For many couples, the birth of a child can bring with it a shift in their intimate relationship. Having a child triggers such a sudden and massive transition to our identity, our body and sometimes even our sex drive, so it makes perfect sense that new parents can often find themselves on different pages when it comes to intimacy and sex.
And that is just one of the reasons I am so excited to talk about ways couples can rebuild connection and intimacy in their relationship with life coach and the creator of the WTF Trimester, Chelsea Skaggs.
It’s not about where you’ve been, but about acknowledging where you are now and where you’d like to go. Chelsea will share some powerful suggestions and step-by-step guidance for working to get back your spark, combating some of the most common sources of postpartum sex anxiety, and working on your inner growth to help you feel more confident and assured in your own skin.
The way that we see ourselves is then the way that we present ourselves to a partner. And when we are really leaning into becoming a full confident version of ourselves, then we invite our partner to know us in our strength.
Dr. Sarah (00:22):
When we have a baby, we go through a massive shift to our identity, our body, and sometimes our sex drive. So it’s no wonder some couples find themselves on different pages when it comes to intimacy and sex. After the birth, their child, joining me to discuss this and ways that you can reconnect with your partner is certified professional life coach and intimacy expert Chelsea Skaggs. Chelsea and I are talking all about strategies that will help give couples the tools to improve their confidence, communication, and connection.
Dr. Sarah (00:59):
Do you sometimes find yourself questioning whether you’re doing this whole parenting thing right? Second, guessing yourself, losing your cool and falling prey to mom, guilt. You are not alone. And that is why I will be hosting a free live masterclass to help you genuinely feel confident in parenthood. I’ll be teaching what I like to call my confidence recipe with the specific things you need to know. And some very important things we all need to let go of that can really get in the way of confident parenting. We won’t be just talking theory. You will walk away from this masterclass with tools that you can put into practice right away to challenge that self-doubt to stop panic Googling and find the ease in early parenthood. So head to my website, drsarahbren.com and click the workshops tab to sign up for my free masterclass, Confident Parenting From The Start. It’s gonna be on July 6th and July 7th. Or if you’ve got your phone in your hand, just click the link in my Instagram bio to sign up. See you there!
Dr. Sarah (02:03):
Hi, I’m Dr. Sarah Bren, a clinical psychologist and mom of two in this podcast. I’ve taken all of my clinical experience, current research on brain science and child psychology and the insights I’ve gained on my own parenting journey and distilled everything down into easy to understand and actionable parenting insights. So you can tune out the noise and tune into your own authentic parenting voice with confidence and calm. This is Securely Attached.
Dr. Sarah (02:40):
Hello, everyone. We have a very special guest today with us. Her name is Chelsea Skaggs, and she is the creator of the WTF Trimester. And she is the person to talk about this topic of intimacy after baby. And so I’m just grateful that you’re here. Thank you for coming on.
Yes. Thank you, Sarah. It’s so fun to be sitting, you know, face to face and chatting with you today.
Dr. Sarah (03:04):
Yeah, so we met on Clubhouse like a long time ago and like have sort of, I’ve been following all the stuff that you’ve been doing on Instagram and you have amazing content for parents. And for couples. And I was, when I wanted to do an episode, I realized we’ve never done an episode on like sexuality and intimacy in our relationship with our bodies and our partners after we have kids. And I, you were the first person I thought of cuz I was like, I just like the way you normalize and you validate and you have such like a respect for everyone’s bodies. And so I, yeah, I’m very happy to hear your take on all this stuff.
Dr. Sarah (03:45):
How did you get into this work?
Yeah, so when I had my first child, this was almost six years ago. I left the education field and I had actually studied psychology and sociology and I geeked out on it and I thought I would go into therapy and I ended up taking some different roads and I found my way into life coaching. And so I started to explore life. Coaching started to work in that area and being postpartum. And then beyond myself, I felt like it was such an underserved and misunderstood time of life. And so when I was deciding where to really take my career and my path, I decided I wanted to focus on early motherhood. And from there, the more that I worked with new moms, the more I saw this repeating pattern or standout topic, which was the relationship and how much impacts the relationship, how much our own confidence, our families, our bodies, our sleep, like all of these things impact the relationship and vice versa. The relationship is impacting all of these buckets and areas of a mom’s life. And so I really developed my work and my coaching curriculum around how to support parents on one, the relationship with themselves. And two, their relationship with one another, because I think we all want to have healthy family foundations. And that primary relationship is such an important piece.
Dr. Sarah (05:28):
Yes, I agree. And it’s, I think it’s such an important point that it’s all intertwined. Like you can’t isolate any one of these things, because I always say this when I talk about family therapy, but it’s the same with the self it’s. Like I always say in family therapy, think of the family, like a spider web and like everything’s connected, you pull one thread, the whole thing moves and that’s true for families, but it’s also true for ourself and all of like the pieces, right. That exist in our lives, like you, you pull one thread, maybe it’s our intimacy with our partner, or maybe it’s our confidence or maybe it’s our communication skills. You pull one thread, everything else moves. Like we are complex beings and we don’t have these like isolated skillsets. They’re all working together.
Yeah, most definitely.
Dr. Sarah (06:18):
Yeah. So, okay. When we are thinking about, okay, maybe you’re a postpartum parent and you are moving into this new world of parenthood, your body has changed a tremendous amount and you want to, you’re ready to start thinking about being intimate with your partner again. Or maybe you’re a parent of like a five year old and you’re like, I still have to work on this because I haven’t really actually addressed it in the way that’s led to feeling good and feeling satisfied in my intimate relationship. Because I think that that’s both are really normal.
Dr. Sarah (06:55):
What do you, yeah. Tell us, tell me what you think about all this.
Yeah, well, I think you hit such an important point there that this is a journey and we all put the pieces back together for ourselves at different rates and in different ways. And so I love that you normalize, yeah. This might be someone who is, you know, six weeks, eight weeks after baby, really thinking about how to have sex again for the first time. And this might be the parents who have older kids who are really wanting to have a spark and a connection back and not just, you know, routine check boxes or half engaged intimacy. So this really is something that impacts us at all different points and we get to get better at knowing. And this is how I see it at knowing ourselves first at growing that relationship and understanding of ourselves. And then being able to share that with our partner to have that connection and growth with one another.
Dr. Sarah (08:07):
So it starts with us. Is what I’m hearing you say.
It does. I totally believe that it starts with us and I’m sure you come across this sometimes to Sarah. But I’ll often get, you know, parents where maybe one is more engaged in the growth and the conversation than the other one is, and they can feel really discouraged. But I think the cool thing is that no one can stop us from doing the inner healing, the inner growth, the getting to know ourselves and growing our confidence. And when we do that, that has this whole domino effect. So it’s ideal and perfect when both partners are like, yeah, I wanna really dig in and grow and get to know myself and communicate that with you. But also that’s not always the case. And so it’s okay too, for one person to really start the blossoming.
Dr. Sarah (09:05):
Yes, that’s so interesting. Cause that immediately made me think of parenting cause like there’s a big parallel there. Like a lot of times I work with parents and like one parent is like really interested in exploring a more responsive style and being really tuned in and emotionally validating and supportive in that way. And the other parent for lots of very valid reasons are like, no, this kid needs discipline. And like, we’re doing it the way that I was raised. And this is what we know, and this is what actually kids need, whatever. There is a parent who has a little bit more, needs a little bit more understanding of this process to get on board. Right. They’re not saying like I refuse, they’re just saying I don’t get why that doesn’t make sense to me. Yeah. And so, and I say to the parents in that situation where you have a parent, who’s like, they’re just not really on board with this. I say start anyway. Like start with your own relationship with your child on doing the responsive parenting with your child. And very often when this other partner observes the benefit of it and starts to see things working in a different way, they often get curious and they get on board. And so I kind of feel like there’s a parallel there too.
Totally, totally. And when we’re talking about the intimate relationship, I think that the way that we see ourselves is then the way that we present ourselves to a partner. And when we are really leaning into becoming a full confident version of ourselves, then we invite our partner one to know us at our best to know us in our, growth in our strength. And also again, I think they get curious about what’s going on and how to deepen and connect with themselves and with their partner.
Dr. Sarah (10:54):
Yeah. Yes. Because just like, it’s gotta start with us. For our partners, it kind of has to start with them having a relationship with themselves too. So if they observe us kind of tuning into our needs and our own relationship with ourselves and sharing that with them, then they’re also maybe likely to be more introspective of their needs and what they want and maybe communicate that with us.
Yeah. Totally. And I think that you bring up an important point. I mean, one of the most common frustrations I hear is when we don’t have good communication, when we have two people who have changed so much that they don’t know themselves, but they’re expecting their partner to know them or to read their mind or to have the fixes. And that causes, you know, this back and forth frustration and resentment, where I love to interrupt that pattern and say, okay, like how do we step back and know ourselves, know how to communicate ourselves and then be able to know what we’re working with as a couple and how to tangibly work with how we are presenting ourselves to our partners.
Dr. Sarah (12:06):
Exactly. Yeah. So, so can you walk us, like what, what would you recommend? What could that look like? How do we get to know ourselves better? How do we work on communicating that more effectively?
Yeah. Yeah. So I love to use the word curious, and I think you used it earlier, but I love to encourage people to get curious and very tangibly. What this means is this is especially effective in times where we can be using self judgment or we could be critical. I did that or I did this, or I hate myself for this. You know, we’ve got these real self critical things or it could be the opposite things that we’re really proud of or things we feel really good about instead of assigning a judgment or a value to those things. Like what does it look like to get curious about why we do something or why something is especially triggering to us or why, you know, our, our partner did X and we got very defensive. So I think that first step is always curiosity. It’s, it’s like, let’s use this idea of, of working with our toddlers, for example, like they can be hard to understand. And we, we have to start with getting curious about why are they reacting this way, or why is this behavior coming out when I do X? So we get to see ourselves in the same way. I think we get to almost be watching ourselves from the outside and figure out a little bit more about what our patterns are and what’s happening.
Dr. Sarah (13:47):
Yes, yes. That sort of mindful awareness of the way that we talk to ourselves, our inner voice. I think that’s a big, a good place to start. I really think that is a great place to start. Cuz when I work with people, the amount of like, they’ll say something to me, like a thought out loud and I’ll be like, is that the way you say that? Like, is that the words that you would say in your head. And like, sometimes it’s really harsh, like really, really harsh. Like, would you ever speak that way to your partner? Would you ever speak that way to a friend? Would you ever speak that way to a child? And most times they’re like, no, woah hold on. Actually. No, I wouldn’t. And, and there’s a little bit of like a, like we are so used to hearing that voice in our head that we sometimes get really desensitized to it, but sometimes it can be very, very abusive.
Yeah. Yeah, definitely. And on the other hand, I think we can also be listening for what are the things that are bringing us joy again? What are the things that are awakening our passions? What are the small tits in the day? Because especially in those early weeks, I mean the days are crammed with sleep and schedules and eating and you just sometimes feel like you’re giving everything, but what is awakening your soul a little bit? And it’s also, I think really important to grab hold of those things so that we can continue to build on them and we can continue to focus on how to integrate that a little bit more. So, all that to say, I like to start with non-judgmental curiosity about yourself so that you can then have more insight and better language to start communicating your needs, your desires, your questions to your partner.
Dr. Sarah (15:44):
Yeah. And so how do, like, how do you suggest, or how do you coach parents, you know, to start? You start to notice, you get curious and then what do you do?
Well, I think you, you have to have a place to make sense of that, whether that is a journal or voice memos or working with a professional, I think it’s third parties are so valuable and some of us have that friend that we can bounce these things off of, or a mom. But finding a place to get some more clarity. Like we kind of we open up a Pandora’s box, right? And so we have all of these thoughts and ideas and we need to start to sort through them and make sense of them and know where our values lie, where our goals are, where we’re trying to go. So I think for some people that is their partner that they can really sort through and make sense of that. And for some people it’s another third party so that they can then have some more sense of where they’re trying to go and what they’re trying to communicate with their partner. And that is so unique to the situation. I mean, maybe a bridge has been burnt. Maybe there’s a lot of resentment. Maybe there’s a disconnect in those cases. Right. We can’t necessarily always do the external processing with our partners, but sometimes, you know, there’s a really healthy way to do that with them.
Dr. Sarah (17:09):
Yeah. And I think, I mean, it’s, it’s interesting cuz like, even like we’re talking about this in a bit vague, like we’re, we’re being, I think intentionally sort of vague, cause we’re trying to encompass all the different ways that intimacy issues can come up in early, you know, as you become a parent or later on, but like a lot of times sex and having sex and talking about sex, especially talking about our needs with our partner and it’s vulnerable. It’s hard. It’s a little, I mean, you, we talk about having a place to process it. Like how, how often can you communicate like can you vent to your girlfriends about when your baby was sleeping or what, what, you know, what’s, what’s the challenge of the day in motherhood. How often are we talking about sex though? How often are we talking about pleasure and other ways that we are getting our needs met outside of like the easy to talk about ones. And so I think, yeah. Make a, like having a journal or having some objective third party where you can talk about really vulnerable stuff. And practice talking about and thinking about really vulnerable stuff, cuz it’s like a lot of us have been trained out of thinking about that. Totally. Cuz we spend so much time avoiding thinking about it totally. And talking about it.
Totally. Totally. And that’s, I think, even though it’s really hard, like motherhood is almost this refreshed opportunity to say either I’m gonna let things stay taboo and I’m gonna go down this path that feels like, you know, good girl, everyone’s happy with the way that I’m talking about things and thinking about things and it looks good on the outside or for some of us, I think I resonate with this. Motherhood opens up this box of like, wait, I get to bust out of this. Like I get to advocate for myself. I get to talk about my needs. I get to decide that this doesn’t have to be taboo anymore because my pleasure and my inner thoughts and all of this actually do matter. So I’m gonna choose to validate them by breaking the stigmas and entering the space. So I guess to that, I also just wanna say to any mama listening that I know how big and brave and scary it is to be vulnerable about taboo topics, especially when we have not had that openness maybe in our own lives for years. But it’s so worth it. Like it’s like entering this whole other realm of life where we get to just exist even more purely and truly so just a side tangent for those mamas. Like it’s worth it to bust out of the taboo boxes we’re often in.
Dr. Sarah (19:58):
Yeah. And I think it’s hard because we’re talking about two people typically and it’s two people’s fear of the taboo fear of the vulnerability and the intimacy. And like I think, you know, obviously there’s relationships come in all shapes and sizes and some people really have that sexual connection and that sexual communication down and then they have a baby and they’re able, they go through a phase where it’s maybe goes away and then it, they can get it to come back. There are some people who had it and then they have a baby and they, it feels a little bit lost and there are some people who didn’t really have it before they had the baby and they don’t really know how to get it. And like I think there’s, you know, at the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter so much where you’ve been it’s a lot more like where are you now? And where would you like to go? Which I think is a lot of the work that you do.
Yeah. Yeah. And I think we get to decide what sex and intimacy means to us and the value that it brings to our lives. You know, I don’t know if this feels like a tangent, but especially, you know, in Western societies we’re given this message. Most of our lives about the function of sex, about the function of a female body and what a male body is, or, you know, we’ve just been fed these ideas. And now, I think when you enter parenthood, naturally some of those things feel less relevant or feel less I don’t know, graspable. Like, it’s not the same two people look across the room and it’s all this fire and energy and that, that can come back. But we get to redefine what it means to be a team, to be partners who are coming together to engage in pleasure and stress relief. And this the value. Like there’s so many benefits of good sex that aren’t spoken about. You know, it’s great for your sleep. It’s great for your hormones. It’s great for your stress. And I think it’s really cool to look at this again and say, how do we serve each other? How do we work together in this? And maybe even have conversations that redefine the function of sex from kind of the societal narrative that we’re given most of our lives to now really figuring out how we work together as a team and serve each other.
Dr. Sarah (22:46):
Yeah. Yeah. It’s really interesting. And I feel like for that to happen for us to sort of be like, okay, we’re a team. We’re gonna look at this as one of the many ways that we support one another. And like maximize our, the benefit of our relationship. Like that takes confidence. That takes a lot of confidence. And, and like, I’m curious, like, you know, whether it’s body image stuff or confidence in our ability to communicate, like how do we build up confidence in parents, after they transition to being parents?
I love this because, one, I wanna talk specifically about new moms and kind of what, what tips I have in the ways that I see that for them. But I don’t want to dismiss that both parents regardless of who is making up the parenting team, both parents are going through a lot of transitions, a lot of changes, a lot of changes to identity and how they see themselves, maybe how they see their bodies and their roles and, you know, the pressures that are coming, whether that’s financially or socially or with family. So everyone is going through a lot of transitions here. And I find that people display it differently. And so it can be easy to sometimes assume that maybe your partner’s not going through these transitions or pressures, or maybe they wear it or show it differently or they internalize it. But I always want to have both partners express the things that they are carrying, the things that have changed, the things that are maybe playing in their head when they can’t fall asleep at night. I think this really humanizes and normalizes us with our partners. And then speaking specifically to, you know even more specifically a birthing mom whose body has gone through a number of changes, body image is a huge part of this for most of the women that I talk to. And so this comes down to understanding one, what actually happens in pregnancy birth and postpartum. I think we still have a huge education gap around what a body goes through. We still don’t have, you know, a, a great understanding and that is true for a lot of birthing moms. And so I think that’s also true for a lot of partners who, if we have little less information than we need, they probably have even less than us.
So listening to podcast or reading blogs or talking to providers and asking specific questions is, is really important. But the person who has gone through a lot of body changes then gets to decide, how am I going to experience my body? How am I going to judge or accept or love my body? And that’s a journey that’s different for everyone. My top tip is always to stop following people on social media who make you feel like crap about yourself. Like number one, first thing, maybe it’s getting rid of your subscription to a certain magazine or a website you follow, or just, you know, Instagram influencers or celebrities that you feel like you’re constantly comparing yourself to. I think those are really important things to be cognizant of is, if I leave this space feeling bad about myself, then maybe this is a space I don’t need to show up right now. And instead build in some practices of affirming my body for what it’s done and normalizing the changes it has been through. And this is also a great time to just practice really loving your body. So two things that I work with the birthing parents through one is just literally experiencing your body, whether that means taking some time to be undressed in front of a mirror and go through your body, thanking it for the ways that it provides life. And it provides your sustainability and, you know, really just slowly going through that. And at first it might be hard. And at first you might not even like really believe it or really feel it, but making that kind of practice, it could also be you know, taking a shower really mindfully. And like, as you’re washing your face, you’re doing some affirmations around your face and you know, your breasts and your belly and all around becoming more mindful of your body beyond just the functional sexual appearance that it provides for other people is a really big change for a lot of people.
Dr. Sarah (28:08):
And that’s the second thing that I know is also taboo, but I, I love to talk about is to get to know your sex pleasure again. So for me, and for clients that I work with, this is getting out or getting in the mail a vibrator for the first time, or getting it back out and not, not in a shameful way and not in a, my partner’s not pleasing me way, but in a I’m gonna go back to that word curiosity in a curiosity way. I wonder how my body has changed. I wonder if my muscles tense up at a certain point that causes sex to be more painful for me. I wonder if I’m just getting through sex with my partner right now, because there’s a certain area that’s painful or because I have a certain fear. And so this can really help you to understand that process without your partner taking on guilt or blame or feeling like they are causing pain or distance from you. So that’s just another area that I think can be a really helpful way to get curious about your own body’s responses and reactions to sex specifically.
Dr. Sarah (29:34):
Yeah. I love that. That says good permission for, I think, women to be able to reconnect sexually with themselves first because you don’t, it’s like having sex with your partner after a baby is a big thing. It can feel very intimidating and very scary for a lot of people. Some people are like, I have waited too long, like get me at it and I can’t wait, but for some people that’s not, it’s, there’s a lot of anxiety. And we know that when we feel anxious, we tense up and we get rigid and everything gets a little bit less comfortable in our bodies. And so it’s like a dry run it’s like practicing and figuring out, you know, what feels good, what doesn’t feel good. So that when I’m actually, you know, doing the live performance, it’s more familiar. It’s less intimidating. You feel more confident.
Yeah. And I kind of have to add a joke in there, Sarah, cuz you called it a dry run and I have to give a reminder that good lube is your best friend, so make it a good lubed up dry run.
Dr. Sarah (30:44):
Yes. A wet run.
Yeah. Yes, totally.
Dr. Sarah (30:49):
Absolutely. That’s a good, that is hilarious. But I think too, we have to talk about so like, okay, we’re normalizing being connected to ourselves. We’re normalizing, figuring out what works and what doesn’t work for you. And also having a lot of compassion for ourselves, for the changes our bodies been through. And now, okay, I’m ready to bring my partner in. How do I talk to them about what feels good and what doesn’t feel good in a way that helps them to stay connected to this process and feel like a part of this, like the teamwork kind of thing.
Yeah. So if we wanted to just do a really practical progression, and this is in a partnership where, you know, you’re feeling trust, you’re feeling like you’re okay and safe to have these conversations with your partner, that would go from you, exploring your body in that way to then giving your partner, the reigns, to use something, to explore your body, whether that’s a vibrator, a wand or something so that you can then express to them. I notice when we go that way or when we go that fast or when we go that deep, like that is, or isn’t working well for me. So then we have them kind of take the steering wheel and then the third step would be, you know, partner to partner exploration. And if they’re not comfortable with that one, I would be curious about what their stigma is around that situation. You know, I think sometimes men particularly see sex toys as their competition or their enemy. When really it can be like their partner. It can be their teammate. It can really be a helpful solution, but if they’re really resistant to that, then it’s just a place to communicate. Hey, I notice that I tensed up in this situation and maybe I need to do some breathing exercises before we have sex, or maybe I need to always have a really hot shower or I need to have another tool to call my anxiety. Or maybe it is that physical pain. Then of course we wanna make sure that you’re getting to a pelvic floor therapist and that you’re getting the kind of exercises and the support that you need. Because if anyone has not been told this, like you don’t need to live with painful sex for the rest of your life. Like having a baby is not a damnation to having painful sex, there are solutions and there are ways to keep navigating this and we get to, you know, assume that our partner wants the best for us. And when doing that, I’ll add this little tidbit in here. I like to have my mom specifically use statements that start with, because, so, because I want to be able to relax before we have sex, I need us to schedule it at first so that I’m able to go through the process of reducing my anxiety and I’m able to show up and be present or, you know, because this has been painful for me, I need to make sure that I can get to a pelvic floor therapist once a week because I really want to have great, enjoyable sex with you and I know that this would be a great tool to do that.
Dr. Sarah (34:16):
Yes. I love that. That’s I think a really great strategy for communicating what you need. Because I think it helps one, give the person, making the request a sense of like self validation first, right? There’s a reason why I’m making this request and it’s valid. Because of this, this is what I need. And I also think for the person receiving it, they are more able to lean in and open their ears because there’s not this ambiguous, I need this. And then they fill in the blank because you are not giving it to me.
Dr. Sarah (34:52):
Versus there’s reasons for this need that aren’t personal to you. They’re just about me and this is my need. Can you help me with this? Like, can we be a team? So I think it helps the receiver sort of stay non defensive and stay engaged and connected and more likely to meet the need.
Yeah. So I like to call this simply proactive and reactive conversation. And so proactive conversation requires us to do some of that inner work of knowing what we’re asking for or what we need or what’s going to help us get to the next place. And by doing that, we can then proactively present this information or request to our partner. And then we’re getting to that like heated, emotional stage, where then it can turn into a blame game or we bring in shame and someone feels defensive and that never turns out good. And then, you know, I hear a mom saying, well, I can’t ever get what I want because you know, they said X, Y, or Z. And so the more that we can know ourselves, identify our needs, our requests and where we’re going as an individual. And as a couple, then the more we can have those proactive conversations, which you would do. If you were playing on a team with someone, you know, you make those decisions proactively as much as possible, which helps you then to be able to still really be on the team. If there’s something that comes up in the heat of the moment that needs to be discussed, but I’m a big fan of more and more proactive conversations and reducing the amount of reactive conversations we’re having.
Dr. Sarah (36:37):
Yeah. Yes. I think that’s a very true thing for all areas of our life sex and otherwise. You know, parenting as a team is also rife with a lot of these same issues where like we have needs, we need to communicate them in a way that other people can hear. So I actually think this strategy, because of this, I need this, is actually a pretty good across the board communication tool for that for a reason.
Totally. I mean, I, I think I even use that with my kids, you know, because we want to enjoy our living space more. Mom and dad are working on renovations and we need the two of you to find some more self-directed play today.
Dr. Sarah (37:21):
So that’s how I presented it to my kids. Now it’s not perfect. Right. But they know that I’m not just saying, go, go away, go do this. You know, but they know, okay, here’s the family goal. And here’s my part in the family goal.
Dr. Sarah (37:37):
Yes. Which allows them to not feel like you are saying, go away from me right now.
Dr. Sarah (37:43):
Right. Like, and I think sometimes that’s our big fear in when we’re telling our partner, this doesn’t feel good or I need this instead. We fear that we’re gonna make them feel like we want them to go away from us right now. And that we don’t want that they’re not doing what we need. And very rarely is that the case or if it is the case, it’s usually not like, the wish isn’t for you to go away from me. It’s to stay close with me and figure this out with me together.
Yes. Yes. And I think it’s so important when we learn that these tough conversations are usually not what cause the disconnect, it’s the conversations that we keep in our heads and then we build resentment around them. And then we build all these stories around them and that’s where I most often see the disconnects building. And so having good respectful conversations is actually how we really do stay close to each other.
Dr. Sarah (38:47):
And it’s hard. It’s easier. I think, to have the conversations in our head. And not say them out loud. It is very, I mean, like I wanna normalize right now, it is really hard to do this. It is really hard to say out loud to your partner, you know what, because I really want to have this experience that feels this way. I need you to do something different. And like that’s really hard. It’s very vulnerable. It’s very scary. And I think as women we’ve been certainly subliminally and explicitly trained not to, not to make those needs totally known that they’re not a, that’s not our role. And I think that’s unfortunate and we have to do the work to unlearn that.
Yeah. Yeah. And you know, just based on what you were saying, like, I think sex gets better for our partners when we are able to advocate for our own pleasure and needs and really level up the shared experience.
Dr. Sarah (39:49):
Yeah. And it’s good to do that. It’s okay to do that. It’s okay for sex to be great.
Dr. Sarah (39:59):
I feel like parents are such martyrs sometimes.
Dr. Sarah (40:04):
Yeah. Well, this was so interesting and I hope that parents took away some like, really tangible strategies that they can use both personally for their own relationship to their self and their bodies, but also to communicate to their partners, what’s gonna help them to feel good and do it in a way that they, you know, feel brave enough to say it out loud and do that work. So I I’m so grateful that you came on and shared this with us.
Yeah. What a good conversation.
Dr. Sarah (40:31):
I know. If people wanna learn more about the work that you do or wanted to get in touch with you, how can they reach you?
Yeah. So I talk about these things on my own podcast, which is Better Relationships After Baby. And you can also find my work online at thewtftrimester.com. So basically that’s like, you know, we know about the fourth trimester and a lot of attention has gone to that, but I find that after those chaotic, first few weeks you’re left saying, what is left now? Like what do I do? Where do I go? Where’s the food? Where are my friends? How do I communicate? So that’s really, what I love is that spot of all the newness is maybe starting wear off and I’m really finding myself and my identity and my relationships again.
Dr. Sarah (41:22):
Yes. That’s a really valuable resource during that time because I agree. I think, you know, we get all this support in pregnancy and then we have the baby and there’s a lot of focus on like getting the baby home, getting everybody back to healthy. But the sort of life support that actually has to occur when we are transitioning into a completely new identity as a human being. And I’m not even talking about our baby right, like as a pare Right. Like we are now a mother or a father. We are now this different part of ourselves. And I think, you know, we didn’t, we haven’t said this yet, but this idea that we’re gonna grieve a little bit.
Dr. Sarah (42:05):
The life that we are leaving behind our partners might grieve the life that they’re leaving behind. And that, that doesn’t have to undermine the beauty of this transformation. Like both can exist. And I think that’s so important. You know, we can mourn the loss of that life. We can be very celebratory about the life we’re moving into. We can be terrified of the, of the in transformation too. And so like these kinds of supports that you provide, these strategies, this way of like staying connected to ourselves, to our partner, like that’s gonna set people up for success.
Dr. Sarah (42:40):
And you know, I think like, you know, I have a course, The Authentic Parent that’s zero to one and it helps parents like find their confidence in that first year. I think it’s, again, it’s like this idea of like, this is not a, like a tiny little window of time. This is a long period of time that this transformation happens and support is important the whole way through.
Dr. Sarah (43:01):
Well, thank you so much for coming on. And I hope that you have a wonderful day and I’m so excited to listen to your podcast as well.
Ah, thank you.
Dr. Sarah (43:10):
Yes. All right. I’ll talk to you soon.
All right. Bye.
Dr. Sarah (43:13):When we become parents, a chapter of our lives closes and an entirely new one begins. This sudden transformation can leave us feeling confused, overwhelmed, and dizzy with emotions. New parents need to allow themselves the opportunity to mourn the closing of that chapter and the life they no longer have and give themselves grace as they adjust and learn to embrace this new person they’ve become. And that’s why I created my workbook, A Psychologist Guide To Becoming A Parent: How to feel less anxious about this transition. The workbook will serve to help you find your balance during this time of massive transition with actionable strategies, conversation starters, and reflective questions to provide you with a roadmap you can use to successfully navigate through this big shift. To download this and many other resources, go to my website, drsarahbren.com and click the resources tab. That’s drsarahbren.com. Until next week don’t be a stranger.
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