Most new mums start having sex again six to eight weeks after giving birth to their first child, a new study has revealed.
Conducted by a team at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, and looking at the sexual habits of 1507 first-time mothers living in Melbourne, the research found that 41 per cent of mums had resumed vaginal sex within six weeks after delivery.
This is useful information for couples to know, and may help reduce feelings of anxiety and guilt about not resuming sexual activity sooner.
By eight weeks, that number had risen to 65 per cent by eight weeks, then 78 per cent by 12 weeks.
Six months after birth, 94 per cent of women had resumed their sex life.
Some sort of sexual activity usually took place before vaginal sex, with 53 per cent saying they had engaged in a sexual activity in the first six-week period.
The study's lead author, Associate Professor Stephanie Brown, said that the most important finding from the study is the wide time frame in which couples resume sex.
"Most couples do not resume sex until after six to eight weeks postpartum, [but] many delay much longer than this," she said.
"This is useful information for couples to know before their baby is born, and may help reduce feelings of anxiety and guilt about not resuming sexual activity sooner."
The study found that older mums took longer to get back into sex. In the 30-34 age group, 40 per cent of woman started having sex again in the first six-week period, compared with 63 per cent of women aged 18-24.
Mums who underwent a caesarean or who had intervention also spent a longer period of time before resuming sexual activity: at six weeks, 45 per cent of women who had a C-section, and 32 per cent who had forceps involved, said they had resumed vaginal sex.
Experiencing an incision or tear in the perineum also lengthened the time before sex started again. Only 32 per cent of women who had had an incision, and 35 per cent who had a tear, had resumed their sex life by six weeks, in comparison to the 60 per cent of women who had no intervention in a normal vaginal birth.
John Thorp, deputy editor in chief of the BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, in which the study was published, said, "It is very common for women and their partners to want information about when sexual activity may be safely and comfortably resumed, and what to expect in relation to the impact of childbirth on their relationship."
"Having reliable information to guide clinical practice can dispel common myths about what is normal during the postnatal period, as well as enabling clinicians to tailor information to a woman's individual circumstances. This study provides important new evidence to guide information given to women and their partners about what to expect after childbirth.
"However, it is important to remember that these decisions are down to the individual couple and when it feels right for them."
- Essential Baby
Do you flirt?Related story: (See story)