More fathers are choosing to take periods of unpaid leave after having a baby, adding to the financial pressure on families during the infant's first year.
According to a survey of 1,000 prospective parents for new Partnership credit card from the John Lewis Partnership and HSBC, nearly a third (31 per cent) of fathers-to-be intend to take more than a month off work after the birth of their child, while one in 12 said they hope to take in excess of four months off.
Fifty-eight per cent of new mums, meanwhile, said they would take more than the six months statutory paid maternity leave they can currently claim, with one in eight saying that they expect to take more than two years off work to bring up the baby.
At the other end of the scale, one in 10 mums said they would return to some form of work within three months of giving birth to keep a second income coming in.
The research comes after the government pledged to increase paid maternity leave to nine months by 2007 and to a full year by the end of the next parliament.
Most new mothers are currently entitled to 90 per cent of average earnings for the first six weeks of their leave, followed by a maximum of £102.80 a week for a further 20 weeks. This will be increased to £106 a week from April.
New dads currently only get up to two weeks' paid leave - although under recent proposals, men would be able to take some of their partner's maternity pay allowance.