One in eight new mothers are waiting for at least half a year before they resume having sex with their partners after childbirth, a poll suggests.
Some 13% of mothers said they waited for at least six months before they started to have sex again, according to the survey by the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS).
Meanwhile, almost a quarter (23%) said they resumed having sex within six weeks after giving birth.
“The sexual health needs of new mothers will be diverse and we need to find innovative ways to support them”
BPAS identified the main barriers that stopped women from resuming their usual sex habits as pain and exhaustion. It said that body image anxieties were also “widespread”.
Its poll of 1,350 mothers found that 45% said that they felt uncomfortable about their body after having a baby which put them off resuming sex.
“There is no set time to start having sex again after having a baby − all that should matter for women is that it feels right for them and that they have access to the contraception best suited to their needs if they wish to avoid another pregnancy straight away,” said BPAS director of external affairs Clare Murphy.
“We regularly see women experiencing unplanned pregnancy in the year after giving birth, sometimes because of confusing information about breastfeeding and contraception,” she said.
“The sexual health needs of new mothers will be diverse and we need to find innovative ways to support them,” she said. “This may mean ensuring more information is provided antenatally, enabling those women who want to leave hospital with contraception to do so − including with an advance supply of the morning-after-pill if she wishes.
“Contraception and sexual health clinics dedicated to the needs of women with young children would be welcome,” she added.