A study conducted by researchers at the University of Nebraska's Department of Psychology and the Centre for Brain, Biology and Behaviour was set to determine if having a healthy relationship while pregnant would predict couples having less sex after giving birth.
The researchers interviewed and observed changes in relationship quality and sexual frequency from pregnancy to 6 months postpartum among 159 heterosexual first-time parent couples.
It was found in this study that when partners provided each other with emotional intimacy, mutual support, and effective communication during pregnancy, they actually did have less sex postpartum.
A successful adaptation to parenthood
This study also found that in terms of evolution, having less sex postpartum might actually reflect a normal and healthy adjustment to the new realities of life after birth and indicates a successful adaptation to parenthood.
Having less sex after having a baby decreases the chances of getting pregnant again. This gives the couple a chance to avoid an unwanted pregnancy which may take away the attention from caring for their current baby.
Less sex postpartum also helps moms avoid discomfort or pain as a result of postpartum sex. It helps them heal fully without interruptions.
In terms of biology, couples are hardwired to postpartum changes with regards to sexuality.
During pregnancy and postpartum neural and cognitive adaptations of brain regions involved in reward and maternal motivation and behaviours can make you less responsive to sexual stimulation, and more responsive to your baby, the study reveals.
Less sex after birth is normal
This study also found that for most couples it is normal to gradually have less sex during pregnancy and throughout the first year after birth.
Adding that the healing process for postpartum moms may take up to a year after having a baby. Therefore, there is no need for the internalised bounce-back pressure as it will add unnecessary pressure.
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