e005 – Let’s Talk About SEX – with Kelly Swartz and Heike Ulmer
Today we are talking about SEX and opening up (pun intended) about all things sex after children. We have all been there, right? Where sex feels like a chore after a full day of mommin’? There are some days where Sabrina would rather watch paint dry then put her sexy face on, and she adores her hubby.
We have two amazing and very different guests on today to talk about all aspects of sex after kids. Kelly Swartz is an erotic expert and will be talking about libido, psychology around sex, self-intimacy and all things 'sexy times'. Heike Ulmer is a pelvic floor physio, midwife and doula and will be speaking more about the technical and physical aspects of sex, post children.
Let’s dive into where no Mama has gone before.
With more than ten years of experience in the area of sexuality and expression, Kelly moved from Mexico to Toronto in 2016. She has an M.A. in Critical Theory focused on Erotic Literature, an (almost-completed) Ph.D. in Erotic Literature, and as a graduate of the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, she is sought out for her knowledge, counsel, and wisdom. She is a published author on themes of an erotic nature. Kelly helps navigate topics that are usually laden with ignorance, taboos, and shame using humor and a holistic approach in which all areas of our lives are connected through her company Awoken Beauty. She is also a master dragon fermenter, with two kiddos (dragons) under the age of three and is currently fermenting her third who will come out into the world this month.
Heike is a German midwife with ten years of experience in her field who moved to Toronto with her family in 2016. In Germany, much as in Canada, midwives have the care of their clients during pregnancy, labor, and post-pregnancy, and have the care of the newborn baby. In Germany, they also help mothers with conceiving, breastfeeding, and childbirth recovery. She is also trained in Homeopathy and Acupuncture. On top of all this, she is a proud Mama to her two kiddos.
Kelly asserts that the number one reason why couples are not having sex after babies is EXHAUSTION. But also, EXPECTATION. There is a certain expectation that things are going to go back to the way things were pre-babies, similar to how we feel about expecting our bodies to go back to the same as they were before childbirth. She claims it will never go back, it will just be different. Everything is going to change. The attention you pay to your partner is going to be less. You can’t have the same sex. It just has to be different. She explains that you can’t have the same intimacy you had before. We think because we are spending so much time with our partner caring for the babies that we are spending time together, but in fact, we are not.
She discusses intimacy with yourself and how important it is. According to Kelly, you need to relearn what your body is like and what your new body desires your new sexual preferences. She asks: "How do you expect to be desirable to yourself if you haven’t reacquainted yourself with your new body? “Everything changes when you become a parent, so why wouldn’t sex change too?”
"How do you expect to be desirable to yourself if you haven’t reacquainted yourself with your new body? Everything changes when you become a parent, so why wouldn’t sex change too?” ~ Kelly Swartz
Kelly educates our mamas that our brain is our largest sex organ and the one that is the least used, so in truth, sex is in the brain. She claims, “You don’t really need to put your sexy face on, in truth you have to put your sexy brain on, in order to have your sexy times.” She teaches people to be more intimate with yourself, so you can be more sexual with your partner.
Heike talks about what the parameters are physically after having a baby. The first thing she does is take a mirror to her patients' vagina to show them what it looks like. Most women don’t even know what it looks like, so she finds this helpful in the healing process. She recommends taking a real postpartum period, not even just from sex but actually from doing anything at all. Letting the body and the perineum area heal properly. All the mamas discuss how different this is in North America versus in Europe. The entire birthing process is completely different, there is a lack of empowerment in the birthing process in most cases here. In Europe, there is a mandatory eight-week postpartum perineum strengthening class. Heike tells us that it is not normal to pee when you sneeze or laugh, so if this is the case you should be seeing a pelvic floor physio or take one of her classes.
"It is not normal to pee when you sneeze or laugh after having a child, this is avoidable." ~ Heike Ulmer
Both Heike and Kelly concur that emotions and mindset play a big part in your postpartum recovery.
Kelly takes us through working on the sex drive and intimacy. The first thing she recommends is going out on a date with your partner, and actually going outside of the house without children! Even if it’s a walk around the block, just try not to talk about the big to-do list, simply hang out and spend time with your partner. The second thing she recommends is to go out on a date with yourself. Go to a cafe, drink a coffee and read a book. Be with yourself.
A good birth preparation class is where some of these issues can be discussed, unfortunately here in Canada, these are not necessarily as readily available as in Europe. Luckily while she is in Canada she is teaching these classes here at Evymama. She also cautions to let our partners do child-minding their way when they are taking care of the kids while you take some me time.
Resentment is a huge part of why we lack sex drive, Kelly says. We as women feel like we’ve done so much to have these babies, physically and emotionally and the partner is just sitting there. But we as women need to communicate what we need and how we are feeling. We cannot expect them to guess. They really don’t know, they have not been through it physically.
Kelly recommends taking sex off the table for the first few months after a baby. She suggests finding other ways to be intimate. Heike discusses how parents individually have so much love for the baby, that sometimes in the beginning phases we feel like we don’t have enough leftovers for our partners.
Kelly’s tip for boosting your libido is to expand your horizons. She suggests erotic literature and pornography:
Erotic Literature Library -
“The Perfume” - Patrick Suskind
“Emanuelle” - Emanuelle Arsan
“Little Birds” - Anais Nin
“Fear of Flying” - Erica Jong
“The ages of Lulu” - Almuneda Grandes
Feminist Porn Library -
Heike’s main tip preparing women’s bodies for childbirth is to get as much information as possible about what the changes are going to be in the perineum area (good and bad) so you are prepared. Something physically she suggests is doing a perineum massage, and getting a small mirror at home for after-birth for you to check out the area. For the emotional side of after-birth, she asks her clients to write a small list of what each of their expectations are of their partner for after-birth and then they exchange it “so you know that everybody has needs and expectations and not to forget those that they had before baby.” She also reminds us that for our partners, a lot of changes for them as well. For a certain amount of time, the partner may be carrying the financial burden for that family. That can be stressful as well, and at the end of the day there are high expectations on both ends and everyone is disappointed in the evening. This does not harbor the best environment for “sexy time.”
Kelly ends by assuring our mamas that when it comes to sex: “Everything is normal and everything is not normal, there is no right or wrong”
“Everything is normal and everything is not normal, there is no right or wrong” ~ Kelly Swartz
Connect with Kelly:
Fb: Kelly A.K.
Connect with Heike:
Fb: Heike Ulmer
Resources from our Awesome Mama Guests:
Heike’s Postpartum Pelvic Floor Classes and the Birth Preparation Class: http://www.evymama.ca/classes/fitness-classes/ Use the code “HeikeUlmer“ for 10% discount
Kelly’s Favourite Chocolate Granola, Serves 4
3 cups of rolled oats (not instant, could be gluten free if you want/need) (good for breastfeeding!)
2 cups of barley flakes (could be substituted for any other kind of rolled something, you could just do oats all the way)
2 cups of rye flakes (same goes here. I like different cereals since they give you different kinds of nutrition and all the ones I used are good carbs).
2 cups of spelt flakes (so much iron!)
2 ½ cups of buckwheat (it is extremely nutritions and gluten free, so feel free to substitute any of the other cereals with this. It also has a vast amount of magnesium, which is so good for you!)
2 Cups of unsweetened shredded coconut
2 cups of unsweetened coconut flakes (I used two kinds of coconut since I find it delicious, it has good fats and I like texture in my granola, so coconut helps).
1 cup of sesame seeds (so much calcium! More than milk!)
2 cups of hazelnuts
1 cup of brazil nuts
3 cups of walnuts (I used these nuts because those were the ones I had on hand. Feel free to use whatever!)
1 cup of sunflower seeds
1 cup of pumpkin seeds
2 cups of raw cocoa
2 teaspoons of salt
2 cups of coconut oil (You can use any other kind of oil but I like the taste and the health benefits of coconut oil. It helps the good cholesterol)
2 cups of maple syrup (it is my favorite sweetener, it is not too high on the glycemic index and it is too delicious)
1 ½ cups of tahini paste
2 teaspoons of vanilla
Heat oven to 350 F.
Mix all dry ingredients except nuts, seeds, cocoa and salt. Place all nuts in a food processor and pulse them up enough that they are small pieces but not so much that it turns into powder. Mix the nuts with the rest of the dry ingredients. (I usually add cinnamon because I love cinnamon, but this time i forgot! feel free to add as much as you’d like).
In a small pan place the coconut oil, maple syrup, tahini paste and vanilla. Make sure everything is melted. Taste to see if you like how sweet it is, if you have a sweet tooth, add some more maple. Add the salt and mix it up.
If you are a chocolate fiend like me and want to eat chocolate in a healthy way, this is where the raw cocoa comes in, add it to the liquid you have. If you do not like/ crave/ want chocolate, you can skip this step.
Fold in the wet ingredients into the dry and make sure everything is coated.
Line trays with foil and parchment paper on top. Place the granola on the trays. You will probably either need four trays or have to do this step twice (I told you, the quantity is a big one!)
Make sure the granola is thick and flat. You can use a spatula to flatten and tighten it. Place the trays in the oven for 15-20 minutes. It depends on your oven. Mine is kind of slow on the baking, except in a corner where it likes to burn things up!
After the 15-20 minutes take the trays out and if your granola is in chunks just turn it over, if it isn’t, just mix it up a bit with a spoon.
Most recipes now will tell you to place the trays back in and mix the granola every 2-4 minutes, but who has the time, headspace or attention to actually stand by the oven to do it?
My way of not burning things down is to lower the temperature to 300 and place the trays back in for 10-12 minutes (again, depending on your oven’s mood).
Once you take the trays out wait until it cools down to place into airtight containers.
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