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Apathetic About Sex Since Baby's Birth

QUESTION: My husband and I have been married for two years and have a beautiful and very happy eight-month-old girl. We have an excellent marriage and I am sexually attracted to my husband but neither of us feel interested in sex since our baby's birth. We have only had sex eight times in the past eight months. It is part scheduling conflict and partly due to the fact that I am still nursing quite often, and feel touched out. I don't want this to become a problem for us. What can we do?

ANSWER: Sex is often the most vulnerable part of a relationship, and it can atrophy if not tended. However, the good news is that this does not seem to be the case in your marriage!

You and your husband are enjoying a sexual relationship. The decrease in frequency is a natural one and the fact that you are talking about it means you are communicating to boot. Share your fear with him that he might be overprotective of you, causing him not to fully express his feelings about this subject. Allow for processing disappointment and pleasure in the changes parenthood has brought to your relationship. But also allow him the opportunity to accommodate the additional pressures of parenthood and the fact that both of you are putting energy into the growth and care of another human being. The physical demands on your body commonly decrease libido as do work and job pressures for both men and women.

Scheduling is a fact of life with children and can decrease spontaneity and frequency in the sexual relationship of the couple. It is important to protect your relationship during the enormous changes that occur in the early years of parenthood. Quality of sex may be more important than quantity. Scheduling private couple time together makes your partner feel loved and considered. Even though it may not be as often as you wish, being able to look forward to relaxing together, sharing your experiences and the changes you have undergone individually and as a couple is necessary foreplay! And it may be interrupted foreplay that begets consummation days or even weeks later. But rest assured that sharing will result in greater desire for closeness and a desire to make time for future lovemaking a priority in your busy schedules.

The demands of babies and toddlers are more physically exhausting than parenting school aged children. Your libido will ebb and flow and being in sync with each other's sexual needs will falter more often during this period. However it is important to maintain the sexual aspect of your relationship while adjusting to these needs. If a marriage begins to resemble more that of a brother and sister and less the quality of a husband and wife relationship, sex can threaten to disappear altogether. Scheduling time for romance and communicating a sense of "specialness" to your partner takes increased effort after children arrive on the scene. But it keeps the fire burning. A low level flame is easily rekindled. Cold ashes are not.


Gayle Peterson, MSSW, LCSW, PhD is a family therapist specializing in prenatal and family development. She trains professionals in her prenatal counseling model and is the author of An Easier Childbirth, Birthing Normally and her latest book, Making Healthy Families. Her articles on family relationships appear in professional journals and she is an oft-quoted expert in popular magazines such as Woman's Day, Mothering and Parenting. . She also serves on the advisory board for Fit Pregnancy Magazine.

Dr. Gayle Peterson has written family columns for ParentsPlace.com, igrandparents.com, the Bay Area's Parents Press newspaper and the Sierra Foothill's Family Post. She has also hosted a live radio show, "Ask Dr. Gayle" on www.ivillage.com, answering questions on family relationships and parenting. Dr. Peterson has appeared on numerous radio and television interviews including Canadian broadcast as a family and communications expert in the twelve part documentary "Baby's Best Chance". She is former clinical director of the Holistic Health Program at John F. Kennedy University in Northern California and adjunct faculty at the California Institute for Integral Studies in San Francisco. A national public speaker on women's issues and family development, Gayle Peterson practices psychotherapy in Oakland, California and Nevada City, California. She also offers an online certification training program in Prenatal Counseling and Birth Hypnosis. Gayle and is a wife, mother of two adult children and a proud grandmother of three lively boys and one sparkling granddaughter.

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