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Newborns, Breastfeeding, and Intimacy

2006 August 22
by Mike

Rabbi Schmuley Boteach, host of the TLC show “Shalom in the Home” has created quite a stir by talking about the way breastfeeding can interfere with a husband’s sexual pleasure and about the dangers of a husband being too present for childbirth.

“I told the mother that in being so devoted to her son, she had committed the cardinal sin of marriage, which is to put someone else before her spouse, even if that someone is your child. Furthermore, I said, her obsession had turned one of her most attractive body parts into a feeding station, an attractive cafeteria rather than a scintillating piece of flesh. In my book “Kosher Adultery,” I make the point that infidelity is primarily a sin of omission rather than commission. It is not the bad thing you do that destroys a marriage, but all the good that you fail to do, preoccupied as you are with a sinful relationship that diverts your attention away from your spouse.” (Be sure to follow the link to page 2, where it gets more bizarre.)

I like this response from Armin Brott, who suggests that marriages can be nourished by more than sex (as important as that is) — by the joining together of husband and wife to nurture a child. Plus, he’s willing to use the s-word: sacrifice.

“In choosing to become parents—which most of us do—we tacitly agree to take on certain obligations, to make sacrifices for our children, to do what we can to make their lives better than ours. Going a step further, if there’s something we can do to protect our children, to keep them from harm, we must do it.”

New parents have to work hard to maintain intimacy when they enter what Brott calls the “24-hour baby channel” — all baby, all the time. And when the husband can be helpful and supportive of the exhausting job — well, everyone comes out ahead.

“The bottom line to both moms and dads feeling comfortable with their roles in the physical process of parenting, including breast-feeding? Well, to be perfectly blunt, the more men participate, the more sex those men will get. As psychologist Aaron Hass puts it, ‘There is no more powerful aphrodisiac to a mother than to see her husband lovingly engaged with their children.’ So it goes like this: When dads support breast-feeding and are actively involved with their children, moms are happier. Happier moms have more energy and are more interested in satisfying their husband’s—and their own—sexual needs.”

– – – –

Anyone else been watching any of the Little League World Series? Our trip to the state tournament made Chris and me more interested than usual. What a sight whenever Aaron Durley walks onto the field. He’s 6′ 8″ and weighs 256 pounds. He’s 2″ taller than Shaq was at that age, and his shoes are three sizes larger.

– – – –

Check out Larry’s blog today where he writes about what he’d do if he were mayor of Dallas.

Here’s my one question: Where do I send a campaign contribution?

43 Responses leave one →
  1. August 22, 2006

    Okay. I can see how having the baby sleeping with you would cut down on the evening fun (

  2. August 22, 2006

    Hmm. Where’d the rest of the post go? Maybe I got censored?

    I just said that it was not my experience that breastfeeding hindered being intimate with my husband. I also mentioned that there was enough of me for both baby and hubby while I was breastfeeding. 🙂

  3. August 22, 2006

    Pardon my laughter, but I can’t help but picture the Rabbi from Seinfeld talking to Elaine, if you remember that episode – is this gentleman serious? On the LLWS – I’m into it and I’m pulling for Arizona (if they’re still in it). Their little shortstop is tough as nails and a clutch player. He commented that he came up to Aaron Durley’s elbow.

  4. August 22, 2006

    If a new father is more interested in having his needs met than meeting the needs of his wife and child at this precious time, his problems are greater than a sexual hiatus.

    The first few months of a child’s life are so precious, and go by so fast! Enjoy every second that you can. There will be more than enough time to have plenty of sex.

  5. August 22, 2006

    Fellow Cope Blog Junkies,
    Shameless use of a blog that gets lots of hits here… Over at my blog, an atheist (who has been reading my blog since we had an attempt at a dialogue between atheists and Christians a few weeks back) has raised some great questions about why we have decided to follow the way of Christ. His questions are sincere (I’ve been e-mailing with him all morning), and seem to imply some level of searching. In love, some of you may want to comment over on my blog on why you chose the way of Christ.

    Thanks,
    Steve Holt
    harvestboston.net

  6. Joe Hatcher permalink
    August 22, 2006

    Although I am definitely, an expert on marriage and different elements needed to make a marriage complete and fruitful. I would have to disagree with the Rabbi. If these issues are used as excesses on the breakdown of intimacy in a marriage, trust me, there are other larger issues.

    My question is exactly how did the women of the Rabbis ancient heritage feed their infant children?

  7. August 22, 2006

    I read the article. Hidden in some of the absurdity, the Rabbi makes a good point that our children need to see more affection in our marriages.

  8. August 22, 2006

    There are so many inappropriate jokes swirling around in my head right now, but I’m going to keep them to myself.

    I do wonder, though, if the rabbi ever considered than when a woman has a newborn and has had stitches holding her most sensitive parts together, sex may not be the first thing on her mind.

    Also, breastfeeding has some nice benefits for husbands.

    Don’t worry, I’m ending this now.

  9. August 22, 2006

    Mike. My wife is 3-months pregnant with our first child, so I’m just plain scared. Some time back Dennis Prager wrote 2 columns and did an entire radio show on this subject – women went after him for even asking the question!

  10. Tom permalink
    August 22, 2006

    I wonder why the good rabbi supposes God gave mothers the ability to breast feed?

  11. Susan permalink
    August 22, 2006

    I thought feeding babies was what breast were for. Silly me.

  12. kendra permalink
    August 22, 2006

    We’ve been watching a lot of the LLWS. Connor has decided that when he’s an adult, he’s going to move to Williamsport so that he can slide down the hill behind the stadium any time he wants. Several thoughts entered my mind….1) Has he lived such a sheltered life that he thinks the only hill in the world is in PA? and 2) What will his wife think of his plans (although if Connor still cares more about LL baseball and sliding down hills on cardboard – whether his wife breastfeeds probably won’t be an issue)?

    And to put things in perspective, Aaron Durley outweighs Connor more than 4 to 1.

  13. Terry permalink
    August 22, 2006

    Glad you said to read the entire thing. That period of time devoted to the child passes and a wise man protects and understands. These thoughts by supposedly learned people sound like the American media preocupation with sex. Wise men that love the child and the mother by caressing and kissing do get their needs met too, as those needs are there for the wife too. Our way of life seems foreign to God’s way for us. We use to say that, but we’ve been pretty silent lately and divorce is rampant. So all the sex in the world isn’t helping our marriages any.

  14. Kelley Smith permalink
    August 22, 2006

    Charles and all men reading this blog…….

    Hint from Christian women everywhere….

    The sexiest thing a man can do is…….

    And the thing that will make her want to be intimate with you more often is…

    Be a man who seeks after God.

  15. August 22, 2006

    That kid is so huge, Mike. I just love the LL World Series so I’m glad you gave it a little shout-out here. My favorite team was the one from Harlem a couple of years ago. Remember those kids?

    Lots of low scoring affairs in the LLWS this year and lots of baserunning gaffes. Those just kill me!

  16. August 22, 2006

    I’ve been facinated by Rabbi Schmuley since Shalom in the Home began a few months ago. He gives us Christians some insight into our Jewish heritage which has been tragicly lost. I wrote something about him on my blof a few months ago.

    http://manersthoughts.blogspot.com/2006/04/shalom-in-scriptures.html

    I think that teaching is a bit bizarre though. Schmuley has a tendency to overstate his point just to shake people into their senses. It is a TV show after all. I think that what he’s getting at is that the marriage comes before children. Far too many couples get so wrapped up in their children that they forget about each other. I’ve seen many marriages fall apart after the children leave home.

  17. Leah permalink
    August 22, 2006

    Coming from a mom who breast fed my baby for the first few months of his life…as much as I enjoyed being able to do that, I was thrilled about having “the girls” back to normal. And as much as I love my son and will do my best to guide him and protect him, he’s definitely not number one, but neither is my husband…my God is.

  18. kelly permalink
    August 22, 2006

    i think breasfeeding is absolutely disgusting. if i had the choice between sex goddess and baby factory, i’d choose the later…but of course, i’m 25 with no children and no immediate plans for children, so you can take my opinion with a grain of salt. 🙂

  19. don permalink
    August 22, 2006

    When you read the article, there are some good thoughts in it, like Beaner said. However, the last paragraph indicates that loss of eroticism is the cause of marital breakdown. I think he’s got the cart before the horse to say that. And his entire premise seems to be based on physical stimulus being the sum total of a sexual relationship. Anybody who believes that and is giving advice on such matters should probably be writing for Cosmo.

  20. August 22, 2006

    There’s a team from Beaverton, OR that is 2-1 so far.

    If we’re talking about media obsession, why not talk about our obsession with sports. I mean…come on…Little League? Why is there no media attention to kids that do well in music? It’s any wonder why we have so many doping problems and athletes with legal troubles. We glorify them at all levels, from little league, through high school and college, into the pros, and when they get in trouble we wink at it as long as they play well.

    At the same time we have horrible music hitting the cd shelves and we wonder why it is, when from the start, hardly any money is put into music in schools because it’s going into sports. No musical kids = no musical adults.

    We also wonder why a lot of teens don’t get involved in the youth group…when they have soccer, basketball, football, etc. practice. Hmm…

  21. August 22, 2006

    Ironically I am nursing my four-week-old as I catch up on blogs this morning!

    What the good Rabbi meant to say…For a short while baby needs to be a top priority. Mama (or daddy in some cases) is charged with making sure this little bundle of helplessness is fed, clean (on good days), the right temperature, engaged, safe, and as healthy as possible. Those priorities, along with the physical recovery of the trauma of birth, which is a fresh memory for both my husband and I, may make sex a lesser priority – for a little while (a “little while” being key).

    With my little one starting out at 11 lbs, 4 1/2 oz, she’ll catch up with that Durley kid in no time!

  22. August 22, 2006

    Can you say breast on this blog?? 🙂
    As the Mom of a 6 week old baby I get what the good Rabbi is saying. But, babies are only babies for a short time and I think Susan was right… that is what God designed “the girls” to do! And for Kelly, my 5 year old son shares your opinion of nursing (I like that word better). BUT it is one of those parenting things you do for a time because it is what is best for your child… your completely dependent infant child. AND might I add that after most guys see what formula cost, they will beg their wives to breast feed as long as possible!

  23. August 22, 2006

    Kristi’s husband here (above) – breastfeeding my child is the best thing she can do right now. Yes, they’re scintillating.

    Real men can wait while their wives heal. Real men can put their own needs second, or put their children’s needs first for a time, such as when they’re newborn. I’m not saying it’s easy, but sometimes we’re called to wait.

  24. August 22, 2006

    I’m just wondering how we made the seque from THAT to Little League?

    Oh… maybe La Leche Leage to Little League… ok…

    I missed out on the whole maternal instinct thing… I can still go to Heaven, right?

  25. August 22, 2006

    Kristi,

    11 lbs. 4 1\2 ounces??!! Feed that baby a t-bone. 🙂

    Congratulations!!

  26. Julia permalink
    August 22, 2006

    Like several of you who have commented, I am also a young mother with a 3 year old and a 7 week old. What bothers me about the rabbis comments is that he seems to incicate that what holds a marriage together is attraction and that being “in love” all the time is the best thing you can do for your kids. I am reading Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas & I love what he says about how God may be calling us in marriage to be holy more than to be happy. American marriages are falling apart all over the place and I can’t help but think that part of the reason is due to our conviction that marriage should feel at 15 years like it does in the first week – euphoria! Instead of worrying that breastfeeding is damaging the marriages in our country maybe the good rabbi would do well to encourage his “patients” to work on the more important goals of selflessness and committment, and above all a relationship with the Lord Jesus without whom every marriage is destined to fail. I guess being a Jewish rabbi that last one isn’t exactly his expertise…

  27. August 22, 2006

    Let’s not forget about the health benefits that come from a child being breastfeed. It is not breastfeeding that gets in the way of sex, it is the exhaustion from being sleep deprived.

    Trying to be helpful to my wife, I would provide drive-thru service. I would bring the kids to her. One night both of us were extra tired and I told her Grace needed to be fed. She replied, “I am feeding her”. I double checked my arms to make sure it was our sweet daughter I was holding and then told her she was nursing the pillow.

    The rabbi’s thoughts are not logical and are self centered.

  28. Kerry permalink
    August 22, 2006

    What I can’t seem to get over, as I read this post, and hundreds like it, both on church of Christ “ish” websites and not, is that everyone must be OBSESSED with the flesh.

    You can’t throw a rock without hitting a church that teaches nothing but marriage and family stuff.

    The essence of the church’s message these days is: make sure your love and communicate with your wife and have great sex.

    Everybody has some nugget of “truth” to pass along about how you can have great sex despite children being in the way, despite a new baby being around, despite this, despite that.

    Whatever happened to loving your wife (and everybody else) as yourself, and let the chips fall where God allows them to? If God allows me some pleasure out of any relationship, great! If he doesn’t, rejoice anyway… It seems like all of this churchish psychobabble centers around what makes us feel good, but that’s just my opinion.

  29. August 22, 2006

    Love these insights.

    Kristi – 11 pounds? really? You can say whatever you want to here.

    Julia – Sacred Marriage is a dangerous book. In the best sense of the word. Would be great for everyone to read it. How about this (p. 226): “Sex is about physical touch, to be sure, but it is about far more than physical touch. It is about what is going on inside us. Developing a fulfilling sex life means I concern myself more with bringing generosity and service to bed than with bringing washboard abdomens. It means I see my wife as a holy temple of God, not just as a tantalizing human body. It even means that sex becomes a form of physical prayer — a picture of a heavenly intimacy that rivals the shekinah glory of old.”

    And Steve . . . wonderful story.

    Terri . . . absolutely! Here’s to godly women who can keep us informed about the world of NASCAR (which you love, but I don’t get).

  30. August 22, 2006

    Great discussion. I understand the early months of childrearing and the patience and sacrifice required on behalf of all. I am a father of 4 breastfed children and wouldn’t have it any other way. Our wives deserve everything we can give them for what they have been through. But it seems this discussion has left that arena and entered more a general discussion of men and their sex drive.

    Let me ask this. If Willard Harley (His Needs, Her Needs) is right, the male species has sex as its first and foremost “need”. Telling men just to get over it, don’t think about it, don’t be so selfish drives many men crazy, if in fact the sex act is one of the things that drives us.

    Now, the question is, is Harley right or wrong? Is our drive for sex from God or not? If it is hardwired into us, telling men to somehow pursue righteousness instead of sex is like telling a pig not to wallow (hmmm…..probably not the best analogy). Is a man’s drive for sex part of our sinful nature that must be conquered, or part of our created makeup that must be handled in a godly way?

    (Oh, I hope the sinful nature answer is not the right one!!!)

  31. Jody permalink
    August 22, 2006

    “Furthermore, I said, her obsession had turned one of her most attractive body parts into a feeding station, an attractive cafeteria rather than a scintillating piece of flesh.”

    Upon viewing some photos of the man quoted here, I don’t believe “scintillating piece of flesh” applies…

    All fun aside, since we’re all human here, I do appreciate the awareness/rekindling theme of romance and sexuality in marriage. However, since nobody’s getting younger, we can’t ignore that commitment that will get us to those anniversaries where the “scintillating piece of flesh” is “some saggy wad of skin.”

    Oh, to have the perspective of those faithful couples I’ve met who’ve celebrated their 40th, 50th, 60th anniversaries, scintillating sags and all! Their wise counsel carries so much more weight, and so often has left me laughing at the “crucial” advice the younger folks give to one another. How many times one of them has taken me by the hand and said, “Now, what’s really important in a marriage is…”

    Thank God for those examples and for their encouragement!

  32. August 22, 2006

    I love the book “Sacred Marriage.”

    I also love washboard abs.

  33. kelly permalink
    August 22, 2006

    i meant to say the former…not the latter…ha ha!

  34. August 22, 2006

    Three thoughts:

    1. In light of this post I must say, “poor Mrs. Durely”

    2. Vote for Larry!

    3. How many Rabbis does it take to turn two breasts from an attractive cafeteria into an scintillating piece of flesh? One. Just not one named – Schmuley Boteach. Dude, I ain’t taking no sex advice or breast feeding advice from no yamika rocking brother named Schmuley! Period!

  35. August 22, 2006

    Brad – yes and yes.

    Yes, the sex drive men (and women) have is a gift of God.

    But yes, Harley is mostly wrong, imho. Much of the perspective of his book is wrong. That’s another discussion.

  36. August 22, 2006

    Thanks for the props, Mike! Actually, I was just musing about it. There is so much to do here, but all of the visits today and the comments have me wondering!

  37. Shaun Casey permalink
    August 22, 2006

    Larry,
    You have to go for it! Come to DC and we’ll get Kerry and Edwards to pass the hat for your revolution!

  38. August 22, 2006

    My wonderful wife breast fed all 4 ouf our kids, 2 girls and twin boys. And for the record, “They’re real and they’re spectacular!”

  39. August 22, 2006

    Maybe the good rabbi would be a fan of men who breastfeed their babies? Don’t believe me? I had to see it for myself too: http://www.unassistedchildbirth.com/miscarticles/milkmen.html

    Sorry if I’ve scarred anyone for life.

    And I nursed all 3 of mine for a year each and completely disagree with the rabbi.

  40. Heather Alkire permalink
    August 22, 2006

    This has nothing to do with any of the aforementioned topics, but I just wanted to say how blessed I was by your speaking at Candlelight Devotional tonight. It is my fourth Candlelight Devo to attend, and each time, I am richly blessed. You gave the new students a powerful charge for the school year, and my commitment to living out the way of Christ was renewed for this school year, too.

    Just wanted you to know how much you’re appreciated! I love you!

  41. mac sandlin permalink
    August 22, 2006

    I think that Kerry had some great things to say. Will Willimon’s books Resident Aliens and Pastor have some great sections on the whole idea of church as therapy.

    Great lines from these comments:
    “Scintillating sags”
    “La Leche League”
    “when a woman has a newborn and has had stitches holding her most sensitive parts together, sex may not be the first thing on her mind.”

    I love the fact that commenters on this blog are able to make profound statements without taking themselves too seriously.

  42. August 24, 2006

    What did I say…team from Oregon. Another win.

  43. August 24, 2006

    Yes, Tracy. You have scarred me for life!

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