By Heather Oliveira and Jackie Huberman
This is a summary of our published article: Huberman, S. J., Allsop, D. B., & Rosen, N. O. (2022). Associations between new mothers’ partner-oriented sexual values and sexual distress in the transition to parenthood. The Journal of Sex Research, https://doi.org/10.1080/00224499.2022.2089969
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What did we want to know?
We aimed to understand the relationship between new mothers’ sexual distress across pregnancy and postpartum and how much they value their role as a sexual partner as well as their success living in line with this value. We focused on a partner-oriented sexual value (i.e., the importance of one’s role as a sexual partner) because interpersonal values tend to be motivating and important, and new mothers often experience sexual challenges in the context of a relationship.
What did we do?
We asked 367 women* to complete surveys on their experiences during pregnancy (second trimester) and at 3-, 6-, 12-, and 24-months postpartum. At each time point, women were asked to report on their sexual distress, the importance of “Being the kind of sexual partner you want to be for your significant other in life”, and their success living in line with this value.
*All participants identified as female and as a woman; thus, we refer to them as women or mothers.
What did we find?
We found that, when new mothers placed more value on their role as a sexual partner, they reported more sexual distress in the transition to parenthood. However, when new mothers felt more successful living in line with their value as a sexual partner, they reported less sexual distress.
Why does this matter?
Women who more strongly value their role as a sexual partner might find it more distressing to face new challenges in their sexual relationship during the transition to parenthood. Importantly, finding potentially new or flexible ways to live in line with sexual values could protect against sexual distress in new mothers. Research has shown that connecting with values and taking action towards values is associated with better emotional wellbeing.  Therefore, further research on strategies that could help new mothers identify their values related to sexuality and find ways to live in line with them could reduce their sexual distress and, in turn, may improve their sexual and relationship wellbeing, during this vulnerable period.
 Vannier, S. A., & Rosen, N. O. (2017). Sexual distress and sexual problems during pregnancy: Associations with sexual and relationship satisfaction. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 14(3), 387–395. https:// doi.org/10.1016/j.jsxm.2016.12.239
 Rosen, N. O., Dawson, S. J., Leonhardt, N. D., Vannier, S. A., & Impett, E. A. (2021). Trajectories of sexual well-being among couples in the transition to parenthood. Journal of Family Psychology, 35(4), 523–533. https://doi.org/10.1037/fam0000689
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