News / Halifax

#PostBabyHankyPanky: New Halifax research project encourages conversation on postpartum sex

New initiative designed to help couples navigate sex-related concerns after birth of a new baby.

Baby crying

Kirill Zdorov

Baby crying

A Halifax-based sex researcher is hoping a cheeky new project dubbed #PostBabyHankyPanky helps couples open up about sex in their post-baby lives.

“We know that sex plays a fundamental role in contributing to overall relationship satisfaction and quality of life, and this is a period of all sorts of new things going on in a couple’s life,” explained Dr. Natalie Rosen, clinical psychologist and associate professor of psychology at Dalhousie University and the IWK Health Centre.

“We also know there are dips and drops in relationship satisfaction related to all of these new stressors, and when sex drops off or when there are problems in the bedroom, that can exacerbate some of those relational issues.”

The #PostBabyHankyPanky project is a knowledge-sharing initiative that includes five short, amusing videos highlighting Rosen’s core research findings.

The videos and hashtag are designed to open up conversation about a topic some couples find tough to discuss.

“Talking about sex we know through other research is still one of the top most difficult issues for couples to discuss,” Rosen said.

“Throw a baby into the mix and it becomes even harder.”

Rosen has been researching postpartum sexuality for about seven years. She said the majority of couples she encountered through her research experienced many sex-related concerns after the birth of a baby.

In a sample of more than 250 couples from across North America, 90 per cent expressed sexual concerns that they deemed “moderately” distressing.

“In addition, 60 per cent of these couples endorsed between 15 and 20 sexual concerns…I expected that most people were facing some of these sexual concerns but I didn’t necessarily expect them to endorse most or all of them,” Rosen said.

“This is very, very common and really is on the minds of couples.”

Funded by the Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation, the #PostBabyHankyPanky initiative includes a launch event on Monday, Feb. 12 at the Halifax Public Library.

“Growing your family is a joy, but sex after baby can be complicated. We are here to help,” states a promotional piece for the interactive public event that includes a panel and question/answer period.

“There’s quite a body of literature that suggests new parents see this overall drop in their relationship satisfaction during this time…and we also know there’s a dip in their sexual functioning,” said Rosen.

“Most of what was looked at in the past was always more focused on mom, her drop in desire, potential for pain during intercourse after childbirth, that kind of thing, really neglecting the fact that sex happens between two people.”

The project's website includes additional information, resources and details about next week's free public launch event.

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