New moms tend to face, oh, just the tiniest bit of pressure.
There’s pressure to have a “natural birth,” (eye roll), the pressure to breastfeed, the pressure to bounce back to your pre-baby body (what is that, even?) — and those are just in the earliest days. There’s also the pressure to get your child to be a “good sleeper,” raise them screen-free, and eventually balance work and family so you can “have it all.”
Oh, and there’s the everyday pressure involved in keeping a baby, you know, alive. So you know what else new moms don’t need? The pressure to have sex before they feel ready— physically or emotionally.
But a new survey of U.S. moms says many are doing just that.
WATCH: The truth about postpartum sex. Story continues below.
Nearly a third of millennials moms (31 per cent) say they had postpartum sex with their partners before they felt ready, according to Motherly’s 2019 State of Motherhood Survey. The online survey of 6,457 U.S. women asked at what point they felt ready to resume sexual intimacy after becoming a mother, and if they had sex before they felt ready to do so.
The findings are extremely concerning, midwife Diana Spalding told Motherly.
“Having sex after birth before she is ready is troublesome. First, if she has sustained any pelvic floor dysfunction or vaginal, anal, or vulvar injuries from pregnancy and birth, she needs proper medical attention before engaging in sex, which could further injure her,” Spalding said.
“The emotional ramifications of having sex without feeling ready are significant. Feeling pressured into sex is simply not okay. Healthy and fulfilling postpartum sex is a wonderful thing, but we have to do a better job of conveying to women that they matter.”
It’s not just you
While many healthcare professionals suggest waiting six weeks to resume sexual activity, a lot of moms wait longer. Nearly 40 per cent of the moms in Motherly’s survey said they didn’t feel ready for six months to a year.
But it can certainly vary. HuffPost Canada recently spoke to a handful of new moms about how long they waited to have sex, and those timeframes ranged from two weeks to two years.
And when couples do resume sexual activity, it’s perfectly normal not to experience fireworks right away.
A recent Canadian study found that 90 per cent of couples with babies between the ages of three months and 12 months reported at least 10 sexual concerns that they found moderately distressing. Another study found 33 per cent of women still reported painful sexual intercourse at one year to 18 months postpartum.
While it’s important to maintain a connection with your partner after having a baby, it doesn’t necessarily have to be sexually, Dr. Natalie Rosen, a clinical psychologist and associate professor of psychology at Dalhousie University in Halifax, previously told HuffPost Canada.
“It’s important to talk to your partner about your needs — whether those needs are to find time to connect sexually, or not — so that you can understand each others’ perspectives and aim for a compromise,” Rosen said.