Postpartum Body Satisfaction and Intimacy in First-Time Parents
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Research on postpartum body satisfaction and intimacy focuses almost exclusively on mothers. Furthermore, much of the research tends to be descriptive in nature. As a consequence, little is known about the association of postpartum body satisfaction and intimacy in first-time mothers and fathers. The current study interviewed 85 heterosexual married/cohabiting couples from all over the U.S. 9 months following the birth of their first child. New mothers reported significantly less postpartum body and intimacy satisfaction than new fathers. Using an actor-partner interdependence model approach, we found that fathers’ self and partner body satisfaction are both directly and indirectly (through his perceived partner rejection) linked to his intimacy satisfaction. For mothers, partner and self-body satisfaction were only indirectly linked to her intimacy satisfaction through perceived partner rejection of sexual advances. Finally, fathers’ perceived partner rejection was related to both his and his partner’s intimacy satisfaction. These results suggest that body and intimacy satisfaction following the birth of a child is not only relevant for mothers but also for fathers. In order to better understand how the transition to parenthood impacts couples and their relationship, future theory and research needs to incorporate fathers and their understanding of their bodies and its connection with postpartum intimacy.
KeywordsFirst-time mothers and fathers Body satisfaction Postpartum intimacy
We would like to acknowledge Janis H. Crowther and the anonymous reviewers for their helpful feedback on earlier drafts. The current study was supported by a grant to the first author from the Ohio Board of Regents.
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