Did we really need researchers to tell us this? According to a recent study out of Penn State, new parents reported being less than satisfied with their sex lives. And a major factor for the lack of intimacy: Mom's stress level.
"We know that sexual satisfaction is an important element in relationships, but as far as we know, it hasn't been studied at this transition before. We wanted to know how parenting stress affects sexual satisfaction," says researcher Chelom E. Leavitt. So scientists studied 169 heterosexual couples who reported on their parenting stress six months after having a baby, and their overall sexual satisfaction at the one-year mark.
What they found was that the man's stress levels had little to no impact on feelings of sexual satisfaction for either partner, while the level of stress the woman was feeling definitely impacted this aspect of their relationship.
Why the discrepancy? Researchers point out that, generally, the mom bears most of the responsibility when it comes to caring for a new baby and beyond that, many feel deep societal pressure to be the "perfect mom." And "when new moms feel fatigued by the added responsibilities of parenting, they may feel less sexual. The sexual relationship is interdependent, so when a mom feels greater stress due to parenting, not only is her sexual satisfaction diminished, the dad's sexual satisfaction is also affected."
At the one-year mark, researchers found that the moms reported greater sexual satisfaction than the dads—69 percent of women said they were "very satisfied," while only 55 percent of men claimed the same.
We all know those first eight weeks (hell, the first year) of first-time motherhood are no walk in the park, so hopefully these findings will help therapists, doctors and parents better understand how difficult the transition to new parenthood can be for couples.