Female sexual functioning and level of self - esteem after childbirth - An introductory report
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Department of Obstetrical and Gynecological Nursing, Institute of Nursing and Midwifery, Faculty of Health Sciences with the Institute of Maritime and Tropical Medicine, Medical University of Gdansk, Gdansk, Poland
Publication date: 2023-10-24
Corresponding author
Wanda Kwiatkowska   

Department of Obstetrical and Gynecological Nursing, Institute of Nursing and Midwifery, Faculty of Health Sciences with the Institute of Maritime and Tropical Medicine, Medical University of Gdansk, Gdansk, Poland
Eur J Midwifery 2023;7(Supplement 1):A142
Childbirth brings about changes that can affect a mother’s sexuality, including less time, energy, sleep and focus in new family roles. The accepted global recommendations like WHO (World Health Organization), UNICEF (United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund) and AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) recommend that infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of their life, and breastfeeding should continue for up to two years or beyond to achieve optimal baby’s growth1–4. Though breastfeeding can be a meaningful, enriching experience, it can adversely influence a woman’s sexuality5. Changes in hormone levels after labor can impact sexual function and affect desire and arousal6. Most women do not resume sexual activity for 6-8 weeks after labor. However, within three months of the delivery, 80-93% of new mothers resume intercourse7. During this time, two out of three women experience at least one problem connected to sexual functioning, including decreased libido, difficulty achieving orgasm, vaginal dryness or dyspareunia8. Decreased sexual activity in the postnatal period may result from reduced interest in sex, post-partum pain, tender breasts, and leaking milk6,10,11. One of the factors affecting sexual functioning after childbirth may be a change in body image. Womens’ self-esteem during pregnancy and after childbirth may be damaged by changes in physique, and accommodating for motherhood, during which a woman often loses her sense of identity. The aim of this study is to investigate factors affecting for sexual functioning after childbirth, with particular reference to body esteem.

Material and Methods:
A cross-sectional study is conducted in a group of women in the postpartum period. The study design included a questionnaire for characterizing sociodemographic, medical history and breastfeeding variables, the PL-FSFI (Female Sexual Function Index) and Body Esteem Scale and the SES Self-Esteem Scale of M. Rosenberg. All statistical analysis will be performed on dedicated software.

There was statistically significant difference between the groups that practiced different types of breastfeeding. Preliminary results show that 50% of women surveyed, after pregnancy, consider themselves less attractive than before pregnancy. In turn, 75% report that they did not know about a contraceptive method such as LAM, despite the fact that patients from the 24th week of pregnancy are covered according to the Organizational Standard for Perinatal Care with pre-breastfeeding education. In addition, 12.5% of respondents report feeling psychological discomfort at the thought of breastfeeding.

Sexual activity is an important subject in every woman’s life that is still not discussed enough. Realizing the connection between self-esteem and sexual activity is key to helping women have a more satisfying sexual life after childbirth.

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.
This research received no external funding.
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Breastfeeding vs. Formula Feeding and Maternal Sexuality among Polish Women: A Preliminary Report
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