It’s time for a new episode of the Bare Marriage podcast!
I hope you all will listen, but if you don’t have time, I’ll have some links and rabbit trails below so you can read all you want as well!
And consider this podcast “extras”. If you want to go deeper into what I talked about in the podcast, here are some more things to help you.
But first, here’s the podcast:
Main Segment: Sex After Babies
How do you manage sex, intimacy, and emotional closeness after the baby arrives? Does the postpartum period, with its sleepless nights and physical hurdles, simply not lend itself to feeling close and connected with your spouse?
Joanna and Rebecca tackle this on today’s podcast getting pretty open and honest about their experiences and what they wish they had known ahead of time!
A quick note from Rebecca: talking about this kind of personal stuff on a podcast is incredibly strange. It really makes sense why so many women simply aren’t told what to expect ahead of time because this stuff is tough to talk about! It’s personal, it’s awkward, and it’s hard to know if you’re the only one or not.
So I’m wondering–any of you out there who had women in your life tell you what to expect in a really helpful way? What did they do right? We hear a lot about how we don’t talk about this enough, but I’d love to hear from some women who DO feel like they were prepared!
And if you’re expecting a baby or simply want to hear what else we’ve had to say on the matter of postpartum sex, check out this post and podcast:
Reader Question: My Husband Won’t Do What It Takes to Get Baby Into Her Own Room
This is a bit of a different one–usually whenever we get questions about cosleeping or room-sharing it’s from husbands who are desperate but scared their wives will be offended! But here’s one from a woman who is seriously at the end of her rope. She wants her sleep back, she wants to be able to have space to have sex again!
I have an almost one year old still camping out in my (our) bedroom every night because her bedroom has yet to be remodeled. It is currently a storage room for my husband’s tools mostly. We have to get a shed for those, plus put flooring in, paint, etc. we had bought this house in foreclosure and her room is the last to be fixed. I have told my husband how her presence in our room hurts my sleep, she is impossible to night wean as she sleeps right next to our bed and has ears like no other child we’ve had. Plus our intimacy has taken a hit.
He acknowledges all this, but doesn’t actually DO anything towards moving her out. I have two other young children, so my free time is limited. He works long hours at a physically demanding job and wants to rest when he gets home. I understand that, and I don’t expect things to happen over night, but we’ve known this needed to be finished since she was conceived–almost two years and zero progress!
Keith and Sheila tackle this one, and it’s a pretty specific situation, but for more general posts on what to do when your spouse wants to cosleep or room-share past the AAP recommended age and you do not check out these:
That’s all for this week–sorry this is a shorter post, but we’ll be back to our normal ones when Sheila is back from vacation! For now, enjoy the podcast and the linked posts here and have a wonderful Thursday.
We got pregnant by surprise while living in a less-than-700-sq-ft apartment. (We still live there because we are trying to save up for a house.) Our daughter slept in our room until 18 months or so, when she began affecting our ability to sleep. When we realized we needed to get her out of our room, we moved her to the couch in the den, and she has slept there ever since (she’s 2.5 now). Someday we will have room for a bed for her, but right now we don’t, so that’s our solution. Like you said, babies don’t care about or need a fancy finished nursery. Often being creative with what you have is enough to solve the problem at hand.
I love your blog & listen eagerly every Thursday!
I don’t agree with the overall approach taken regarding baby/toddler sleep. This is a divisive topic so I wish it could just be left out of the discussion, although I definitely understand why you include it.
I would say to new moms regarding infant sleep, lower your expectations. Realize that it won’t be forever, and it is biologically normal for babies to need their caregiver. Get any additional support that you need to help get the rest you need, but keep your expectations of your baby low.
I had twins first & immediately started them on a strict schedule of wake, bottle feed, “play” or change bum etc, then in bed with soother to sleep like clockwork. I consistently responded to them when they cried but snuggled them the absolute minimum as I wanted them to be independent sleepers. They didn’t consistently sleep through the night until they were 3 years old, so it’s arguable that all my efforts didn’t even work. I look back & have huge regrets about not just holding them, brings tears to my eyes & probably always will. It’s just a short period of time that they need their caregivers so intensely. Sure I wouldn’t have been able to have sex so often, but I could still have connected with my husband in other ways & I would have enjoyed a more secure attachment with my babies as well.
I agree. I haven’t listened to the podcast yet, but I would also echo the idea that most babies only need intensive nighttime parenting for a short period of their lives (which is even shorter, in ratio, to the length of a marriage) and that co-sleeping parents do have ways to be creative about where they have sex, especially if they have an extra bedroom (maybe even an unused nursery!). Some babies sleep through the night at four months, and that’s great, but it’s far from the statistical norm, and the push to move baby out as soon as possible sets up a lot of parents for great frustration and disappointment. I think that a couple’s sexual relationship needs to be strong and flexible enough to accommodate the real and intense needs of young children; adults can adjust things like the time of day or location of where they have sex, and little babies don’t have to “ruin” their sex lives.
Yes, definitely agree about the short-term intensive night-time parenting. We are keeping our baby boy in our room until 6 months likely, unless he is ready to move out sooner. He’s 4 months now, and it doesn’t seem like it though!
But the reality is that children simply do not need to room share after 6 months in the vast, vast majority of cases and definitely are able to sleep on their own by 12 months. So no one is saying little babies “ruin” sex lives–but parenting choices can make it much more difficult if one day you wake up and there is a 4 year old, a 2 year old, and a 6 month old all sleeping in the same room as you and your husband. And the amount of emails we get about this is staggering–and often one spouse is completely unwilling to change anything despite there being no medical, psychological, or developmental need for the children to still be room-sharing.
Who needs a bedroom when you have a couch (or insert any other piece of furniture)? I call co-sleeping an opportunity to get creative! 😉
I felt prepared for every aspect of having a baby except the sex aspect after. Having very open friends made me excited and prepared for all three deliveries, the struggles that came with breastfeeding (and later on tandem feeding) and struggling with unexpected pregnancies. I think one reason we don’t discuss the intimacy aspect is because often the conversations happen with little ears nearby. Not so much with your first, but most of my friends have preschool aged children and older, my own oldest is 3. The other thing is that preparing for a lot of the messiness is just about you and baby. Women can be less willing to open up when the conversations start to include details about their husbands. I’m less willing to be personal when it’s not just my intimate details I’m sharing….
Midwives are a great resource though. My midwife has been very good at talking to me after each birth and always includes some questions about intimacy.
The other tricky thing about talking about it is that it’s never the same. You’d think with our third baby we’d have this awkward postpartum time figured out… it’s totally different with different challenges! Both because more kids equal less time, but also because the hormones themselves seem to act differently with each baby!
I’m a fairly new listener, but am really enjoying listening to the podcast, thank you for making it! I am a Registered Nurse from the U.S., and just wanted to mention that there are also licensed Nurse Practitioner Midwives (generally 3 year program) in the U.S. as well as Certified Midwives (that might not have had as extensive medical training). Just for future reference to speak to your state-side listeners! 😉
SUCH an important clarification, Sarah–in Ontario, where I am, “midwife” refers to the equivalent of a licensed Nurse Practitioner, not simply a certified midwife. They have hospital privilege, they study and have placements, it’s a licensed practice with title protection.
I seriously recommend that whoever your medical care provider is for your pregnancy, make sure they are licensed and have extensive training in their field!!
Thank you for bringing that up. I forget that these things are different in the US!
I was actually coming to comment the same thing as a nurse in the states! I have two children 2 years old and a 2 month old, both delivered by a midwife nurse practitioner who is licensed by the state. She has privileges in the hospital and can write prescription, all that good stuff! She was the absolute best! It is so important to make sure they are licensed and educated! 😊
I feel a little ridiculous coming back and posting yet a third time, but I just can’t stop thinking about the whole topic. Probably a sign I’ve been in this season too long! That’s just the thing though… the word season makes it sound relatively short. 4 months to a year or maybe two. But for a lot of moms, this season feels endless because it repeats. I’ve been in this season for 4 years already and definitely have at least another 18 months of breastfeeding ahead. 5 years feels like a long season and if we have another “happy accident ” then you’re looking at an even longer time! This is why it’s SO important to have older moms coming alongside to encourage and remind us that a seemingly endless season isn’t actually endless. And to encourage us to fall in love again and again as we watch our husbands become fathers and to keep the fun and friendship alive!
Ha don’t feel ridiculous, I totally understand when something is just on your mind and you have to “get it out!” 🙂
And I agree about the whole “Season” comment–so often it’s easy to look back and think, “Wow, that flew by” but while you’re in it it seems like forever!
I also think that a lot of the conversation needs to shift to give women the ability to seek ways to make the season of early child rearing less stressful/exhausting without shame or guilt. For us, it was a sleep principles course we took when Alex was just 5 weeks old (loved it so much that if Alex doesn’t sleep at 6 months we’re doing the same woman’s full sleep-training course). But you would not believe how many people messaged me saying they felt too guilty to teach their kids to sleep because of what other parents were saying, but they were struggling with PPD or just sheer exhaustion so much they were starting to resent their kids. Stuck between a rock and a hard place with nowhere to turn does not make the season feel any shorter.
I love what you said about older moms coming alongside newer ones to help out–and we need to remember that just because someone already has a kid or two doesn’t mean that they’ve got this in the bag and don’t need help anymore–it might just mean that the support they need is different because the basic skills are there already. I see that often in churches–first baby gets TONS of help and support; by the 3rd kid not so much. I’d love to see that change.
I’m a new mom, but an older mom. My strident thoughts on mom guilt:
At least in America, the pressure put on mothers is insane, and there aren’t even benefits to it. We tell mothers that they are supposed to exclusively breastfeed for at least six months, despite the fact that the actual science indicates that the benefits are very small (like, 1-2 IQ points, no changes in infections; see Emily Oster’s breakdowns of the studies). We tell them that they are supposed to sleep with their babies in the same room for 12 months because it might reduce the risk of SIDS, although we aren’t even sure if that’s true. We’re supposed to give them organic food, enroll them in extracurricular activities from the age of 4, not conceive until we have a 3-bedroom, 3-bathroom house, etc.
It’s just madness.
Let’s talk about the things that actually harm children and happen in substantial numbers: abortion (about 20% of pregnancies end that way). Unmarried child-rearing (40% of kids who are born). Opioid addiction. Abuse. Mental illness. Grinding poverty (not “My baby lives in a townhouse and not a house in the suburbs”). Thirty percent or so of women don’t go to their recommended prenatal appointments. About half of babies born are born to mothers on Medicaid.
If you are a healthy, married, middle-class family with no addictions, your child is already doing so much better than so many other kids. When people shake their fists about breastfeeding or co-sleeping it’s just status signalling. My husband and I snark that a lot of the mommy guilt heaped on women, by women, is really a novel way of saying, “Look at how rich my husband is; I can pour resources of time and money, which you don’t have, into my offspring.”
But hey, I was abused growing up, had my life threatened hundreds of times, was told that I was going to be jailed or killed if I talked about the abuse (untreated mental illness affects the whole family, people!), and had a parent ditch me as a toddler to move hundreds of miles away and live it up in a big city. So pardon me if I have little patience with people who think that my married, Christian, loving, anti-abuse, mentally healthy parenting is sub-par. I worry constantly about not being a good enough mom, but I’m worried about not showing my son how much he is loved, how special he is, and how much God loves him.
Just for the record, I’m from the US and had my four babies with licensed midwives in the hospital, the same situation you were describing. I loved the midwives and the personal time they had for me. I would definitely recommend them highly. I did not, however, have anyone walk me through postpartum sex. I think this is a much needed post.
I did not know about pelvic floor physiotherapists, which would have been helpful since I tore like crazy with my first child. (It took the midwife an hour to stitch me up and the lidocaine kept wearing off.) I had painful sex every time afterwards due to scar tissue until my next child was born 22 months later.
I wonder if midwife regulations are different from state to state? No idea, really! I think in Canada it may even be different province to province. Ontario’s pretty good, really, and we did have a good experience with Rebecca’s baby’s birth.
I think pelvic floor physiotherapists are really well-known in Europe, getting better known in Canada, and hardly known at all in the U.S. I hope we can change that trend!
Love the blog, love the podcasts, love the staff! A bit disappointed with the misunderstanding of US midwives and hospital births vs home birth in general…as a birth worker myself, I’m a Doula, I am trying not to get emotional due the ignorance about licensing/education of birth attendants, safety of hospital births (statics of hospital births vs home birth), and generalizing opinion vs fact. I have attended both types of births and both types of birth in emergency situations. I would choose a home birth for myself and to attend any day, outside of known high risk situations. Midwives in US who practice home births are trained, licensed, and equipped to deal with emergency situations while working on a transfer to a hospital, if needed. Pregnancy and labor are generally not medical conditions that require at hospital unless there is a known condition. Your ministry is based on research, wish there was some done based on labor and birth before sharing opinions about your experiences. So glad you ladies are healing! Prayers for continued recovery and future births!!
Gina, thanks for the encouragement, and I’m glad that you enjoy the blog!
We are, however, Canadian. I’m honoured that Americans listen to me, but I simply can’t keep up with all the regulations all over the world. We can share about Ontario, where we live, but regulations are very different. I hope that you would understand that not everyone is American, too!
Hi there, loved listening to this podcast. This is such an important topic and deserves more discussion. I hope more people listen to this. Keep bringing more informational content like this.