The Parenting Life

WebMD Live Events Transcript

Your new identity as a parent: childcare; reconnecting with your partner; going it alone. Whatever your situation, parenting is a whole new life. 'The Mother of All Baby Books' author, Ann Douglas, joined us on June 29, 2004, to help answer your parenting questions.

The opinions expressed herein are the guests' alone and have not been reviewed by a WebMD physician. If you have questions about your health, you should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.

Welcome back to WebMD Live, Ann. When you were a new parent, what was your toughest challenge?

Sleep deprivation. I honestly thought I would never sleep again. But about six months later I think I got a decent night's sleep -- not every night, but enough to start feeling semi-human again.

So what did you do about it?

I ended up really cutting back on my to-do list. I mean, I'm not exactly Suzy Homemaker at the best of times, but this was a time in my life when I really learned to cut back on my expectations of myself. Menu plans were kept extremely simple. We're talking soup, sandwiches, and salads on those days when I could figure out how to chop vegetables with a baby in a baby sling (with the first baby we're talking about the days before salads were available in plastic bags -- the pioneer days!)

As for luxuries like dusting, forget about it. Vacuuming got done, however, because I quickly discovered that my daughter was lulled to sleep by the sound of the vacuum cleaner. My house has never been so well vacuumed since!

What I think was really tough, however, was finding the emotional energy to connect with my husband. In many ways we felt like two ships that were passing in the night, or perhaps two ships that were adrift on the rocky postpartum seas. It made for a very rough ride, let me tell you.

When will I feel sexy again? Or is this not an option now that I am a mother? I'm so tired and I feel like my breasts are off limits to my husband; they are for feeding my little girl. And every time he approaches me that way I can't focus. I feel like I have one ear listening for the baby. I'm not being fair to him. Help!

What you are feeling is extremely normal. I think 99% of new mothers on the planet have felt this way. I think the other 1% of mothers have live-in hired help. Because when you're battling exhaustion, leaky breasts, and postpartum aches and pains, it's hard to feel like a sex goddess. Trust me, I have been there.

I've also read studies that say that on average it takes seven to eight weeks to get your sex life back on track after the birth of a baby. And remember, we're talking averages. That means that some couples will take much longer to start feeling sexy again. Of course, there will be a few sexual overachievers who can hardly keep their hands off one another within a few days after the birth; I just haven't met very many of them. So please, don't feel like there's anything wrong with you.

Generally, once you start getting sleep and feeling relaxed and confident about your new role as a mother, your sex life will start to resume its normal frequency, or something that resembles its prebaby frequency. Many people find that their sex life after baby is always a bit different than their prebaby sex life, but that's just the way life is at times.

"When you're battling exhaustion, leaky breasts, and postpartum aches and pains, it's hard to feel like a sex goddess. Trust me, I have been there."

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