Breast-Feeding and Sexuality
At Time 2, 1 month postpartum, we compared women who were currently breast-feeding (BF, n = 361, 68% of the sample) with those who were not (NBF, n = 169, 32% of the sample). Several differences were revealed (Table 2). NBF women were significantly more likely to have resumed intercourse (29%) than BF women (15%). Fathers’ reports confirmed this result.
Several measures of sexual satisfaction showed differences between the BF and NBF groups. Although there were no differences between BF and NBF women on a single item assessing sexual satisfaction, husbands or partners of NBF women indicated significantly more sexual satisfaction than husbands or partners of BF women. Although there were no differences between BF and NBF women in their ratings of how physically affectionate their partners were, husbands or partners of NBF women rated them as significantly more physically affectionate than husbands or partners of BF women. Both NBF women and their husbands or partners rated their sexual relationship as significantly more rewarding than BF women and their husbands rated theirs.
At Time 3, 4 months postpartum, BF women (n = 233) were still less likely than NBF women (n = 296) to have resumed intercourse; 85% of BF women and 95% of NBF women had. Ratings of satisfaction show similar results to those at Time 2. Various measures showed more sexual satisfaction among NBF couples, particularly among the husbands of NBF women.
By Time 4, 12 months postpartum, few women were still breastfeeding and most of the differences between BF and NBF groups had disappeared. Retrospective reports at Time 4 indicated that NBF women resumed intercourse significantly earlier on average (6.9 weeks) than BF women (7.8 weeks).