Dads

Dad says watching childbirth put him off sex for a year; women play world's tiniest violin for him

Nov. 8, 2012 at 10:33 AM ET

I'm here for you, honey... just not "down there." One dad argues men should shield their eyes from the horrors of childbirth, lest their libidos suffe...
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I'm here for you, honey... just not "down there." One dad argues men should shield their eyes from the horrors of childbirth, lest their libidos suffer.

While childbirth is miraculous, it can also be gory, and some guys have a hard time bearing witness as their spouses bear down. One dad even claims that seeing his wife give birth was such a downer that he didn’t want to get it up for a full year afterwards.

Writing for the British tabloid Daily Mail, Martin Daubney claims that the trauma of witnessing his wife endure a complicated three-day labor followed by an emergency C-section was more than his fragile libido could take. And he says he’s not alone.

“At least three of my friends have admitted to leaving their wives as a result of their dwindling sex lives,” Daubney writes. “I truly believe couples would have more chance of normal intimacy after a birth if men saw less of the delivery… What no one talks about is how witnessing childbirth — the most intimate experience in life — leaves a lasting impression on a man and can drive a wedge between himself and his wife.”

Daubney acknowledged that no one forced him into the delivery room (or twisted his arm to videotape the C-section), but he later admitted that watching the surgery was difficult. “The sight of a surgeon elbow-deep inside your wife’s abdomen isn’t something you forget in a hurry.” He worried that his wife and unborn son would both die during the complicated delivery. We can only assume the ordeal was challenging for her as well – Daubney doesn't devote many words in his essay talking about her physical and emotional recovery.

Unsurprisingly, not everyone is sympathetic to his plight. Over at Jezebel, Tracie Egan Morrissey writes, “He also shares some stories of friends of his who were equally traumatized by how grossed out they became when their wives became mothers, like 'Stephen,' a 41-year-old stockbroker who said that watching his wife breastfeed their baby made him never want to have sex with her again. He explained it by saying, 'I felt my wife's body was no longer mine.' Guess what, Stephen. IT NEVER WAS YOURS.”

“Today’s dads see it as an intrinsic part of their role to accompany their partner through every step of childbirth. To suggest otherwise is seen as a dereliction of duty, an act of misogyny,” Daubney writes.

Many of us might feel that men need to get over their squeamishness and recognize that the days of expectant dads pacing the halls with a cigar at the ready are long gone. However, the fear of what witnessing childbirth will do to a guy is not unique to Daubney. We suspect that many, if not most, guys (and gals) worry about this a bit in the days leading up to the birth of a child.

Indeed, witnessing the birth of a child or seeing their spouse's body taken over by motherhood and breast-feeding can be a game-changer for men. "When the body parts that were once considered for sexual pleasure suddenly become feeding machines or birthing holes, some guys feel traumatized by that," says Shoshana Bennett, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and author of "Postpartum Depression for Dummies."

"It's very common and often really good guys are feeling terrible about their feelings -- but they're there and that doesn't make them a bad guy," Bennett told TODAY Moms. In fact, guys may wind up feeling guilty for their emotions, she says. "There's no libido-killer worse than guilt and shame."

So, what happens if the man in your life finds himself traumatized and turned off sex like Daubney and some of his friends? "It's important for moms not to take it personally, because it isn't," Bennett said. She recommends that couples keep at it. "One should not avoid sex, even if those visual images are still there and their minds are still blown. There are very therapeutic exercises, like sensual touching, that couples can do together to help get all of that wonderful juiciness back."

So, how juicy is your relationship these days? Ladies, did you and your man set any ground rules before the big day? Did you agree that he’d just stay by your head the whole time or did you expect him to really get in there? How’d he handle it when push came to shove (or, should we say another push)?

Dana Macario is a Seattle-area mom whose husband said he’d stay right by her head during delivery, but when the nurse told him to grab a leg and help out, he did – no complaints.

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