Research shows almost one in five new fathers did not resume lovemaking for more than three months.

One in three reported making love to their wives in the first six weeks, with a similar proportion having sex between seven and 12 weeks.

Among the reasons cited for delay was concern about the woman’s physical condition following childbirth.

But lack of time was a major factor in damping down a father’s libido, according to a US study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

It investigated the sexual behaviour and enjoyment of 114 partners of new mothers during the first three months after childbirth.

Zita West, a leading British fertility expert and midwife, said the findings bore out her own experience of new parenthood, suggesting it takes much longer to get back to normal than couples expect.

She said: ‘Very little research has been done on new fathers. Most of the attention focuses on the mother, breastfeeding and the baby’s health.

‘After the excitement of the early days, many men are going back to work exhausted and often feeling excluded by the bond between mother and baby, particularly when they are breastfeeding.’

She said women tend to focus on the postnatal check at around six weeks as the ‘all-clear’ to resume their sex life, but both parents should accept it may take longer.

‘There are physical barriers people never tell you about, like breastfeeding can cause night sweats.

'Patience is the key and enjoying the intimacies of kissing and hugging, because either partner can feel nervous and tense about having sex again.’

Researchers from the University of Michigan measured the behaviour and attitude of new fathers aged between 19 and 54 using several questionnaires and rating scales.

Altogether 82 per cent reported re-engagement of sexual intercourse within the first three months after birth. Interviews carried out up to two years later found all had resumed their sex lives.

Lack of time was among the critical factors influencing sexual desire, along with the baby’s sleeping habits, physical discomfort for either partner and personal level of fatigue.

In contrast to previous studies, mothers’ breastfeeding did not make the father feel less amorous.

Neither did interventions undergone by the mother during a natural delivery, such as stitches or extraction, affect the father’s desire, apart from the need for healing time.

Miss West, author of The Zita West Pregnancy Companion, said the findings should dash the myth that new fathers sail through the early months.

‘Some men do feel exhausted, especially once they get back into the normal routines when they’re back at work,’ she added.

‘They often feel tired as they’re also woken up at night and they don’t get enough rest when they get home because they want to share time with the family.

'Both mother and father need to recognise the stresses and strains, including the pressure to get back to normal, and give each other space and time.’

Read more at the Mail Online.

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