Does sex after birth cause divorce?
Does sex after birth cause divorce?
Roughly a fifth of all marriages end within five years after the birth of the first child.
Reflexologist and Birth Doula Sophia Smith describes the pressures on relationships post-birth, and how reflexology and homely advice can support the parental relationship.
There are both physical and psychological deterrents to pleasurable sex for new parents.
Sheer physical exhaustion apart, there are numerous reasons why the new mother may take no interest in sex: the release of prolactin while breastfeeding depresses her libido; her body has yet to return to the shape that makes her feel attractive; she associates sex with pregnancy and the last thing she wants is to fall pregnant again. And if she was stitched too tightly, penetration might also be painful.
According to Ann Herreboudt, a London postnatal counsellor, about 40 per cent of the first-time mothers she sees have no sexual relations with their husbands for up to two years. “And if you take into account the latter stages of pregnancy, it’s even longer,” she says.
Carolyn Pape Cowan, PH.D and Philip A. Cowan PH.D were so concerned about the high incidence of marital distress and divorce among the parents of young children, that they decided to study systematically what happens to partners when they become parents.
Ninety-two percent of the men and women in the study who became parents described more conflict after having their baby than before they became parents. The division of workload in the family wins hands down as the issue most likely to cause conflict in the first two years. Women feel the impact of the transition more strongly during the first six months after birth, and their husbands feel it more strongly in the following year.
The Cowans believe that children are getting an unfair share of the blame for their parents’ distress. Based on 15 years of research that includes a three-year pilot study, a 10-year study following 72 expectant couples and 24 couples without children, and ongoing work with couples in distress, they are convinced that the seeds of new parents’ individual and marital problems are sown long before the baby arrives. Becoming parents does not so much raise new problems as bring old unresolved issues to the surface.
“A significant number of couples trace their sex problems back to the postnatal period. Often, they haven’t made love for a long time after birth and are having difficulty restarting their sex life. The important thing is that men be allowed to express their feelings of anger and resentment. The validation of those feelings will help to satisfy some men.”
Tangible support for parents that could help to avert divorce
Sophia Smith, BSc, MAR, NFSH – is a reflexologist, spiritual healer and doula, practising Maternity and Fertility Reflexology. She works with ‘Mother Nature’, helping couples with preconception preparation and with support through pregnancy, during birth, and postnatally.
As she describes in the video, Sophia’s work in pregnancy and post-birth offers practical and effective approaches that can significantly reduced the stress on the parents’ partnership. She has been described as a ‘midwife for the soul’, her treatments encompassing awareness of the incoming soul and presence of the baby.
How reflexology can help
Reflexology treatment involves massage strokes and gentle pressure on the feet, which reflect and influence the whole body’s anatomy. It is used to harmonise hormones and balance physiological function and as such is highly suited to pregnancy and preparation for birth. Described as ‘nature’s tranquillizer’, it promotes production of endorphins and natural oxytocin, the ‘love hormones’ that play a primary role in the birth process. Sessions are nurturing, comfortable and profoundly relaxing.
Sophia draws on her wide range of training and experience to deliver holistic and powerful treatments for almost anything that may occur in pregnancy. These include preparation or ‘priming’ for labour from the estimated due date to encourage a timely start to labour, or to help encourage a baby to turn from a breech position from 36 to 40 weeks.
And as Sophia relates in the video – the gentle relaxation promoted through reflexology can also have a positive effect on the physical relationship between the couple.
But are women taking the lack of sexual activity post birth seriously enough?
Postnatal counsellor Ann Herreboudt believes that: “Most say their husbands are fed up, but only half the women are concerned about it. That’s a big mistake. More marriages break up in the first 18 months after childbirth than at any other time…. it’s safe to assume that sex, or the lack of it, is a major contributing factor.”
A film by Suzy Miller.
With thanks to Sophia Smith (BSc, MAR, NFSH)
Music from 12 Hours
Additional music from Rights Free Music
suzyMillerCreator of Best Way To Divorce. International Divorce Divorce Strategist and TEDx Speaker.
6th March 2022
1st December 2023
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