Top iTunes Marriage Podcast

13+ Million Downloads

hosted by Dr. Corey Allan

Postpartum Intimacy and Sex | Brianna Carey #617

Come join the conversations in the SMRNation Community at

On the Regular Version …

Brianna Carey joins me today as we discuss the common issues women face during the postpartum stage of life and marriage.

To learn more about Brianna, check out her site –

On the Extended Version …

We keep the conversation going and discuss some of the ideas Brianna uses to maintain a better connection with your spouse, regardless of the season or stage of life.

Enjoy the show!

Sponsors …

Passionately Married Academy: Pick your level of more access, Free, Academy and the new Masterclass level.


Like this show? Please leave us a review here — even one sentence helps!  If your review is chosen and read on the podcast (anonymously, of course!), you’ll win a very special prize!

Got a question?

Call/Text us at  214-702-9565

or email us at

Corey Allan: Coming up next on the Passionately Married podcast.

Brianna Carey: How do I enjoy pleasure again? How do I heal my body and make that connection, disconnect from the pain and enjoy the pleasure? And I find that this happens a lot for women during this postpartum phase, where they actually start to internalize that they are not able to be intimate with their spouse. They start to feel a lot of guilt about it. Because they don't know what's going on with them, they think there's something wrong with them and they don't know how to communicate it.

Corey Allan: Welcome to the show, where each and every week, Pam and I try to frame conversations, give actions and conversation starters, address topics that are going on in the nation, just to help propel life and married life forward.

Pam Allan: Right.

Corey Allan: Because let's face it, we can all be bogged down. We can all have things going on that get kind of crazy or heavy or busy or distracting. And one of the constants we hope happens in your life is your relationship. It's your marriage. Because we all go through seasons. Some of them are easier, some of them are not so easy. Some of them are downright hard and difficult.

Pam Allan: Right. But most of them are workable, right?

Corey Allan: I heard this the other day. "Everything is figureoutable."

Pam Allan: Okay. I'll take the phraseology.

Corey Allan: Because I think it's true, because how many things happen in life and it's like, "Ah, I don't know. I can't figure it out." And so I heard that, "Well, no, it is figureoutable."

Pam Allan: Right. Right.

Corey Allan: We can figure something out if we give it enough time, find the research.

Pam Allan: Yeah. As we say with our kids, "Yet."

Corey Allan: Right.

Pam Allan: That is a key word. "I don't know how to do this yet."

Corey Allan: That is true. Well, if you've got some feedback for the show or if there's something we've missed if you've been listening, or if you're just checking out right now and you're listening with a critical ear of, "I wonder if they're going to miss anything," and if we do or you want to add something to the conversation, let us know. Call us at (214) 702-9565 or
Well, coming up today on the show, in the regular version, is Brianna Carey, who's a Relationship and Intimacy Coach, and she deals specifically in the world of pregnancy and postpartum intimacy surrounding that.

Pam Allan: Oh, that's amazing, because so many people, that's a serious issue.

Corey Allan: Yeah.

Pam Allan: They don't even think about that when they say, "I want to have kids."

Corey Allan: Yeah. Over the years of our show, we've had emails that have come in that is like, "Yeah. I went to the hospital to deliver our first, and I came home a different person, not only with another person, but I came home a different person. And it has dramatically impacted everything."

Pam Allan: Yeah. And well, I love her question in here. At one point in here, she says that women need to ask themselves in that situation, "How do I enjoy pleasure again?"

Corey Allan: Right.

Pam Allan: And I read into this so many things. In so many of the episodes we have, we talk about women who maybe just don't even know what they want in the first place. And so, it really does take initiative on our own part to figure out, "How do I enjoy pleasure?" And this says again that many of us don't even know before that happens, "How do I enjoy pleasure?" And so, I think this is a good hit on looking at yourself.

Corey Allan: Regardless of where you are.

Pam Allan: Yeah. Taking ownership of where I am. And then, of course, it gets into the male side of things, too. But that's a highlight for me.

Corey Allan: Love it.

Pam Allan: Looking at, "Where am I, and how can I do this again?"

Corey Allan: And on the extended content today, which is deeper, longer, and there are no ads, you can subscribe and join the conversation and get a whole lot more information by going to Brianna and I continue the conversation, where some of the tools and things they've come up with, with a touch game and then a board meeting.

Pam Allan: Oh, interesting.

Corey Allan: Is some of the ideas they've come up with that have really helped their relationship and their clients that they work with.

Pam Allan: Okay.

Corey Allan: So all that's coming up on today's show.
It's a privilege to welcome to the show today, Brianna Carey, a Relationship and Intimacy Coach, that works a lot from the information I've gotten of you, Brianna, is you really try to dive into helping women. But then, that's going to spill out into both sets of the partners, men and women obviously, if you're keeping this under the umbrella of relationships. You really do dive into help them look at some of the different things that most all of us are going to face at different points. And so, I'm fascinated to have you on and welcome to the show.

Brianna Carey: Yeah, thank you for having me. I'm very excited to be here and see where the conversation goes today.

Corey Allan: Absolutely. Well, let's just jump right in, because one of the things that you've seemed to land in a lot of times is one of the things that happens all too often with women when they get married and then they want to have a family, there is this blessing or a curse depending on your experience, probably, of pregnancy and then also the postpartum and what comes after it. And so, that whole process, while it's a natural and it's a beautiful thing and it's required for our species, obviously, it can wreak havoc on the intimate sides of our lives for both men and women. So how did you find and fall into that as kind of a niche? But then also, what do you keep seeing? And that's kind of where we'll head today. I think that'll help the most.

Brianna Carey: Yeah, absolutely. So my background, I've been a sexual health educator for 14 years. And my journey to where I am today began when I was actually four months postpartum, so six and a half years ago. And I was having a lot of vulvar pain when my husband and I tried to initiate intimacy again after having our baby.

Corey Allan: Okay.

Brianna Carey: And I went to my midwife after about 8-10 weeks and was like, "I'm still experiencing a lot of pain," because I did have a second degree tear during birth. They said everything was looking fine, but I was experiencing this pain. So I went to her and I was like, "What's going on? How can I fix this?" And her suggestion was to have a couple glasses of wine and use more lubrication to relax.

Corey Allan: That's so wrong.

Brianna Carey: Right? And I was literally jaw-dropped, but that was the advice. In that moment, I was also very hurt. My husband and I have great communication, but we were disconnected. And so, I began researching how to heal myself and how I could connect to my husband again.

Corey Allan: Okay.

Brianna Carey: And this was beyond couple's therapy. It wasn't that. It was, "How do I enjoy pleasure again? How do I heal my body and make that connection, disconnect from the pain and enjoy the pleasure?" And I find that this happens a lot for women during this postpartum phase, where they actually start to internalize that they're not able to be intimate with their spouse. They start to feel a lot of guilt about it. Because they don't know what's going on with them, they think there's something wrong with them and they don't know how to communicate it.

Corey Allan: And it also sounds like sometimes when they do communicate it to people, they kind of chalk it up as, "Oh, it's okay, get over it" or "Find ways to numb I" or "It'll correct itself" or something to the effect of just ignoring it.

Brianna Carey: Yeah, pretty much. "This is the way life is now. You're a mom, congratulations."

Corey Allan: Kiss your sex life goodbye.

Brianna Carey: Right? And that's what a lot of... And then, for the male partner of that, they start to internalize it as, "She's not attracted to me anymore. Does she love me anymore?" Or there's a feeling of loneliness, right? Because the mom and the baby are so bonded, they have to spend a lot of time together. Where do they fit in to this relationship now?

Corey Allan: Okay. I almost see it as two things, to interrupt you just real quick, Brianna.

Brianna Carey: Yeah.

Corey Allan: Obviously, that's a component, that even on the normal, you're not experiencing any kind of vular pain or any kind of issues, you use the window of recovery and then everything, you're kind of back into it, but you've got a whole different focus of a kid, of a baby.

Brianna Carey: Yeah, absolutely.

Corey Allan: That's just a natural thing. That's going to be one component. And there's another component in there of when you do have the pain like you're describing, and if a wife doesn't have the wherewithal to bring it up to her husband or seek out help, but almost is internalizing like you're describing can happen, that becomes a whole nother kind of message trying to decipher and figure out what it is, because it's not being communicated. She's not even aware of what could be being communicated by not communicating it.

Brianna Carey: Right.

Corey Allan: It can get so complicated so fast.

Brianna Carey: Very much, very much so. And there's so many different books and resources and things for pregnancy and birth and baby, but there's nothing to support the couples on what to expect now that you're expecting, right?

Corey Allan: Right.

Brianna Carey: What's going to happen to your relationship during that time?

Corey Allan: Right.

Brianna Carey: And so, that's what we are trying to help with.

Corey Allan: Okay. And so, let's kind of go through the process of this then. When you're talking about working with a wife that's coming in, and she's in the pregnancy and now all of a sudden, obviously body is changing, hormones are changing, focuses are changing, energy is changing. The whole world can just be turned upside down.

Brianna Carey: Yeah.

Corey Allan: And my experience has been, and tell me if this is confirmation too, for some women, it can actually turn things on for them. The hormones get ramped up in a good way and they're raring to go. It's a huge aphrodisiac for their marriage, in their sex life.

Brianna Carey: For sure. Yeah.

Corey Allan: For other women, it's the reverse. And so, what are some of the things that the ones that all of a sudden now there's an impact to the relationship, even though we know that process ends ultimately nine months-ish. And then, you've got the recovery time-ish, whatever that is, because there's a whole variable of that as well, physically and mentally and hormonally.

Brianna Carey: Yeah.

Corey Allan: What are some of the things to be looking out for at the beginning of this whole process of pregnancy, relationally and individually?

Brianna Carey: Yeah. And so, I do work with individual women, but we do work with couples in this aspect so that the male partner does have an understanding of what's happening in this as well. And so, typically, women during the first trimester because of the influx of hormones, that's when they are feeling the worst. And that's where I start to hear a lot of them say, "My libido has dropped. I'm not wanting to be intimate with my partner." That's natural. That's okay, so getting both partners to understand that. Understanding what's happening through each week or each trimester physically for both partners, because sometimes the male might not be looking at all of the apps like we are, like the women are, and seeing the growth. So talking about what is actually happening physiologically, that helps. Men are typically a lot more logical. They like to have those pinpoints of things.

Corey Allan: Give me something tangible to kind of mark it and understand, "Here's going on and here's how this plays out."

Brianna Carey: Exactly.

Corey Allan: Perfect.

Brianna Carey: And then, how can we support the mom during this phase where she's not having that increase in libido, which typically happens during the second trimester, so massages, baths, different ways we can connect in that way. During the second trimester, if she is having that increase in libido, have fun, enjoy that. Understand as the third trimester, especially late trimester starts to come up, a lot of times very swollen, very uncomfortable, can't hardly move.

Corey Allan: Right.

Brianna Carey: Again, going back to cuddling, massage, bath or shower time together, different things that you can incorporate some physical intimacy when you can't actually have intercourse.

Corey Allan: Right.

Brianna Carey: And so, when you are able to understand and expect what's going to happen, you don't feel blindsided and you get to prepare, so you feel a lot more supported. And then again, the postpartum, I am using air quotes, "six weeks" is when a lot of women are given the all clear. Men have that marked on their calendar. They know that date's coming. They're like, "Okay, what'd they say?" And they're like, "I don't know. I don't want to say it."

Corey Allan: Right.

Brianna Carey: Because to fully heal from childbirth takes up to a year.

Corey Allan: Okay.

Brianna Carey: And then, you add in if she is nursing or pumping. That greatly impacts the estrogen levels as well, which again, decreased libido, decreased vaginal lubrication, arousal, all of that. So having the male partner understand that aspect of the body that she's going through, it's not that she's just not interested in it. It's not that she doesn't find you attractive. It's her body is constantly fluctuating every single day. And so, when they have that understanding, they can figure out how to support each other more forward.

Corey Allan: Okay. And can I add a little addendum, I guess to it?

Brianna Carey: Yeah.

Corey Allan: And as a woman, tell me if I'm off on this, because this is my hunch on your statement of, it's not that she doesn't find you as attractive, unless you are being a pouty little baby on having to adjust to the disruption that's now happened, and you are blaming that rather than manning up and dealing with what's happened in life in a good way and being a good partner and ally in this whole thing.

Brianna Carey: Yeah. Yeah, that is true. When she's not only stressing about what's going on with her body, how to take care of an infant, and then also emotionally supporting her partner or spouse in the situation, that's where resentment can start to build up.

Corey Allan: Absolutely, it would. And that's a libido killer for everybody right there.

Brianna Carey: Absolutely.

Corey Allan: Right. Okay.

Brianna Carey: So yeah.

Corey Allan: So then you're talking about in the postpartum, we're talking about the variable of six weeks, the year, the markers that... Because some women, again, these are averages, these are across the board, but it's as unique as each person-

Brianna Carey: Absolutely.

Corey Allan: ... involved. What are some of the things, because when the hormones get so out of whack, and I'm using that as, that's a medical term, right? You understand, right, that out of whack.

Brianna Carey: Yeah, I understand.

Corey Allan: But we get way out of balance. One goes way high, one can go way low, they're never working for us. They work against us in some regards. What do you kind of help women recognize, and then in turn, couples recognize during that real crunch time, if you will? Because this is that struggle where yes, baby and infant takes priority, but marriage is still a priority, too.

Brianna Carey: Absolutely.

Corey Allan: And so, in some regards, isn't it kind of framing it to where it's not an either/or, it's a both/and?

Brianna Carey: Yeah.

Corey Allan: But they still have to be cared for in different ways.

Brianna Carey: Yeah, absolutely. That's such a good point. I think in society today, it's very easy to see couples putting their kids first ahead of the relationship, and it needs to be the opposite. Your relationship is first, then your kids. And so, obviously, in this situation, an infant needs you a lot more, right?

Corey Allan: Right.

Brianna Carey: Now, you still have to make time for your relationship. And I think with women, understanding what do you need from your partner, in your relationship, for yourself? Because a lot of times women, they're the constant caregiver. They're at home, they're trying to also take care of the home, and if they did go back to work, they're balancing all of these things, so talking about how to delegate duties that might not have been what they were before baby.

Corey Allan: Right.

Brianna Carey: The husband or male partner, they can say, "Okay. I'm going to kind of help in this area to help you not feel as stressed about this." And when they're able to really involve themself in that, it helps to take the pressure off of her, so then she is starting to feel more connected to them.

Corey Allan: Okay. Okay.

Brianna Carey: If that's making sense.

Corey Allan: So you're talking about just clarifying some of the distinctions that happened.

Brianna Carey: Yeah.

Corey Allan: Now all of a sudden, when focuses gets shifted and it becomes a priority of both parents to care for this new one that just came into the world, because you both helped make it happen in some way or form, it's recognizing there needs to be... Renegotiation is the word that comes to my mind of, "Look. Here's some of the things that happen now. So how do we work through this? And then also, make sure marriage and our dynamic doesn't just fall off the list." It may drop down. I think that's a normal thing. It may drop down for a short time.

Brianna Carey: Yes. For a short time, yes.

Corey Allan: But how do you bring it back up?

Brianna Carey: Yes.

Corey Allan: Pam and I almost stumbled into this. Just looking back at it, this was one of the best choices we ever made when our first-born was born, and then second born two years later. And we kind of followed the same model and it worked well, where with our firstborn, so Pam had a C-section, so that meant a little bit longer recovery physically for her because of surgery.

Brianna Carey: Right.

Corey Allan: It was scars and wound care and everything else. And so, she had to get back up on her feet and move around. And like most women, that's kind of encouraged to get working, get moving again, just for your body to function again real well. Well, we started walking every night just because we had Sydney in May. And so, it worked perfectly into the early parts of summer here in Texas, great weather. And we walked, I think, almost every single night until mid to late August. And looking back, that gave us time where we were talking while walking every single night.

Brianna Carey: Yeah.

Corey Allan: And she was just kind of hanging out in the stroller, looking around and we're kind of watching everything. But we kind of got in this routine, and looking back at it, that was an incredibly helpful relational move that we just did by accident more than anything.

Brianna Carey: Yeah.

Corey Allan: And then, it was like, "We've got to repeat that with the second one because that helped us," because we had time where we're just connecting in different ways through talk that was huge for our relationship.

Brianna Carey: Yeah. I think that's so good that you guys were able to do that. And such a great point too, because it doesn't have to be these big, grandiose gestures of things, right? And sometimes, depending on your life, you might not have family, friends, anybody to watch the baby, but you can take time to go and do stuff together.

Corey Allan: Right.

Brianna Carey: Like you said, take a walk, sit outside. Having some sort of connection time is so important, and making that a priority, sticking to that, not checking out watching Netflix or scrolling on your phone or anything like that. Yeah, that's really good.

Corey Allan: Well, there's also that benefit of sleep when the baby's sleeping. And so, you get a chance to nap together when the baby's napping too, or something, because I think if we can... Don't we have the ability, as humans, to reframe things? The same things we do, I can reframe it and do it and get a different benefit out of it.

Brianna Carey: Yeah. Yeah. And as you say that, that's advice that women hear all the time is, "Sleep when the baby sleeps." But in the moment, we feel guilty for doing so because we think that, "Okay, well, they're sleeping, so this is my time to do all of the things."

Corey Allan: Get all the to-do lists done.

Brianna Carey: Right. Because then if you didn't have that conversation beforehand with your partner about the restructuring of responsibilities around the house, they're thinking, "I have to clean the house before they get home. I have to get dinner ready."

Corey Allan: Okay.

Brianna Carey: There's a lot of things that start to come in, and so they're not actually resting and taking that time. And then, that starts to feed into the resentment too of, "I'm doing all of these things and there's no support here." And so, it's a cycle if it's not talked about beforehand.

Corey Allan: And do you find that a lot of that dynamic is actually unspoken more often than not?

Brianna Carey: Yes.

Corey Allan: It's just not even clarified. It's just kind of this expectation that...

Brianna Carey: Assumed. Mm-hmm.

Corey Allan: It puts both of them in a really precarious spot.

Brianna Carey: Yeah. It really does.

Corey Allan: He comes home going, "Seriously? You think that I'm..." And she's like, "But I thought..." We put all this weight on each other and ourselves, not even recognizing we're doing it when it could be thwarted in some regards if I would just say, "Hey, help me understand something. I know that this matters to you, but during this phase, it's probably not going to get done."

Brianna Carey: Yeah.

Corey Allan: "I'm just making sure you're aware. Not that I'm asking you for your permission for it, I'm just telling you."

Brianna Carey: Yes. Yeah. And it's so interesting. In today's society, we are the most disconnected we've ever been. We use to phrase, "It takes a village," because it literally took a village.

Corey Allan: Right.

Brianna Carey: Hundreds of you, right, to raise a kid. It wasn't always the responsibility. It was not always on the mom solely to run the household, to take care of the kids, to also be there for their partner. And so, figuring out, again, relegating duties around the house and asking for help, accepting help from others, and find your community that can support you during this as well. Finding an outlet for the male partner if he needs to go ride bikes or rock climb so he's feeling like he's doing something so he can come back and then she can go do something. Encourage her to get out of the house and take time for herself so she is not feeling like she's drowning.

Corey Allan: Yeah. That's the self-care model of, "What's replenishing me and restorative for me?" Some of that's relational; absolutely, we can help recharge each other in good ways. But some of that also has nothing to do with my partner or my child.

Brianna Carey: Right. We have to take responsibility of that.

Corey Allan: It has to do with myself.

Brianna Carey: Yeah. We have to take responsibility and ownership of that. When we are taking care of ourselves, we get to show up as better partners, and we get to show up as better parents.

Corey Allan: Mm-hmm. Which then means the people we care about get the benefit.

Brianna Carey: Exactly.

Corey Allan: But the most important thing is we get the benefit ourselves.

Brianna Carey: Mm-hmm. Yeah. Yeah. So I find that a lot for women is they feel like they have to just stay in it. They do all of the things, and then they get burnt out and they have resentment and nobody wins.

Corey Allan: Okay. Okay. Well, hopefully, there's an element of understanding that if we can just have the courage to speak up, have the courage to claim what I'm trying to claim, because I think that's again, there's a human resilience factor in here of, "When I speak for what it is I need, even if I don't get it, I still have earned me a little bit better."

Brianna Carey: Yeah.

Corey Allan: And I think that's kind of what you're describing all the way through this, isn't it?

Brianna Carey: Yeah, pretty much.

Corey Allan: Okay. So Brianna, how can people find more of what it is you offer and what you do?

Brianna Carey: Yeah. So I am on Instagram. It's _Brianna_Carey_. You can message me there. I have also has all of my information.

Corey Allan: Perfect. Well, Brianna, thank you so much for the work you do with women in this all too important stage of life, because there needs to be more voices to help normalize and help get a better path forward for everything that women will face. And men too, because relationships, one of the byproducts of having sex is you could bring a kid into the world and that's going to be disruptive, but it doesn't have to be forever this disruptive.

Brianna Carey: Absolutely. Yes. Thank you so much for having me.

Corey Allan: Well, it's interesting, because this is one of those things that as relationships evolve and there are dramatic, demonstrable differences that will change the relationship, i.e. having a child.

Brianna Carey: Yeah.

Corey Allan: Right? Because nothing is the same after that happens.

Pam Allan: No. Yeah. Sorry, I think I'm cutting you off, but I'm just listening to it thinking, "This is where intimacy comes in." This is where the changes, we figure out the nuances of us and our spouse, and we're hitting the hard times when it's not all running smooth potentially. And we've got to figure out how to make this work together.

Corey Allan: Right. And you could be among the people in the nation where it really has felt like it's never run smooth.

Pam Allan: True. True, true, true.

Corey Allan: And so, here's some ways to ask some questions, because the way you talked about it this at the very beginning, Pam, of the idea of, "How do I find pleasure?" That's applicable in a lot of different ways, not just sexually.

Pam Allan: Absolutely.

Corey Allan: "Where do I find things that are pleasurable, restorative, enjoyable, bring a smile, stir something in me, sexually or otherwise?" Because all of those are paths to living life more vibrantly and a alive.

Pam Allan: Right.

Corey Allan: Well, transcripts are available on each of the show's pages. If you find each episode's page, you'll find transcripts at the bottom of those pages. Advertisers, deals, and discounts are also available on each episode's pages at Please consider supporting those who support the show.
Well, whatever stage you're in in your marriage, or whatever stage you're entering into in your marriage, if you know of somebody that could benefit from this because you're walking alongside them, it's a great compliment if you share our show-

Pam Allan: That's right.

Corey Allan: ... with them. So however you've taken a little bit of time out to spend it with us, thank you, and we'll see you next time.