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Fatherhood in focus, sexual activity can wait: new fathers’ experience about sexual life after childbirth

Authors

  • Ann Olsson RNM, PhD,

    (Lecturer)
    1. Department of Clinical Sciences, Division of Caring Science, Danderyd Hospital, Karolinska Institutet, Solna
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  • Eva Robertson RNM, PhD,

    (Senior Author)
    1. Department of Woman and Child Health, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm
    2. Borås University College of Health Science, Borås
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  • Anders Björklund MDr, PhD,

    (Senior Research Fellow)
    1. Department of Clinical Sciences, Division of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Danderyd Hospital, Karolinska Institutet, Solna
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  • Eva Nissen RNMTD, PhD

    (Professor)
    1. Department of Woman and Child Health, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm
    2. School of Life Science, University of Skövde, Skövde, Sweden
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Ann Olsson RNM, PhD, Department of Woman and Child Health, Karolinska Institutet, Retzius väg 13 A, SE 171 77 Stockholm, Sweden.
E-mail: Ann.Olsson@ki.se

Abstract

Scand J Caring Sci; 2010; 24; 716–725
Fatherhood in focus, sexual activity can wait: new fathers’ experience about sexual life after childbirth

Background:  Becoming a parent is overwhelming for most men and women and alters the sexual relationship for many couples.

Aim:  To describe fathers’ experience about sexual life after childbirth within the first 6 months after childbirth.

Method:  A descriptive design, using content analysis with a qualitative approach, based on focus group discussions and one-to-one interviews.

Participants:  Eight first-time and two subsequent fathers participated.

Results:  Three subthemes were identified: Struggling between stereotypes and personal perceptions of male sexuality during transition to fatherhood; new frames for negotiating sex; a need to feel safe and at ease in the new family situation. The overarching theme emerged as ‘transition to fatherhood brings sexual life to a crossroads’ and guided us to a deeper understanding of the difficulties men experience during the transition to fatherhood. To get sexual life working, a number of issues had to be resolved, such as getting involved in the care of the baby and the household and getting in tune with their partners in regard to sexual desire. The men needed to be reassured and prepared for this new situation by health care professionals.

Conclusions:  New fathers in our study put the baby in focus in early parenthood and were prepared to postpone sex until both parties were ready, although they needed reassurance to feel at ease with the new family situation. The fathers’ perceptions of sexual life extended to include all kinds of closeness and touching, and it deviated from the stereotype of male sexuality. This is important information for health care providers and midwives to be aware of for their encounters with men (and women) during the transition to fatherhood, and parenthood and can contribute to caring science with a gender perspective on adjustment of sexual life after childbirth.

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