'I had a sense of loss. I mourned the marriage we once had - before our daughter was born'
‘Once home, it got worse. My husband decided he wanted our four-day-old baby to sleep between us in our bed. I was devastated. Our bed represented our love. I didn’t want a third person in it. And so the arguments began. If I said the baby needed the blinds in her room down, my husband said they needed to be up. If I said the bathwater was too hot, my husband would lower our daughter into it anyway, dismissing my concerns with a curt warning that I was becoming like his mother.
‘After a few weeks my husband announced he wanted to have sex. Just as my friend’s wife had warned, it was the last north face denali jackets for women thing I felt like. And that frightened me. Nobody explained to me that most women find sexual foreplay around the breasts repugnant when they are breastfeeding. And that breastfeeding can remove any remnants of a libido you might have after two months of broken sleep and a daily battle of the wills.
‘I’d heard the warnings about new fathers straying if they didn’t have their sexual needs met. So I went through the motions, heavily dependent on lubricant for the first time in my life. I went to my GP to ask for a check-up. “Just ask your husband to put more effort into foreplay,” she said. But we needed more than just foreplay. We needed professional help.
‘For three years we ploughed on not wanting to admit our unhappiness. I could manage during the week when my husband was at work. But I dreaded the moment he came home because the aggravation would start. And the sense of loss. I mourned the marriage we once had — before our daughter was born.’
The ebbing away of self-identity; the dwindling the north face jackets of physical intimacy and the misery it induces, are echoed in the survey. The British mums who were questioned, aged between 18 and their late 50s, agreed that motherhood has a negative effect on sex lives. Three's a crowd: British mums who were questioned, aged between 18 and their late 50s, agreed that motherhood has a negative effect on sex lives (posed by models)
A third felt they were simply seen as a mum and no longer as a lover. Only 2 per cent said their partner would consider them ‘sensual’, while more than one in five despairingly believed their spouses regarded them as ‘sexless’. Over three quarters said they made love less than before their children arrived and for many — especially young mothers — this led to a loss of self-confidence and a sense that a ‘mumsy’ persona had usurped their former, more confident selves.
So what is going on? Adrienne Burgess, head of research at the Fatherhood Institute believes many couples are engaged in a ‘dance of misunderstandings’ after the birth of a baby.
‘Often new mums make the assumption that their partner no longer fancies them,’ she says. ‘They feel fat and tired and lack confidence as a result, so they don’t put out sexual messages, and if the man is not proactive about complimenting them on their looks it becomes a vicious circle.
‘Research bears out the fact that most men still find their partners attractive after they’ve had a baby — sexual chemistry is bound up in so much more than looks — but they will also be aware that their partners are exhausted and they’ll tend not to be pushy about wanting sex.’
The experience of Ed Owen, 37, a writer from Tooting, South-West London, and dad to James, three, and Ben, one, corroborates this. ‘Immediately after our first son James was born, sex was unthinkable,’ recalls Ed, who runs the website DaddybeGood, and lives with his partner Lauren, 36, a social worker.
‘I’d expected a lull in activity — after all, Lauren had just given birth, she’d had stitches — but I didn’t anticipate that it would be a year before we got back to any semblance of normality.