Hey, new moms! If you're feeling like sex is just so-so after you just had the baby, don't worry, it's not just you--and it's completely normal (don't ever think again that it is not!), according to a recent study.
“We know that sexual satisfaction is an important element in relationships, but as far as we know, it hasn't been studied at this transition before. We wanted to know how parenting stress affects sexual satisfaction,” said Chelom E. Leavitt, a doctoral student who worked on the study.
Conducted by researchers from the Pennsylvania State University in the U.S., the study involved analyzing data taken from 169 new-parent couples. The couples were asked about the parenting stress they were experiencing six months after their baby was born. After twelve months they were then asked to report about their sex life and sexual satisfaction.
Results showed that the amount of parenting stress the women felt affected the sexual satisfaction of both husband and wife. “The sexual relationship is interdependent, so when a mom feels greater stress due to parenting, not only is her sexual satisfaction diminished, the dad's sexual satisfaction is also affected,” said Leavitt.
This wasn’t true for the dads--why are we not surprised. “Interestingly, we found that men's parenting stress had no impact on either men's or women's sexual satisfaction,” Leavitt said. Yes, it is unfair.
Leavitt points out that the results of the study, published in the journal Sex Roles, may have something to do with the pressures and expectations society puts on a woman to bear the larger responsibility of caring for the baby and even to be the “perfect mother.”
But don’t be discouraged. It’s completely okay for a new mom to take some time to ease back into the sexual relationship she had with her partner before the baby. You might need to focus on yourself and get to know yourself again before you can get back in the groove. Doing me-time activities like walking or getting a massage can definitely help.
It also helps to not rush into intimacy and to take things slower this time around. Give each other massages, cuddle, kiss or share a shower together. Do whatever feels comfortable, and you’ll get there.