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Sex After Pregnancy

Learn how to keep the intimacy in your relationship while caring for a newborn.

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-Today, we're talking about something a lot of couples just don't like to discuss. Sex. And that can be even harder to talk about after you've had a baby. Well, sex therapist and author of "Love in the Time of Colic: The New Parents' Guide to Getting it on Again", Dr. Ian Kerner, is here to help you get the passion back in your marriage. And we're so glad you're here. -My pleasure. Thank you. -Thank you so much for coming in. Let's get right into it. Once you have a baby, you bring the baby home form the hospital-- -Yeah. -everything changes. And that usually-- -Yeah. -includes your sex life, right? -You know, absolutely. And you know, having a baby is one of the most joyous times in a couple's life. But you know, studies show that more than 60 percent of couples report a decline in relationship satisfaction following the birth of a child. So, it really does take a toll on your overall relationship, especially your-- the sexual intimacy side. -And this is not just something that you talk to patients about. You say in your book, you had this problem, too, after bringing your babies home. So you've lived it, and you can help everybody else. -I have totally lived it. In fact, the whole reason I really got the idea for the book is-- the reason I got the idea for the book is while I was sitting around in the living room, my wife is reading Dr. Seuss' Hop on Pop to my 4-year-old at that time. And I was saying to myself, "Hey, why don't you hop on this pop?" You know. Here is a Pop who needs some hopping. -I'm right here. I'm right here. -Yeah. Didn't-- you know. So, yeah. I have lived it. And originally, we were gonna call the book something like "Sleepless and Sexless". So, and both myself and my co-author really lived through it as we were writing the book. -It's not uncommon. A lot of parents deal with it. And typically, the doctor gives the mom-- be all clear-- -Yeah. -to have sex about six weeks after the-- -Yeah. -baby comes. -Yeah. -And the husband is just psyched to [unk] to go. -Oh. We're like, "Why can't it be four? I've heard four. I like Googled it on the internet and-- -Maybe two. -it's actually four, too." -Right. But the-- what the mom is thinking, "I-- this is not happening-- -Right. -right now. I'm not ready." -Right. -And there are a bunch of reasons why moms say they just are not in the mood. -Well, physiologically, it is possible to have sex. I mean, there is a period of healing after a childbirth. But after about six weeks, it is physiologically possible. But you know, the thing is, at that point, you're actually in a sex slump, whether you realize it or not, because you haven't had sex in at least six or seven weeks, and a few things happen. Testosterone levels go down in both men and women. And so, you sort of get habituated to not having sex. So, the block to having sex is sometimes more psychological than it is physiological. And yes, you are sleepless and women are often nursing and that raises oxytocin levels which sometimes reduces sexual desire. So, there is a lot happening. -So, let me throw out a few things that women say, and help us out. -Okay. -Tell us what you can do about it. Someone say, "I'm just too tired. I'm exhausted from being up all night with the baby." -You know, and I would say that sex is not really tiring if approached in a truly intimate connecting way. It's actually rejuvenating. I mean, people sort of report feeling better after sex. And sex has a lot of health benefits. And sex reduces stress. So, I think it's important to get yourself back into the habit and routine of having sex. And I think, sort of like "try it, you'll like it." You'll, you know, you'll discover that it's not so tiring. -It's good for you. Okay. How about, "I'm too busy. The baby is gonna be up in-- -Yeah. -in a few minutes. -Yeah. -I've got another feeding. -Yeah. -I need to get-- -Yeah. You know-- -I can't do this." -You know, sex needs to be pushed. Intimacy needs to be pushed to the top of the priority list. You know, last night even, for example, my wife spent you know, an hour and a half on Facebook, and I was like, you know, searching blogs. We do a lot-- even when you have kids, you do a lot of stuff that sort of fills some empty space. And in those empty spaces, we have to start filling it with an intimate connection. Doesn't have to be sex. You can just be holding hands, hugging, kissing. -Turn off the TV, put the computer away. -Turn off the BlackBerry. Absolutely. -How about, "I don't feel attractive. My body has changed. And I don't like the way I look, and you couldn't possibly like the way I look." -Yeah. Well, most women really get it wrong, because most guys think that their wives are hot. And they love the fact that their wives are moms, and they think that their wives are sexy as hell. And you know, very often, you know, you'll do date night, you'll get dressed up to go out. But you know, "Hey, we just think you're sexy when you're putting dishes in the dishwasher. And you may think you look terrible." -[unk] job is-- there in your sweats. -Yeah. Yeah. And so, I think-- I think that the attraction is still-- is still there. And that women need to know that men still find them sexy. -What about, "It's too painful?" -Well. -Maybe because of a tear or an episiotomy. -Absolutely. Well, you know, one thing that happens right after childbirth is it really affects overall lubrication. And that's just a physiological fact. So sometimes, there is pain, sometimes, there is a dryness. And honestly, the answer is lubrication, artificial lubricant-- it's really important for a woman, especially if she's afraid of painful sex. And it can be painful. -And that usually clears up over time. -Absolutely. -Okay. Let's talk about some issues that affect the husband now. Jealousy. Jealous of the baby. -Yeah. -"My wife is always with the baby. And it's become-- -Well-- -it's pulling us apart." -You know what it is for guys? Sex would-- is such an emotional connection. You know, guys don't express their feelings in a whole lot of ways. So, sex really becomes a primary conduit for feeling and expressing love. And when that connection is cut off with our wives, we sort of freak out. And that's really what leads-- it's not really jealousy of a child as much as what happen to our emotional connection, what happen to our intimate connection. -Let me run a couple of these by you-- before we run out of time. Wife's body. "My wife's body has changed. -Right. -Sex is different. I'm not feeling attracted-- -Right. -to her anymore." -Well, first of all, most guys' bodies change. I had-- my wife had two pregnancies, I had two sympathetic pregnancies. I gained 20 pounds, you know, each time. And so, my wife and I together went on a campaign of eating better, exercising together, caring more about our bodies. And so, I think it's something that you can really do together to get yourselves both back in shape. -And we're out of time. But should you see a sex therapist at some point? -After really communicating. -Okay. -And feeling like you can't get through. -Dr. Kerner, thank you so much for coming in. I think this will help a lot of people out. -Thank you. -All right. -Appreciate it. -If you have more questions about sex after baby, be sure to pick up a copy of Dr. Kerner's book, "Love in the Time of Colic: The New Parents' Guide to Getting it on Again". It's in bookstores now. Thank you so much for watching Parents TV. We'll see you soon.