Sex

Ask Dr. Hughes: Intimacy After Childbirth

Hi Ladies!

Today we have a special guest post. One of our goals for this blog was to get our anonymous users a chance to get questions answered by professionals. I’ve been in communication with Dr. Anthony Hughes, who is a Certified Sex Therapist, and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist out of Utah county. He is also the author of the book “What Your Parents Didn’t Tell You About Sex: An LDS Guide To Sexual Intimacy.”

As seen on a Sussex Directories Inc site

Dr. Hughes has graciously answered some questions for us that I will be sharing on the blog over the next little while.

Here is the first question he answered:

Has anyone completely lost their drive to have sex after having a baby? I already had pretty low drive but since having a baby it’s basically nonexistent. My husbands love language is touch and cuddling only lasts so long ha. He is SO patient and understanding but I can’t help but think there is something wrong with me. It also doesn’t help that things that used to arouse me don’t anymore – like I cringe but don’t want to say anything. I know he would be understanding but I’m basically ashamed and feel like I’m not being a good wife. I just feel like it’s become such a chore and don’t know what to do. Any advice or related circumstances?
It is normal to have a fluctuation in sex drive with the birth of a child. There are significant hormonal shifts that take place. There are also some other really relevant factors that many people do not consider that impact the sexual drive of many women. While the birth of a child is amazing, it provides a different perception of one’s body and the spouse’s perception as well. For some this can fuel sexual desire and for others this can be more difficult to navigate. Subsequent to the birth of a child sexual body parts such as breasts and nipples are used for very different purposes than they were used before. They become life giving and sustaining. They become pulled, poked, groped, pinched, etc. in a very non-erotic way. Another factor that impacts sexual drive is the lack of sleep and energy given to your young one. Additionally, many parents lose themselves in their children and the sense of self disappears as interests, hobbies, and other things that help to define the person become non-existent fade away and one finds the self in a supporting role rather than in a leading role. Lastly, the focus on the relationship is lessened. The husband may unwittingly focus the bulk of their attention on the new child and the wife takes a back seat. This can also happen for the wife as well. Sexual desire is usually an offshoot of the overall relationship. I would suggest opening up to your spouse as he appears to be an understanding partner. It seems that your shame is what keeps you two from building a closer relationship.

If you would like to schedule a meeting with Dr. Hughes, he has several offices in Utah. You can find more information at: covenantsextherapy.com

Locations: 
519 West State Street, Suite 102
Pleasant Grove, Utah 84062
 3355 N. University Ave., Suite 250
Provo, Utah 84604
9130 South State Street, Suite 125
Sandy, Utah 84070
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How do I deal with anxiety over SIDS?

Anxiety-SIDS

I don’t think I have postpartum depression, but since I’ve had my baby I have out of control anxiety. I can hardly sleep because I’m so afraid of SIDS. I obsess over thoughts of accidents and disasters and losing my baby or my husband.

Is that normal? How do people cope?

First of all, can I say, welcome to motherhood! I was one of the first people in my group of friends to have a baby-and I remember getting asked a lot “how does it feel.” To me, it was best summed up by this quote:

“Making the decision to have a child — it’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”
Elizabeth Stone

I felt like I could never be in charge of my own happiness again because a little human held all of it in his tiny little body. With that overwhelming love, came an even more overwhelming sense of fear and anxiety.

There is a certain amount of anxiety that comes with parenting, especially when you are a new parent. You are completely, 100% in charge of the well-being of another human being. Anxiety is a natural response to protecting your child, and making sure they are safe. New research has actually shown that post-partum anxiety is more common than post-partum depression, so you aren’t alone!

While it is totally normal to have anxiety after having a new baby, this anxiety should start to subside over time-if it doesn’t, that is a red flag that there may be more to it. If you find that your fears are irrational, damaging or all-consuming, check with a doctor. He may talk about medication with you, or refer you to someone who can help you with coping methods.

If you are generally able to rationalize your thoughts, but are having a hard time getting sleep-I would highly recommend investing in a baby sleep monitor.

I slept horrible when I had my first baby-and I totally blame the fact that I was so paranoid about SIDS, that I was waking up constantly just to check on him. I wish I would have invested in a monitor so I could have gotten more sleep. Sleep is the key to feeling good in the first few months of having a new baby. If I could re-do anything with my first little guy, it would be buying a sleep monitor, HANDS DOWN.

Here are a few reputable sleep monitors:

Angel Care: The Angel Care monitor is nice because it comes with a video monitor as well-which is huge if baby is in another room and you like to check in. The monitor is nice so it can go under the mattress-so you don’t have to constantly charge a sock or readjust. It’s also a pretty good price at about $100, considering that you will pay the same amount for a video only monitor. (It also has a 2-way communication feature which is awesome.)

Snuza: The Snuza is a clip on device that goes on your babies diaper when they sleep. It senses abdominal movements, and vibrates if the baby isn’t having enough in a certain period of time-which generally is enough to rouse the baby. After 3 attempts, it will alert you. Keep in mind this is NOT a good option if you co-sleep because it picks up other people’s movements, not just babies. It also is priced at around $100.

Owlet: The Owlet is the option we personally went with. I liked the fact that I would get notifications on my phone, as well as on a monitor that was next to my bed. So if I ever woke up in the middle of the night, I could look at the soft green light and know all was well. We really liked the portability of the Owlet, and took it on vacation with us a few times. My only issue with it was that I constantly forgot to charge it, or my husband would leave it in our babies pajamas when he changed him and it would get lost. There is also a little bit of a learning curve (we got several false alarms in the beginning.) The price is higher than most at $300, but was worth all of the extra sleep and peace of mind we got!

If a brand new monitor is not in the budget-check your local yard sale pages. I have seen a TON of these for sale second hand, and many are in great condition.

Let me know if you have any questions, and most importantly, get some sleep and enjoy the ride!

M (1)

 

 

 

 

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I need help…but we can’t afford counseling.

Counseling (1)

 

I need help. I have begun to realize that my mood changes radically. I feel stuck in my life and like I have no motivation to do the things I like anymore, I feel tired all the time, I feel like my life is really worthless. I don’t find fulfillment in anything, not even my marriage. I don’t ever want to have intimacy with my husband anymore. I am deal with anxiety that just swallows me everyday. I am really struggling, I am wondering if this is depression and what I can do about it? We can’t afford counseling right now, but I would be willing to save for it long term, I just don’t know why I am feeling like this. I just want to be happy.

On our page we see a LOT of posts and questions that come down to one basic thing-someone needs professional help, but they can’t afford it. I did some research on different options to make counseling affordable.

Before I get to my list, I do want to bring up one thing-budgeting. In my opinion, there are very few things more important than your mental health and well-being. Make sure your basic needs are met (food, shelter, clothing, gas for your car) and then figure out how you can make room in your budget for counseling. If 10 counseling sessions (at $50 a piece) are what it takes to save your marriage, make you feel better, or move you forward, it is TOTALLY worth it. I don’t know anyone who would say “$500 wasn’t worth saving my marriage.”

Insurance: This is the first option that comes to mind, because it’s the most obvious. If you have health insurance, find out what providers they cover, and what your copay is. You can even use a health savings account to pay for any sessions. If you don’t have health insurance, ask your employer for a book of benefits. Many employers offer benefits called EAP’s (employee assistance programs) that aren’t well known-like counseling hotlines. Some insurance providers even have free “ask a doctor” chat features. If you don’t have insurance or aren’t working, even Medicaid insurance covers community counseling.

Cash: If you don’t have insurance, or have a very high deductible, I would recommend asking  for the cash price. Many healthcare services (not just counselors) steeply discount their rates if you pay up front, at the time of your session. Along with this, some counselors do have sliding scales, where they charge a co-pay based on your income, so what you pay for services is tailored to what you can afford.

Colleges: If you are a college student, take advantage of all of the awesome services colleges provide for their students. One of these services is in-house counseling. Generally the student can go by themselves, or with their spouse, and you will have access to a professional, licensed counselor for free. This also applies if you or your spouse work for a college. Even better, they work with mostly college aged young adults, so they have a ton of experience with issues young adults face.

Churches: If you are religious, check to see what counseling services are available to you. Some churches have their own form of counseling services (like LDS Family Services) and some will help pay for you to go to counseling if you cannot afford it. Church counseling can have pros and cons. Keep in mind that if you go to a church sponsored facility, you may get a lot of advice that is targeted towards your spiritual well being (like prayer or scripture recommendations.)

Self-Help: If you are in a position where you cannot afford any form of counseling, or a co-pay, I would highly recommend pursuing self help. This is an especially good option if you are aware of your specific weaknesses and mental health needs. There are so many books on everything from anxiety, to relationship rescue, to depression-and they can be extremely valuable. Local libraries often have these books in stock, and if they don’t, they will order them in for you. There are also a lot of free podcasts, apps and Youtube channels that focus on self improvement. I highly recommend Ted Talks.

 

Resources:

NAMI (National Association for Mental Illness): They can direct you to free or affordable counseling and support options.

SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration): A comprehensive national organization who can help you find low cost and affordable mental health options.

 

Have you used any of these services in the past? Have you used a service I didn’t mention? Please let me know!

M (1)

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What Do I Do Before I Have Kids?

What Do I Do

“With my anxiety I have had the hardest time with getting the courage to start working again. I don’t have to work, but I don’t know what degree I want to get, so I’m stuck at home with no kids. I’ve been developing hobbies, but I feel guilty for not working or going to school. My husband is doing both full time and it hurts to think I’m not pitching in. The reason I am hesitant getting a job is that I am so hard on myself. If I make a mistake, it ruins my whole day because I’m worried what my boss or manager would think. I forget things easily and my logic skills are awful. Crowds also get to me. I’ve only worked at fast food restaurants that get so busy, and I haven’t tried other types of jobs. Another reason I’m not going to school is because I feel like it’s almost time for me to become a mom, but what the heck do I do in the meantime??”

Anxiety can be a very hard issue to deal with-especially when fear of the unknown is involved. That being said I do think there are a few directions you can go.

School: Contrary to popular belief, schooling doesn’t have to be something you do ONLY if you have a specific direction in mind. Do generals. Get an associate degree. Take some classes in things that interest you. They have classes on everything from social media to blogging to pop culture. You can learn how do use photoshop, get better at public speaking, or learn job skills. A class can be something that interests you, and it might even point you in the right direction for a career. Keep in mind that these courses don’t even have to be in a traditional campus-they can be fully online and done from home.

If traditional schooling isn’t for you, you might want to consider a trade school.  You can go to a school that is online, or in house, and learn all of the skills to get a job. A lot of these schools also set you up with an externship, or provide real life practice, so you can see the job in action before you take the step to work there.

If you are looking for an online program, or work from home options, I HIGHLY recommend Career Step. They offer a lot of programs in the medical field, and they have a few options where you can work from home after you graduate.

Working: If school isn’t something you want to pursue right now, I would recommend getting online and checking local job listings daily (I really like Indeed.com) If money isn’t the big drive, look for something that you feel like would be fun or interesting. Check with friends for entry level positions at places they enjoy.  Working with people you are comfortable with can even help ease some of the anxiety associated with doing something new. When someone hires you, they KNOW you aren’t going to be perfect. They know you are going to require training and time to get good at what you do. As long as you are willing to try, and make an effort to ask questions and improve yourself, you will be just fine.

Volunteering: If you decide against school, and working, I would highly recommend volunteering your time. I think this not only gives you potential job skills (in a situation where you don’t have to worry about being criticized) but it will also give you a sense of accomplishment. Sites like VolunteerMatch  allow you to choose things you care about, and will find places in your local area to give back.

I think you have several options, but before you go any of those directions, and before you start to have kids, I would highly recommend counseling. I think that counseling has such a negative stigma attached to it, and it isn’t negative at all. It is a way to improve how we think, how we treat ourselves, and how we associate with others. If you can get your anxiety issues sorted out, and learn some coping methods, you might find that the idea of school or work no longer stress you out-or that you are ready to take the next big step in life.

 

M (1)