My favorite thing I have ever heard a midwife say is that she has two children and she can’t pinpoint when either was conceived. The first was because she and her husband had sex so often she couldn’t narrow it down far enough. The second was because she and her husband had sex so rarely she couldn’t remember when it could have happened. Not surprisingly, the core of her talk revolved around pregnancy and motherhood and sexuality.  She focused especially on how becoming a mother impacted how a woman felt about sex.

Sex is a major issue for most women, especially sex during pregnancy and after giving birth. Studies have indicated a couple’s sex life is one of the most pressing issues within a relationship, and is ranked among the top three reasons couples divorce. Unfortunately, the biggest sexual issues often arise soon after a woman gives birth. Though studies have indicated about one third of new mothers had resumed sexual intercourse with their partners by the time their babies were 6 weeks old, and virtually all mothers resumed sexual intercourse by the three-month mark, discussions with the study participants showed this was not truly indicative of a resumed sexual relationship.

More than 75% of mothers reported having less sex at three months after giving birth, and nearly 60% reported having less sex at one year after giving birth. More striking than the frequency of sex, however, was the urge for, and satisfaction with, sex. The women reported much lower libidos throughout the entire first year after giving birth. When they did have sex with their partners, most of the women reported they were not as physically or emotionally satisfied by the activity as they were prior to birth. What was most surprising about the results was the prevalence of these feelings across the board, despite major differences among the mothers. Regardless of circumstances that would be expected to have a serious impact on the sexuality of the mother, including things like the intensity of the labor, length of pushing, mode of delivery, birth complications, health of the baby, and whether the mother was breastfeeding, the women had very similar feelings and sexual behaviors. There were no prevalent patterns regarding any of one of these potential factors.

Source: Robson, Kay, et al. Maternal Sexuality During First Pregnancy and After Childbirth, An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Volume 88, Issue 9, pp 882-889, September 1981.