This newly published research has attracted much attention in media. The article was published in Sexual & Reproductive Healthcare in March. First-time parents have been followed eight years after birth of first child.
The experienced quality of the total couple relationship, measured with the Quality of Dyadic Relationship-index (QDR-index), declined after four years, but increased again at eight years after birth. The dimensions Consensus, Cohesion and Satisfaction showed the same pattern. However, the dimension Sensuality declined at four years but even more at eight years, and the dimension Sexuality remained low at all three occasions.
Also the parents without a new child were tired and had a low average sexual frequency (1-2/month). This result ought to be noticed as it is threatening the stability of the couple relationship. The divorce/separation rate is high among this group of parents of small children in Sweden (30% when first child is 8 years).
There are means the midwife can support parents as the following: Emphasize the importance of sensuality (hugs and caressing) when the sexuality might be reduced and expressions of wishes and mutual listening (good communication between the partners). Getting relief, involving time together without the child, has also been shown to be a predictor of relationship quality in one of the earlier studies on these first-time parents. Ongoing analyses of the factors contributing to separations are now performed in the sample of separated parents.
Quality of the intimate and sexual relationship in first-time parents – a longitudinal study (ScienceDirect.com)
Hanson M & Ahlborg T, 2012
Många par missnöjda med sexlivet efter första barnet (Press Release in Swedish)