustrating) time, Ginny's investigations reveal the reason for Harry's lack of attention... and she isn't pleased.
In White Rain, while Sakura's pregnancy is too early to show, Sasuke seems put out at how much more passionate she's become recently. And then, things go wrong.
In the film Nine Months, the mother refuses to have sex due to this.
In Knocked Up, Seth Rogen's character has this fear in the middle of doing the deed, much to his girlfriend's disappointment.
That didn't stop him from multiple attempts, of course...
Averted in Munich; after having sex with his visibly pregnant wife, the main character asks her "How long into the pregnancy should we stop having sex?" Between heavy breaths, she responds: "labor."
Discussed in Dogma, where Jay is aware that a pregnant woman can have sex "until the third trimester."
In Stephen King's The Stand, Stu Redman and Frannie Goldsmith regularly have sex while she's pregnant, although at one point Stu worries about "squishing" the kid between them. Apparently he's only familiar with the missionary position? Apparently she is as well, since she tells him she's cutting him off at four months.
In Flowers for Algernon, Charlie halted a near-sexual encounter after finding out that the woman was pregnant. He was squicked; her, not so much.
In Broken, Elena and Clay stop having sex during pregnancy because she started 'spotting' as if on her period. Even though the Pack doctor reassured them that they couldn't hurt their baby twins, they were too scared to risk it. So instead, they got very creative with their sex life.
That's not the only thing she's scared of doing, either...
Referenced in the Flashman book Flash for Freedom, where Flashman finds his wife Elspeth's pregnant appearance arousing and wants to have sex, but she declines thinking it could hurt the unborn child.
Ways of Dying by Zakes Mda technically averts this in that a woman who's in the third trimester has an affair with her obstetrician. Unfortunately for them, they're caught in the act, and as you might imagine, they're not married to each other. The woman gets out of any trouble due to sheer gall, but the obstetrician tries to lie his way out and gets beaten up for it.
Averted in Vilhelm Moberg's The Emigrants suite. Kristina laments the fact that while she's pregnant with her fifth child she and Karl Oskar will be journeying to America, never alone and thus not able to have sex. Which disappoints Kristina since the only time she can fully relax during sex is when she's already pregnant and thus doesn't have to worry about getting pregnant.
Women on Darkover never have sex during pregnancy, preferring to send their husbands to other women - usually a sister or very close friend during their gestation. They are shocked at the notion that Terran men would 'demand' sex of their gravid wives. Of course they are also shocked at the idea of men remaining celibate for nine months.
In the Masters of Rome series Pompey the Great avoids having sex with his new wife - though they both want it badly - because she is pregnant with the child of her former husband. Then she dies miscarrying the baby and Pompey is so distraught he tries to throw himself onto her pyre.
Averted in Stephen Baxter's Evolution, one of the chapters deals with a pregnant 17 year old girl from a tribe of hunter-gatherers who offers herself sexually to a city-dwelling Dirty Old Man with a fetish for pregnant women, in exchange for taking her with him to the city, since if she stays with her tribe her baby would be killed because there's not enough food left.
Averted in Fifty Shades of Grey in the epilogue, in which Christian not only has sex with a pregnant Ana but flogs her belly.
In Misfits Nathan has sex with Marnie days before she gives birth- and minutes after meeting her.
In Brass Eye, the American rap artist Jail B8 blames his pedophilia on his father fucking him "anally, prenatally".
In one episode of Two and a Half Men, Berta's pregnant daughter Naomi is visiting, and is quite clearly arousing Alan. When Charlie asks him what the Hell, he intimates that he and Judith had the best and most frequent sex of their marriage while she was pregnant with Jake, leaving him with an innate attraction to pregnant women. Charlie assumes that this explains Jake's grades, and then weighs in on the subject of sex with pregnant women with "Once there's a bun in the oven, I no longer feel the need to butter it." Later in the episode, Jake wonders if having sex with a pregnant lady means she'll have twins. When Alan confirms that that isn't how it works, Naomi adds that "Otherwise I'd be havin' a whole damn litter!"
When Alan had to explain why he was aroused by the pregnant Naomi, he also comments on how Judith's hormones made her crave sex more leading to one of the funniest lines Alan has ever said:
Subverted in an episode of Veronicas Closet where one character is afraid he may harm the baby if he has sex with his pregnant girlfriend. Someone else explains the truth to him by using an analogy involving a car, a garage and house. It ends with something along the lines of "No matter how big your car is, driving it into the garage cannot harm the baby in the house".
An early episode of Veronica Mars had two men fighting over an heavily pregnant attractive redhead despite both knowing that nether of them was the father. that bit getsicky.
Friends had this when Rachel was pregnant. She hit a point four months in where every guy was really sexy, and she was often aroused. Pheobe said she got through it with a cardboard cut out of a professional boxer.
And by the end of the pregnancy (when the baby is overdue) Rachel's gynecologist recommends sex to help the pregnancy along, and she spends the rest of the episode trying to seduce Ross (her water breaks just before they get around to it, though).
Even Scrubs, where, being doctors they really should know better, features Dr Cox and Kelso calling pregnancy sex "a freakshow", because the fetus has hands and will try to grab any invaders. Of course, they were definitely just trying to freak Turk out.
When Kim was (visibly) pregnant though, she and JD were shown to have pregnant sex, JD even gloated in front of his friends that he could "Sex [his] pregnant girlfriend into a coma.".
JD: That was so cool! And weird.
Kim: I think he liked it too; he's kicking like crazy.
JD: And now it's disgusting. (Not that that stopped him from doing it again)
In Nip/Tuck, Christian gets physically violent with a store clerk who has sex with the woman carrying his child (even though Christian and the woman no longer have a sexual or emotional relationship). Even though Christian has sex with her later on to help reduce her tension. The implication is that Christian freaks out because the clerk has a pregnancy fetish, which makes Christian "sick" for having sex with women to whom he's attracted. Considering that Christian is The Casanova, this helps solidify his position as being a giant hypocrite.
Prison Break: When reunited with his pregnant girlfriend Maricruz in season 2, Sucre worries about this.
On Freaks and Geeks, during Sex Ed someone asked if it was possible to poke the fetus during sex, and the gym teacher said that it wouldn't happen (except, supposedly, to the kid who was wearing an eyepatch at that moment).
Patrick from Coupling claimed to have had sex with a pregnant woman, who he had no trouble finding sexy. This squicked Sally immensely, rather derailing what had been her attempts to assure Susan (pregnant) and Steve that pregnant woman were beautiful and sexual activity involving them was also beautiful and natural.
Steve is equally squicked and explains that sex with pregnant women is taboo, but that he's allowed to have sex with Susan since he's the one who "taboo-ized" her.
Sally's squick is signalled to the viewer as irrational given that she wants to have a baby, and the scene ends with Patrick and Sally huffy with each other because she wants to be pregnant and he finds pregnant women sexy... and neither of them appear to realise that this is the ideal situation for them.
In British Drama Cold Feet the man is reluctant to have sex with his pregnant wife. Not because he fears he might harm the child, but because he thinks it's "impolite to go poking around in there". She eventually convinces hims that the baby is asleep and won't notice.
British comedy show KYTV once had a sketch where the news show was interviewing a government minister and asked him if people should have sex during pregnancy
MP: Certainly not....you might get bitten by the baby.
Jefferson: She wants sex all the time. I mean, having sex with your pregnant wife is, is like putting gas in the tank of a car that you've already wrecked.
Seen in Goodnight Sweetheart when a pregnant Phoebe refuses to have sex with Gary on the grounds that it might damage the baby. Great play is made of the Values Dissonance when she has no problem in continuing to smoke.
Attempted aversion AND play straight in Rome, when Pullo wants to have sex with the pregnant Eirene, but she refuses on the grounds it's "bad for the baby."
Miranda of Sex and the City muses "What if he's huge?" and fears that her partner might dent her baby or something.
She gets over it. Later on, when she's horny from all the pregnancy-hormones and her at that point quite visible pregnancy is cramping her gettin'-around skills, she muses that that must be why you're supposed to have children within wedlock - so that "there's one guy around who's obligated to have sex with you."
On Mad About You, Paul was initially reluctant to have sex with a pregnant Jamie, fearing he could hurt her or the baby, but their sex life resumed once he was assured by her and her doctor that this was not so. There was even a scene shortly before she went into labor,in fact, initiated by Paul in an attempt to induce labor (she was overdue).
Averted on several soap operas. Especially noteworthy is that there was no drawn-out discussion about safety or comfort, etc. beforehand.
On Titus, the titular character finds out his best friend Tommy has been having sex with his pregnant sister. He starts wondering if it's even safe, but Dave assures him it's perfectly safe up to a point. Titus then mentions(in the Neutral Space) that Dave knows a lot about the female reproductive system; not because he studied it, but because one time he got so high, he remembered being born.
In an episode of Royal Pains, Hank accompanies a heavily pregnant woman and her family to their private island, and she confides in him that she intends to induce labor during their stay. Hank vetoes the idea, since getting proper medical care would be difficult if something went wrong, and later has to discourage her and her husband from having sex because of it. Quoth the husband: "I had no idea sex led to childbirth. (beat) That Came Out Wrong."
On Suburgatory, George is discouraged from having sex with Noah's surrogate for this very reason; they even have a sort of contract. However, the doctor averts this by mentioning how it might be beneficial.
A more serious example occurs in House, where a young pregnant woman is discovered to have two independent uteri, both of which have fetuses in them. The only problem? One of the fetuses is several weeks younger than the other. The woman's boyfriend is upset, as they temporarily split up for a few weeks after she told him she was pregnant, and she ended up having sex with another guy, figuring she couldn't get pregnant again. Eventually, the boyfriend comes around and agrees to raise both children as his own.
Are you sure this was House? I remember this from an episode Grey's Anatomy.
Averted on Reba, Van and Cheyenne frequently had sex in the early months of pregnancy. Played straight later when Van was reluctant to have sex to induce labor.
The George Lopez Show danced all the way around it. Angie got a false positive on a pregnancy test but later found out she wasn't pregnant. However, because George was so excited about the baby and was being so loving and attentive, she decided to try and get pregnant as quickly as possible to keep him from finding out. Unfortunately, after seeing a very-realistic 3D ultrasound on the internet, George is so creeped out by knowing the baby is right there, he's turned off from the idea of sex for a while.
Averted in the album The Hazards of Love by The Decemberists. Note the lyrics of "Won't Want for Love (Margaret in the Taiga)", in which the pregnant Margaret is going to meet her lover.
And all this stirring inside my belly
Won't quell my want for love
And I may swoon from all this swelling
But I won't want for love
Also averted in the music video Bun In The Oven, created in 2010 for the LA Comedy Shorts Film Festival. The whole song is about a pregnant woman, backed up by several more pregnant women, singing how she sees no reason to stop having sex because she's heavily pregnant and, if anything, she's even sexier now that she is pregnant.
Newspaper & Magazines
This comes up in the column Savage Love from time to time, though in one case it seemed that a guy was just using it as an excuse because he wasn't attracted to his wife at that stage in her pregnancy.
A very Black Comedy aversion of this in the musical The Threepenny Opera. As discussed in the song "The Pimp's Ballad", Macheath and his ex-lover Jenny had sex while she was pregnant for the deliberate purpose of causing a miscarriage.
Averted by Warhammer 40,000 (of all franchises) - part of the reason that the Eldar have such low birth rates is that the father has to make multiple genetic donations over the pregnancy for the offspring to be viable. Unfortunately for them, there is a Chaos God after them attempting to enforce Death by Sex.
Completely inverted in Sabrina Online, where pregnancy made Amy even randier.
In The Least I Could Do, Rayne asks a pregnant coworker about this when she alludes to still having an active sex life. He worries that an unusually large member could damage the child. Cue imagine spot with a doctor holding a baby with a large dent on its head.
Played straight during Hank Hill's guide to fatherhood as seen as an extra on the Season 2 King of the Hill DVDs. One question asks Hank if he can have sex with his wife while she's pregnant. Hank questions why the guy would want to "run around the bases again when he's already hit a home run".