It’s long been a joke that the best form of contraception is a new baby. Most new parents rarely get a good night’s sleep and having sex is far down the list of priorities when you can barely keep your eyes open.
But a new study from Harvard University scientists raises a fascinating theory: that this is nature’s way of making sure there’s only room for your baby – at least for a while.
The research claims that reduced libido is not merely a side effect of having a baby – but a way to prevent you quickly getting pregnant again.
Put another way, babies are programmed to monopolise your attention to keep you from romping with your partner and so prevent the arrival of a new sibling. It’s certainly a novel form of contraception.
The report also claims breastfeeding at night extends a mother’s post-birth infertility, known as amenorrhoea.
Author Professor David Haig says: “Night waking increases in the second half of the first year of infant life and is more pronounced for breastfed babies.”
The evolutionary biologist explains that natural selection has played a part in all of this. Infants benefit from a delay before the next child is born in the family, and so making mum tired is all part of a baby’s life-preservation strategy (obviously subconsciously – they’re not that clever… are they?)
His study adds: “Short delays until the birth of a younger sibling are associated with increased mortality of infants and toddlers, especially in environments where resources are scarce or disease is rampant.
“Breastfeeding has many virtues but, for many mothers, a good night’s sleep is not counted among them.”
What do you think?