'The trick is to accept that this is a transient north face jackets for cheap phase. Sex lives do recover'
‘Of course there are times when you think back to how your relationship used to be, but you have to remind yourself that you have this amazing, special new person in your life, and for a while you have to forget about the physical side of your relationship. You have to support each other. That’s the main thing.’
For Matt Milchard, 38, who is dad to five-month-old Oliver, hands-on fatherhood meant getting up at night to support his wife Laura, 26, while she was feeding. ‘At first he fed every three hours through the night, and although Laura was breastfeeding I would get up and help, too,’ he says. ‘I work so hard I rarely get more than four hours’ sleep a night anyway, so it doesn’t make much difference. Oliver rarely goes to sleep before midnight, so we are with him all night.
‘Actually, Laura is the one who may north face jackets 50% off feel “pushed out”, because I rarely put him down — I love hugging him,’ says Matt, who lives in Greenwich, South-East London, and runs two children’s party businesses.
This equable view of parenting will chime with a third of couples, says Adrienne Burgess. She points out that research tends to conclude that 33 per cent of new parents believe their relationship has not changed much; that the tired and grumpy phase will pass and that their sex lives will recover.
A third say their relationship is enhanced by the arrival of the baby — although she concedes it is unlikely they will be; ‘having sex all the time’ — and a further third complain that their relationships have worsened‘This third will say they are not communicating, that they are constantly rowing, and sex — or lack of it north face outlet — will often be a part of that,’ she says.
‘The trick is to accept that this is a transient phase. Sex lives do recover. Usually they don’t revert to the pre-baby intensity and regularity. The trajectory is gently downwards, both in terms of frequency and levels of passion, but that’s the way of the world. So couples should not worry if they make love less often after they’ve had a baby.’
In another survey by Netmums, the majority of women (27 per cent) waited six - eight weeks after giving birth before having sex
The impact of becoming a first-time father is routinely underestimated, experts agree. Education programmes focus almost exclusively on the new mum’s role while the fresh burden of responsibility — both financial and physical — borne by dads is often over-looked.
Even before their new babies enter the world, dads, it seems, have to intuit what is required of them. It begins in the delivery room, ‘where men are expected to be birth coaches, which is absolutely ridiculous,’ says Adrienne. ‘How are they supposed to know what’s going on? They should just be there to bear witness to what’s happening and try to help keep the atmosphere calm.’
One solution is to shift the bias of parenting education programmes to include dads, and to acknowledge the vital role they play. ‘Men who are the main breadwinners get bloody tired after a day’s work in the office but they often don’t get recognition for it,’ says Adrienne.
‘Mums tend to be the ones who’ve had the broken nights and that’s ghastly, but instead of saying, “It’s all right for you. I was up four times last night” perhaps they should try being sympathetic to their husbands and partners. And the important thing to bear in mind is that the exhaustion will pass.’
For Philippa the answer was more radical: after three years spent fruitlessly trying to exhume their pre-baby happiness, she and her husband sought counselling. ‘In just one session I offloaded “my stash of resentments” as we now laughingly refer to them,’ she recalls. ‘My husband listened astonished. Then he apologised. Over eight sessions we learned that a breakdown of communication was our problem, not a lack of love. We learned both of us had been trying our best. And we learned that we still love each other very much.’
For Ed, solace came eventually, simply through the over-riding joy that parenting brings. He sums it up: ‘There is a happy ending. Things improve and you learn to become a team — mum, dad and baby.
‘It takes a while before you realise that this team has another name, too: it’s a family. It creeps up on you by stealth; you’ve become a family. And after all, that’s what life is about, isn’t it?’