Fotolia

Husband Watching Porn After Baby? Why That *Can* Be A Good Thing

By
Share

Kaycee’s tone is full of frustration as she confesses with not a small amount of curiosity, “OK, let’s get real about sex. Am I the only wife who has NO interest in it whatsoever?! Like nothing. I don’t watch porn, I don’t get excited, she’s dead down there and I just don’t get aroused by anything!” Kaycee isn’t the only one that is frustrated with her postpartum sex life. Her husband is as well. Kaycee confesses, “We had sex this morning for the first time this year.” There can be hurt feelings all around when it comes to postpartum sex, especially when your husband is back watching porn right after you have a baby, but some couples are finding that progressive porn can actually help their relationship.

Kaycee tells Romper that her husband’s work schedule is overwhelming and his long absences are contributing to a feeling that the two of them live in different worlds. She is exhausted and confides that after caring for two toddlers all day, sex with her husband feels like a chore. “I don’t want to get sweaty, or make noise (we live in an apt with thin walls) or even put forth the effort to look enthusiastic.”

Thomas, a millennial father of three, had a similar experience. “The postpartum period very nearly killed me," he tells Romper. "There were medical issues with both the kids and the pregnancy and we had three babies under 3 years old. We were sleep deprived and depressed and all messed up. Our sex life dropped to life-support levels and it was… awful.”

When we become parents, our lives change in big ways. As women on our journey to motherhood through pregnancy, birth, and into the leaky and lactating state of postpartum, our bodies change in dramatic ways. Our time, which was once free, in those early weeks, months, and years, is dedicated in a heartfelt surrender to our little ones, and it can be a struggle to fit in singular moments of nourishing “me” time. Along with all of these changes to our basic needs and our pre-parenting life, it is not unusual to experience changes to our sex lives after becoming parents. The many moving pieces of a couple's sex life include changing appetites, a change in frequency and desire, and, often, a changing role for pornography.

I shower in the dark, I just don’t feel confident so sex is not fun.

One dad, Michael, tells me, "My relationship with my partner changed postpartum, in all the unfortunate stereotypical ways.” Michael shares with me that the frequency of sex, as well as the variety and when it happened, dropped off after the birth of their child.

Kaycee shares with me that part of the reason that she doesn’t feel like having sex is her lack in body confidence now that she is a parent and that she just doesn’t measure up to the unrealistic body images that her husband finds in pornography. “I’ve lost my old body. I’m overweight, I’m out of shape, I’m loose in my tummy and if I sneeze everything jiggles. I don’t look at myself naked, I shower in the dark, I just don’t feel confident so sex is not fun.”

Giphy

Becoming a parent doesn’t mean that you will lose sexual interest in your partner but you may decide to prioritize a shower and scarfing down a bowl of pasta with ravenous enthusiasm while your baby is napping in lieu of a quickie in the bedroom with your partner. You also might want to take some time to reconnect with your body on your own before sharing pleasure with your partner.

Maryam agrees with the importance of self-care, telling me “It took me a long time to enjoy sex again after having a kid. To be honest I’m at my heaviest with a floppy tummy but our sex life is awesome. What changed? I started making time for myself. And connecting with who I was becoming.”

Forest, a millennial dad, tells me,We didn’t (and still don’t!) have time for sex. We went from having a pretty healthy sex life to our relationship focusing on how we work as partners and having a toddler who sleeps, so we might actually have time for sex again. It’s a work in progress.”

Forest is not alone, it is not uncommon to experience for a parent to experience a dip in sexual connection with partner after becoming a father. And this dip in sex with our partners anecdotally correlates with an increase in the quantity of porn viewing for some new fathers.

“I think that the frequency in porn-watching increased in conjunction with the decreasing rate of sex in the relationship, which did correspond to my becoming a father,” says Michael.

I told my husband to watch some porn and masturbate in the shower so he can just spray it down when he was done. It’s exhausting being a parent!

Thomas explains that, due to the challenges of parenthood, sleep deprivation and managing life with three under 3, masturbating to porn was the only sexual outlet he had.

And many mothers realize and support this outlet.

Amber, a millennial mom in California, tells me, “I told my husband to watch some porn and masturbate in the shower so he can just spray it down when he was done. It’s exhausting being a parent! My kid is 4-and-a-half and I still have no interest whatsoever.”

So what happens when today's dads — young millennial men, who were reared on male-centric porn — bring those influences into the bedroom? What if a woman’s desires during the postpartum period just don’t fit into those porno fantasies? Women are given the "green light" for intercourse at their 6-week postpartum checkup, but emotionally and sexually, they are often not ready at that point. Especially not for rough or deeply physical intimacy.

Cindy Gallop, founder of Make Love Not Porn, was motivated to create a real-world alternative to porn after experiencing firsthand how younger millennial men seemed to be altering their sexual habits based on the current porn trends. Gallop told the Independent: “I thought ‘Gosh, if I’m experiencing this, other people must be as well’. I didn’t know and I’m a naturally very action-orientated person so I went ‘I want to do something about this’.”

MakeLoveNotPorn is a startup from sex educator Cindy Gallop that features videos of real couples. The videos are user-generated, couples submit videos of themselves documenting their real life sexual fantasies, desires, and the sex that they want to be having with people that they want to be having sex with.

Giphy

As a sexuality coach and the author of The Ultimate Guide to Sex Through Pregnancy and Motherhood, many of the clients who come to me are new parents struggling to find who they are as sexual beings during those first years of parenthood.

Communication is always a key component of a healthy sexual relationship and never more so than during the transition into parenthood. Whether your partner is pushing for pornographic positions that rival that of Olympic gymnasts or erotic fantasies that just don’t rev your engine, it’s important to communicate that. It’s also extremely common for partners to project what used to work for them sexually in the past onto their present relationship.

One thing we can do is honestly and openly actively listen to our partner’s fantasies and then openly communicate what type of touch would feel good, nourishing, connected for us as mother’s in the postpartum period. This is a beautiful time to explore new fantasies, mutual fantasies, and touch that is is mutually nourishing and that fuels a new level of intimacy in your relationship.

Mainstream pornography might model unrealistic sex positions and fantasies but blockbuster action films also model unrealistic body image and stunts from it’s performers. Although these plot lines and fantasies may make an imprint on our subconscious, many dads feel that they are able to make that clear distinction between fantasy in porn and the reality of sex with out it impacting their sex lives.

Aaron, a dad of two living in Sacramento, tells Romper, “I think it gives some unrealistic expectations for what women find pleasurable. When I've found what appears to be porn created for a more lesbian audience, it seems to involve very different positions and activities.”

Lust Cinema is one such outlet for sex-positive and feminist erotic films, run by the award-winning feminist pornographer, Erika Lust. The catalog of films is markedly more diverse than "mainstream" porn. PinkLabel.TV streams queer independent erotic films by indie and emerging adult filmmakers with an ethical, authentic and feminist perspective run by feminist porn director and filmmaker, Shine Louise Houston. Outlets like PinkLabel offer active communication around sex, safer sex, consent practices, and an abundance of pleasure onscreen.

Giphy

Still, men are capable of dissociating porn from reality. Connor another millennial dad, tells Romper, “I am an English major, I have a strong "suspension of disbelief," just like when watching science fiction... some things in porn only work in porn, not in real life. Porn sex can get super elaborate, but my partner and I enjoy a more informal sex life.”

Dr Marty Klein the author of the book His Porn, Her Pain: Confronting America’s PornPanic With Honest Talk about Sex states in an article for Psychology Today, “Men watch porn because it's entertaining to watch naked women while they masturbate. It generally has nothing to do with how they feel about women.”

I have come across pregnant porn, which I wasn’t into before, but now I’m intrigued.

For many men, porn-viewing is a solo activity correlating with a visual stimulus for self pleasure and masturbation. Forest tells me that he and his wife have never watched porn together. He goes on to say, “If we actually have time, and manage to get sexy, we just go for it!”

Michael tells me that while he and his partner did watch some porn together prior to being parents, that did change in rough conjunction with birth. “These days it’s just me as far as I’m aware," he mumbles in disappointment.

It’s not just the quantity of porn that changes during this postpartum time for new dads but also the type of porn that dads are consuming. One dad divulges to me that the type of porn he consumes now that he is a dad has changed. "I have come across pregnant porn, which I wasn’t into before, but now I’m intrigued."

Jeremy, another millennial dad, also says that amateur porn and pregnancy porn became much more exciting to him after becoming a father. Prior to fatherhood Jeremy gravitated to mainstream porn that acted as a fantastical escape from reality with core themes in his porn collection centering around gang bangs, condomless sex, and cream pies.

However, pornography doesn’t have to be a solo activity and it is possible to curate a collection of porn that fulfills the needs for both men and women. That’s right women can enjoy porn too! In fact, last year on the website Pornhub, searches of “porn for women” increased by 359 percent, per The Guardian.

One dad tells me that he has always had a somewhat critical approach to choosing his porn. He explains to me that his mother was a feminist and that he had an open line of communication with his mother regarding sex and porn.

Which is where things come full circle: porn is perhaps responsible for some ideas about sex that don't align with female needs or wants, but it can also be a tool for couples in the postpartum transition.

So if you're open to it, pop some popcorn, get cozy in your bed, and watch some erotic films after your little one is in bed. Maybe it will lead to some inspired intimacy between you and your partner — whether mutual masturbation, a super-hot make-out session, or off-the-charts mind-blowing sex. Let go of any expectations and take a leap together, exploring something new.

Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.