Hormones. Adjusting to your new baby's all-over-the-place schedule. A lack of sleep. Internal body image issues. The low-key fear of getting pregnant again before you're ready (real talk). When you've just had a baby and you're trying to get back into the swing of what helped you to conceive in the first place, it can present all sorts of obstacles and issues that aren't talked about (in a public setting), nearly as much as it should be. It's not that you don't ever want to have sex again; it's more like you need some help getting from "wanting to want" to do it to actually doing it—again.
As a doula, I've helped many women (and patient partners) navigate their way through all of this. Whether you're just had a baby, you're weeks out from giving birth, or you're thinking about getting pregnant and you're wondering how it will affect your sex life on the back end, these 10 tips are practical ways for you to ease back into coitus after conceiving.
1. Get Cleared by Your Doctor
While it's a pretty standard assumption that a woman should wait for six weeks to have sex again after giving birth to a child, you might be surprised to know that many health professionals actually say that many ladies are good to go after three. It all depends on how well you're healing and if you're physically (and emotionally) up to it. But whether you experienced a vaginal birth or a cesarean (in all honesty, you probably will need six weeks in this case), it's important that you get a personal green light from your own physician before you get the party started again. Otherwise, you run the risk of contracting a uterine infection or even having some level of postpartum hemorrhaging.
2. Take a Probiotic
While this particular tip might seem a little odd, I'll break down why adding a probiotic to your diet regimen is so important. One thing that has been the reality for you, pretty much since you saw a positive sign on your pregnancy test, is your hormones have been all over the place. Well, aside from flushing out your system by eating fresh fruits, veggies and lots of water (so that detoxing can balance you back out), something else that can bring some balance to your hormonal system is a probiotic.
Since around 70 percent of our immune system is actually located in our gut, a probiotic can help to bring more good bacteria to that area of your body which will ultimately help to balance your hormones so that you can get to feeling more like your old self again.
As far as the best probiotics to take, click here for the kind of strains on the back of the bottle that you should be on the lookout for.
3. Do Some Kegels
If you had a cesarean, one thing you won't have to worry too much about is getting your vagina back into tip-top shape. But if you did experience a vaginal birth, kegels can really come to be your best friend when it comes to tightening your vaginal walls back up. While the reality is that your vagina will probably not fully return back to its pre-birth shape, time and kegels can get you close to around 80-90 percent. To tell you the truth, kegels is something that all women should do on a regular basis because, if a baby doesn't "shift" our vaginal walls, aging can cause our pelvic floor to become weaker and more fragile as well. Besides, kegels can do all sorts of other things for you like increase blood circulation to your vaginal area (which can intensify your orgasms), help to stop any bladder leakage that you might be experiencing and help to give your back and hips some additional support. For tips on how to do kegels correctly, click here.
4. Openly (and Mutually) Share Your Emotions
When you have a baby, everything is a "new normal"; to a certain degree, this includes your sex life. While it can certainly help to share what you're feeling with your physician and close friends (especially if they happen to be mothers too), the reality is they aren't the one who's having sex with you; your partner is. That's why it's so important to be willing to share your thoughts, concerns and maybe even fears with him and that you allow him to do the same with you. This isn't the time to get super defensive, self-conscious or to put up walls.
A foundational component of a thriving sex life is open communication.
The more you both allow the other to share their feelings, no matter how potentially awkward those feelings may be, the greater the chances are that the two of you will develop a newer sense of trust for one another—the more you'll feel wanted and needed on an unconditional level that goes way beyond the physical. And when two people are at this point and place, the sex has the potential to be so much better than it ever was before.
5. Bring the Romance Back In
It's kind of crazy that someone who is (usually) under 10 pounds can literally take over an entire house the moment they come inside of it. Suddenly it's like, whatever your baby wants, they cause you to forget that you have your own wants and needs too. This is another area where finding a sense of balance is so crucial. Although it may be a while before you're either up to going out and down to fully trust someone to watch your child while you do it, don't forget that you and your partner can still bring romance into your home. For starters, check out my article, "10 Romantic Dates You Can Go On (In Your Own Home)". Beyond that, be intentional about speaking each other's love languages, participate in some orgasmic meditation, give your man a nice massage (then have him return the favor). In a thriving sex life, before sex, there's foreplay and before foreplay, there's romance. As you ease back into having sex again, following this pattern can make getting back into the swing of things, so much easier for you to do.
6. Be Open to a Lil’ Oral Warm-Up First
If intercourse feels too uncomfortable, the first couple of times that you try to get back into the saddle of things, remember that oral sex is always an option. It's a pretty dope one too since a lot of women are able to experience orgasms a little quicker (and easier) that way. Not only that, but if you focus on receiving cunnilingus more during this time, that can help to bring more natural lubrication back into the picture as, again, your body is getting back used to you having sex again on the regular (if you need to bring in some lubrication during sex, by all means do, please). As a bonus, fellatio can be a good way for your partner to be able to get some of his own sexual pressure off until you're feeling better about having sex more consistently. Shoot, it's not like his sperm doesn't come with some health benefits for you in the process (check out "Do You Swallow? The Unexpected Health Benefits Of Sperm"). Just sayin'.
7. Try Positions That Leave Your Breasts Out of It
Any woman who's ever had a baby before (especially if she decided to breastfeed once her child was born) can vouch for the fact that figuring out how to "process" breasts is no easy feat. When you were growing up, they were all yours. When you got into a relationship, you sexually shared them with your partner. Now, you've got a little person who wants to cling to them constantly for sustenance's sake.
Shifting between all of those gears can be confusing and a little overwhelming, at times (not to mention the fact that your breasts don't actually feel the sexiest or most comfortable while they are engorged with milk). So, if you kind of want your breasts to sexually be off limits for a while, don't feel the least bit guilty about that. The workaround is to get into sex positions where your breasts aren't a major focal point.
Ones that immediately come to mind are spooning, the corkscrew, the flatiron, doggy style and the leapfrog (which is a variation of doggy style). If all of these names have you looking at your screen like, "huh?", Women's Health has offered up 46 sex positions, including pictures. You can check 'em out here in order to grasp a greater concept of what each position looks like.
8. Don’t Decide How Your Partner Sees You on Your Own
Not too long ago, I checked out the movieConception. Although it had no Black people in it (I know, right?), it really was cute and offered up some super realistic moments when it comes to how women handle body image struggles after giving birth. As a doula, I'll be real with you—more times than not, bodies do change after having a baby; ones that take some time to get used to. Your breasts may not be as firm. Your tummy will probably not be as tight. You might have stretch marks. Your skin may have some discoloration. We already touched on the fact that your vagina may be looser. Listen, you just gave birth to a whole human being; that alters things.
But if there's something that a lot of women concern themselves with, if there's one thing that they really shouldn't obsess too much over, it's the feeling that their partner will not desire them in the same way because of all of the changes. Girl, that couldn't be further from the truth. First, if you're someone who wasn't really up to having sex during your entire pregnancy, your third trimester or even simply a few weeks leading into your due date, if you add to that the weeks of healing following giving birth, your partner has been waiting for a minute. He's gonna be nothing short of thrilled to get some again, regardless. And secondly, most of the men I've worked with (via being a doula) finds the woman who delivered their child to be a superhero. No joke. The fact that their partner was able to handle physically bringing a child into this world, earns that woman a level of respect and admiration that didn't exist prior to their son or daughter being born. And that can be really sexy to a man.
So, don't create fictional movies in your mind by assuming that just because you are feeling a little self-conscious (which is totally understandable) that your partner is looking at you with the same critical eye. Oftentimes, those full breasts, extra thickness and tiny lines are sexy AF to your partner. Hey, if you don't believe me, ask him.
9. Ease Slowly into It
Do you remember back when you gave your virginity (I don't like to use the word "lost" unless it's related to trauma; we know where our virginity "went")? If you were with an unselfish person who truly cared about you, he was prepared to take things slow because the first few times getting used to sex was probably awkward, uncomfortable and maybe even painful. That moment in time can actually help you to prepare for this one. While you do pretty much know what to expect when it comes to sex, getting used to it while your body is still getting readjusted can also result in awkwardness, uncomfortableness and maybe even a little bit of pain. There's no need to rush into what you're not fully ready for. Take your time. The more patient that you and your partner are with one another, the more at ease you will become, and the better sex can be (again).
10. Remember, Your Baby’s Too Young to Know
When you're trying to balance your sex life with a new baby, sometimes, you've gotta get in where you fit in. While I'm personally not a fan of babies being in the bed, pretty much from day one (co-sleepers are a dope alternative, though), whether your baby is in your bed or in the room with you, don't worry about if you've got to have sex with them in your presence. A lot of professionals say that babies don't start to cultivate lasting memories until around the 14-18 month mark and even then, it's usually nothing too substantial (lasting memories start to occur around three or so). So, have sex…whenever. Your baby won't remember a thing. Promise.
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at email@example.com. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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Have you ever been in a relationship with someone and felt so deeply connected to them? Everything about the relationship was intense – good or bad? Then you might be in a part of a soul tie.
The concept of a soul tie binds individuals on a level beyond a relationship's physical and emotional aspects; it’s more than a mere connection. You can form a soul tie with anyone – lover, friend, colleague, etc.- but we are discussing romantic partners for this article. Think of you and your partner as an intensely burning flame. The flame can burn passionately to light the relationship’s way or chaotically burn everything in its path. Either way, it leaves an indelible mark on the souls involved.
A soul tie should not be confused with the term “soulmate.” The main difference is that a soul tie can be positive or negative, while a soulmate is a mutual, harmonious connection. Unlike a soul tie, a soulmate relationship is generally characterized by mutual understanding, support, and shared values.
However, the more we learn about soul ties, the more it becomes evident that they are not monolithic; they vary in nature and intensity. As someone who has experienced a negative soul tie, it is crucial to discern whether they contribute positively to personal growth or hinder you from flourishing.
If Your Soul Tie Is Positive
A positive soul tie creates a deep and affirming connection between individuals. One key indicator of a positive soul tie is effective communication. If you’re experiencing a positive soul tie, a shared understanding fosters open and honest dialogue, contributing to a sense of connection and support.
Mutual growth is another hallmark of a positive soul tie. When individuals in a relationship encourage each other's personal development and evolution, it signifies a positive and uplifting connection. This mutual support leads to an environment where both parties can thrive individually and together, contributing to the overall health of the soul tie.
Emotional security is a crucial element in identifying a positive soul tie. In such connections, individuals feel a deep sense of trust and comfort with each other. This emotional security forms a stable foundation for the relationship, allowing both parties to express vulnerability and foster a strong, positive bond. These three indicators—effective communication, mutual growth, and emotional security—underscore the positivity inherent in a healthy and affirming soul tie.
If Your Soul Tie Is Negative
A negative soul tie manifests as a detrimental and draining connection between individuals. One clear sign of a negative soul tie is the presence of emotional turmoilwithin the relationship. When the connection becomes a source of constant distress, causing emotional upheaval and hindering personal development, it indicates a negative soul tie.
Codependency is another red flag for a negative soul tie. In such connections, individuals may become overly reliant on each other, impeding their ability to thrive independently. Codependency often leads to unhealthy dependencies and can result in a toxic dynamic that hinders both individuals' growth and well-being.
A lack of effective communication is a third indicator of a negative soul tie. When there is a breakdown in communication, misunderstandings and unresolved issues can fester, contributing to a strained and unhealthy connection. In negative soul ties, the absence of open and honest dialogue can perpetuate a cycle of negativity and prevent the resolution of underlying issues. These three indicators—emotional turmoil, codependency, and poor communication—point to the negativity associated with an unhealthy soul tie.
Putting Out The Fires And Breaking Your Soul Tie
Unfortunately, my deep, intense connection only caused destruction. And despite the obvious red flags, it took a minute before I broke the connection. Why? Because I was addicted to the relationship, we both were. But it is possible to break a soul tie if and when you are ready because if you are not, pretending you are when you are not is a waste of your time.
Breaking a soul tie requires intentional and purposeful actions. Establishing clear and firm boundaries is a fundamental step in severing the connection. By limiting contact and emotional engagement with the person involved, individuals can gradually weaken the tie and create space for personal growth.
Seeking professional support is another effective strategy to break a soul tie. Guidance from therapists or counselors provides valuable insights and coping strategies. Professional assistance can help individuals navigate the emotional challenges associated with breaking a soul tie, offering a structured and supportive environment for healing.
Redirecting energy toward personal growth is important in breaking free from a soul tie. Engaging in activities that promote individual well-being and create a sense of independence allows individuals to refocus their attention on their own growth and development. This redirection of energy is essential for breaking the emotional bonds of a soul tie and moving towards a healthier, more fulfilling life.
The last step I advise everyone to go through is the mourning period. My partner and I did our song and dance for years before I walked away. And I would be lying if I didn’t say that I mourned our relationship while I healed.
Recognizing the presence and nature of a soul tie in your relationship is crucial to understanding its impact on your well-being. Whether positive or negative, the intensity of a soul tie can shape the course of your personal growth and happiness. Breaking free from a negative soul tie demands intentional efforts, from setting clear boundaries to seeking professional support. Redirecting energy toward personal growth and allowing oneself a necessary mourning period are vital steps toward healing and liberation from the intricate ties that bind.
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Feature image by JD Mason/ Unsplash