Many individuals recall the day that they brought their baby into this world as one of the most joyous days of their life. For others, it may be one of the most horrifying. If your birth did not go as expected, and you feared for your life – or for the life of your child – you may have experienced birth trauma. Birth trauma can be related to many experiences: an unexpected c-section, emergency surgery, or life-sustaining measures for mom or baby. Sex after a baby can be challenging for new parents for a multitude of reasons. In addition to having less time and energy than you had before baby, many parents report decreased or no sex drive after baby. Adjusting to the new routines of life as a parent can often make sex feel like the last priority in your busy day.
However, for individuals who have experienced birth trauma, the journey back to a fulfilling sex life after birth can be much more complicated. Survivors of birth trauma experience additional difficulties beyond decreased or no sex drive after baby, including both physical and emotional challenges. For some, the act of their partner touching their vulva may trigger intrusive thoughts, causing them to feel uneasy and reminding them of their birthing experience. Although this journey looks different for everyone with regard to their culture, religion, and values; here are some ideas from a birth trauma therapist to help you reconnect to your sexuality and improve your sex life.
1. Re-explore Your Body
Having a baby changes your body. Perhaps you experienced vaginal tearing, or have a slow-to-heal c-section scar. These body changes can make the act of sex triggering, as many erogenous zones may be connected to your birth trauma. When working towards improving your sex life after birth trauma, it is so important to get to know your body again. To begin, I would suggest exploring your body with your hands, noting the sensations and thoughts that arise as you do so. Notice what parts are most challenging to touch, and engage in different types of touch. If you are struggling with pain during masturbation or sex, a pelvic floor therapist can help! As a birth trauma therapist, I collaborate with pelvic floor therapists and other professionals to coordinate care through different stages in your physical and emotional healing.
2. Re-build Confidence through Mindful Masturbation
Mindful masturbation is the act of masturbating while taking in all of the senses. What do you hear? See? Smell? Touch? Taste? While engaging in the act of mindful masturbation, I encourage you to add some affirmations into the process. While touching your body, talk to yourself, whether in your head or aloud. Tell yourself that you are sexy, and practice kindness towards yourself as you continue to practice and build your confidence. After some practice with mindful masturbation, share your experiences with your partner. Teach them what you have learned about your erogenous zones after trauma. While working towards building comfort with penetration again, you can even practice mindful mutual masturbation together!
3. Make Changes to the Physical Space
For many individuals, their bedroom is the space where they are intimate most frequently. For others, like some co-sleeping families, it may be another space, like the guest bedroom that you and your partner have dubbed the sex room. No matter where this space is, I encourage you to get intentional about your intimate space, and make some changes! After birth trauma, you may find yourself being triggered by certain sights, smells, or positions. When thinking about your intimate space, think about what would be most comfortable for your body. Perhaps you might want to take out that pregnancy pillow from the closet. Bringing it into the bedroom to try out some new comfortable positions. For others, it might be getting some new essential oils, soft lighting, or maybe even adding a romantic vinyl record player to the bedroom for some mood music. Might I suggest Sade.
4. Bring New Tools into the Bedroom
For parents seeking to improve their sex life or report no sex drive after baby, it can be extremely helpful to bring new tools (sex toys) into the bedroom. Although it can feel intimidating at first, go slowly, and think about what might be best for you and your partner. After birth trauma, you may notice your vaginal lubrication decreasing causing painful sex. Lubrication and sex toys such as vibrators can make the experience of sex after birth trauma a much more pleasure-filled one for the birthing person.
5. Make time for play
It can be hard enough to think about finding the time to be intimate with your partner after a baby. After birth trauma, the thought of adding on the potentially triggering act of sex to your task list for the day might feel overwhelming. This is especially true if you are experiencing decreased or no sex drive after baby.
To combat the dread that you might experience when thinking about prioritizing your sex life, I encourage you to get playful with your partner. Send flirtatious messages throughout the day. Find fun ways to connect intimately. Sex games can be a fun way to get back into the playful spirit with your partner. Many sex games including board games can be found online, but even a simple game of naughty truth or dare will do. Exploring your sexual fantasies and kinks can be a great way to re-connect playfully, and even come up with fun ideas for the future.
Finding your way to a fulfilling sex life after birth trauma is possible. If you continue to struggle in your relationship with your sexuality after trying these tips, a birth trauma therapist can help. Evidence-based treatments such as EMDR can help to reduce symptoms such as flashbacks to your birthing experience, and help you reach your future sex life goals.
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Ready To Start Birth Trauma Therapy in Scotch Plains, NJ & Branchburg, NJ?
We understand how hard it can be when the birth of your child did not go as planned. That is why we offer birth trauma therapy to help you start to recover and regain your sense of comfort. Our trauma therapists in Scotch Plains, NJ can help you not only regain your sexuality but also reconnect with your partner. In order to get started at Brave Minds Psychological Services follow these steps.
- Contact us to talk with a birth trauma therapist.
- Start birth trauma therapy at Brave Minds Psychological Services.
- Begin the process of healing.
Other Mental Health Services We Offer in New Jersey
At our Scotch Plains, NJ-based therapy practice we offer many types of mental health services to support you. For individuals, we offer EMDR trauma therapy, food allergy therapy, and postpartum counseling. While for children and adolescents we provide teen anxiety treatment, social phobia therapy for teens, child sexual abuse therapy, and child anxiety treatment. Additionally, we offer group therapy, marriage counseling, couples therapy, and more. Our caring therapists provide services both in person and through online therapy in New Jersey.