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Wednesday, 6 November, 2002, 18:29 GMT
Sex 'less frequent after baby'
(Picture posed by models)
Pregnancy and childbirth affect couple's sex lives
Having a baby dramatically affects women's sex lives, a survey has found.

On average, couples have sex half as frequently during pregnancy as they did before.

This drops even further after the baby has been born.

The survey of 500 women for Prima Baby magazine found couples made love 10 times per month prior to the pregnancy, five times a month during and four times a month after the baby is born.


It's important to remember that a new mum's love life will get better

Julia Goodwin, Prima Baby
Two thirds said they were too tired or stressed for sex after the birth of their baby.

Many said sex was the "last thing on their minds".

Stretch marks

The survey found women have sex 10 times per month before pregnancy, five times a month during pregnancy and four times per month after giving birth.

Almost half of women said that they had suffered depression since having their baby and that the emotional state of their relationship had been affected.


Caesarean sections are major abdominal surgery, swinging from the chandeliers is not high on the list of activities

Belinda Phipps, National Childbirth Trust
And 78% said they were left with stretch marks after pregnancy, and 73 % a saggy tummy.

Just under half said their breasts had changed shape.

One in three also expressed concerns that their partner might be unfaithful while they were pregnant.

But the majority of women planned to talk through their problems and said that, although sex was less frequent, their partners were trying to understand what they were going through.

Over two thirds said that sex changes for them when they become pregnant and is never entirely the same again.

However, three quarters of women described themselves as "tired but very happy".

'Barbie dolls'

Julia Goodwin, editor of Prima Baby, said: "One of the most common things women say after they've given birth is 'no-one told me I'd feel like this'.

"The fact we have published these statistics about the physical changes women go through after childbirth shows it is perfectly normal for women to take a while to adjust.

"Rather than bombard our readers with images of Barbie doll models squeezing into size 8 jeans a week after giving birth, we reflect the fact that real women bear the battle scars of childbirth and should be proud of them.

"Real women are also likely to go off sex for a while."

She added: "It's important to remember that a new mum's love life will get better. She has just had a baby and her focus of attention has changed. This is perfectly natural and what nature intended."

Birth experience

Belinda Phipps, chief executive of the National Childbirth Trust, told BBC News Online: "Your sex life is probably going to be affected by the kind of birth you have.

"Caesarean sections are major abdominal surgery, swinging from the chandeliers is not high on the list of activities.

"After forceps and other instrumental births, your sex life tends not to be good. It has a lot of effect on your body image.

"People who have had a vaginal birth appear to be quickest back in the sack. If you have a good birth experience, you feel good about your body."

See also:

06 Feb 02 | Health
09 Sep 98 | Health
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