Browsing Category

Education

Education

We’re sex positive, smart, and we want pretty condoms!

Dear condom companies,

We totally get it. Condoms are marketed to men as your primary user base, and we women are just expected be along for the ride. (pun not intended)

We had an inkling that condoms might be letting us down, so we surveyed a bunch of women, smart women, intelligent women, and we found that condoms come up lacking in the marketing department.

Now for those of us who don’t use online shopping yet, we need to stand browsing the condoms between men’s hygiene products, and pregnancy tests, and I’m sorry. I’m a thirty something year old woman, I still feel the embarrassment of appearing to pick out a pregnancy test. I’ve got four kids, go figure.

And frankly, while buying condoms isn’t particularly embarrassing, the marketing on them can be. Do I buy extra large fit? What if I don’t? What am I implying about my partner… Do I go for the extra strong versions? Am I rolling the fertility dice if I don’t buy an extra strong condom? Ribbed? For his pleasure or mine… and who came up with the name “Rough Riders” jeez.

So I get that this marketing is targeted towards men, but you know what… I’d TOTALLY buy and carry condoms that were marketed towards me. A 30 something, sexually active, happily non-monogamous, condom using, woman.

And maybe the blokes won’t buy something that is marketed at women, but frankly with the rise of STIs, and things like antibiotic resistant gonorrhoea on the rise, I really do want to see more women taking control of their sexual health.

My little survey suggests that we are definitely responsible.

It suggests that we are SMART!

Half of us are responsible for purchasing condoms…

But we think the marketing could be done better…

Virtually every other product on the market has some degree of pink washing- but why not condoms? I’m not suggesting that they need to be packaged with ribbons, nor am I suggesting that they need to be pink. I’m suggesting strategic marketing campaigns targeting women.

Because women are primary users of condoms, too. For contraception and for sexual health. I suggest marketing messages that speak to women. Address the health concerns, address the pleasure concerns, and help us make smart, sexual decisions to buy and use your products.

Make condoms cool for women, and make it easy for us to buy.

Education, Relationships

Tumblr, Facebook, PayPal and the big bad ban on Sex.

I’ve been writing as a sex and body positive educator on Polkadotsi for five years now. It’s been an interesting experience finding space to share ideas, content, and spread the idea that bodies are neutral, sex is positive, and talk about all of the things that we should have been taught as children.

It seems however, that there’s a section of humanity that is hell bent on not only repressing the predatory side of human sexuality, but all of it.

That movement is seems to be gaining steam and it’s quite terrifying.

I was reading Hey Epiphora’s great piece When Will We Stop Fearing Sex, and I got to thinking. We need to do something, and our industry is smart, empowered, and incredible enough to do so.

Tumblr and the big bad sex ban

The recent Tumblr decision to remove all  adult content from their site (despite having safe search filters available, despite having really good reporting and response mechanisms in place, and despite their community reacting vocally and negatively to the decision) is the latest in a slate of oppressing, silencing, and shutting down sex related content on social media sites.

Tumblr’s decision seems to be a commercial decision after the app stores pulled their app for implications in child pornography.

But the consequences of silencing and removing adult content are a public health issue. How can we possibly have great conversations about human sexuality, if the places we explore our desires, our proclivities, and what makes us tick are consistently being removed?

How can we have positive conversations about our bodies and their quirks when we are told that anything related to sex is a negative, or shameful thing.

Tumblr’s position on adult content came with the statement “We’ve given serious thought to who we want to be to our community moving forward”

Who is that exactly?

While I understand that there are most definitely individuals who live asexual and non-sexual lifestyles – and that is obviously totally okay; the vast majority of human adults are sexual creatures.

Facebook and Sexual Solicitation, including, wait for it “Sexual Preference”

Arguably there ARE spaces on the internet where sexual content is acceptable and common; however the creeping scope of silencing normal human sexual behaviour on social media sites is distressing.

Take Facebook’s new community guidelines, that state that sexual preference is unacceptable content.

The broad and  vague nature of Facebook’s new community standards give space for basically anything to be deemed sexual and therefore unacceptable by their rules, but where does this leave activists in the LGBTQIA community?

How do we have conversations with the broader, general public about their sexual health and the issues around human sexuality.

Sex isn’t just pornography and titillation, it’s a huge part of public health and as such the suppression of information, and the censoring of issues pertaining to vulnerable communities is utterly unacceptable.

And is this a war on sex? Or is it a war on the LGBTIQIA community and women??

Financial service providers like Square and PayPal are denying and shutting down accounts of female and queer entrepreneurs working in the sex industry including sex workers, film makers, erotic writers, and performers, citing excuses from credit card companies and banks not approving on NSFW content, to violations of terms of service.

But the buck doesn’t seem to stop with anyone, and business owners don’t seem to have a place to repeal the shutdowns, bans, and seizing of funds.

What is behind the push to suppress sexual conversation?

I question if this is due to political or religious pressure.

In my opinion conservative voices are losing their space in the political sphere, as the world is slowly electing more liberal and left leaning political leaders, so when lobbyists cannot lobby politicians, they need to hit businesses where it hurts them; their bottom lines.

Pressure to comply or face financial loss is a big deal. And while it’s disappointing, frustrating, and frankly, terrifying it’s almost expected.

So here’s my hopeful conclusion

The sex industry is a blooming, growth industry. 

Which obviously comes with both positives and negatives – as the industry grows, great conversations grow with it, and while I’ve been working at Polkadotsi, I’ve had the wonderful pleasure of reading and speaking with some of those incredible people having those conversations.

If we keep pushing foward and making sex work, sex creativity, and human sexuality a mainstream thing – I firmly believe it diminishes the spaces where crime and exploitation can occur. Knowledge is power, and knowledgeable consumers are empowered to make better choices.

It’s up to those of us working in this industry to create those spaces, have those conversations, and shine light on the wonderful things our colleagues are doing.

We can and do change the social standards around sex and sexuality, and we NEED to keep pushing forward.

How can you help?

  • Share the work of the amazing people in our industry.
  • Buy from our affiliate links.
  • Support us and subscribe to us.
  • Pay for your darned porn!

 

 

 

Education, Relationships

I Lost My Virginity to Rape

I lost my virginity** to non-consensual sex. It’s taken nearly 15 years to  call it rape.

It was summer, I was a teenager and I thought I was in love. He was charming, sweet, as sexually inexperienced as I was – and looking back; equally stupid. We had dated for a few hormone driven wonderful months and had at length teasingly discussed sex.

He had delightful, charming, disarming brown eyes and was forever telling me to be more self assured.

One February afternoon in the summer holidays we were making out and things were getting intense. As we fooled around and explored each other he rolled on top of me. At that point, I said no.

I told him I wasn’t ready. I was three months shy of my 16th birthday, and I actually wanted to wait until the age of consent. We had spoken about this at length, in several conversations, and he had verbally supported and encouraged my wishes.

He rolled off and we went back to making out, for a little bit. The next thing I knew, he was on top of me and penetrating me. I remember it hurting, and I remember wriggling away, putting a quick end to our steamy interlude.

He didn’t hold me down.

He didn’t mean to hurt me.

But he did rape me.

When Rape Isn’t Violent It’s Still Rape

After the fact he recognised what he did was wrong. He wrote a long and detailed letter explaining that he should have listened to me, that he should have respected me, and that he should have stopped when I said stop.

And he should have.

He wrote a long and detailed letter explaining that he should have listened to me, that he should have respected me, and that he should have stopped when I said stop.

And he should have.

As with most teenage romances, we broke up shortly after and both went on to see other people. I stashed the letter in a box with other letters from him, and hid it in the back of my wardrobe.

Slut Shaming and Naughty Boys

My mother “stumbled across” the letter (read, hunted it out and found it when she was rifling through my private things!) and proceeded to tell me that if I was going to have sex I shouldn’t lead boys along, that boys were driven by hormones and that essentially it was my fault that I was raped.

Because I wasn’t hurt, because I wasn’t beaten, or left bleeding and injured, it couldn’t possibly be rape – and I must have been a wiling participant in the entire sex act.

But I was hurt. A boy I put my trust in with my most intimate experiences exploited them and I learned as a naïve 15 year old that boys have all the power in a relationship.

I’ve spent the better part of 20 years taking that power back.

I’ve spent the better part of 20 years taking that power back.

From Bad to Worse

My next relationship re-enforced those learnings, and I was violently held down, my arms wrenched behind me, breath restricted and raped by my “boyfriend”.

Again, he was charming, and verbally respected my boundaries. He said all the right things. He was charming to my parents and friends.

Several times throughout our “relationship” I turned him down for sex, and he ignored my no’s and went ahead and fucked me anyway. On some occasions, I lay, passively waiting for him to do his thing. On others, I was forcibly engaged in the act.

Several times throughout our “relationship” I turned him down for sex, and he ignored my no’s and went ahead and fucked me anyway. On some occasions, I lay, passively waiting for him to do his thing. On others, I was forcibly engaged in the act.

Even today, nearly 20 years later I can’t talk about it without feeling scared,  triggered, and sick to the stomach.

He moved on with his life, unaffected by his actions, not accountable for them – and I’ve had to live with the trauma and damage for each day since.

Just because rape doesn’t leave a woman (or man) injured visibly does not make it less damaging. Rape is rape, and rape is wrong.

Rape Apologists and Social Pressure

One of my abusers was a naïve 16 year old boy, who had self entitlement issues, and meant no real harm in his actions. He was remorseful, and deeply apologetic – but he raped me, and society essentially permitted him to do it.

I sought help from my school psychologist, and police officer, and my situation was largely dismissed.

According to them, he was just a naughty boy who was overcome by his teenage hormones.

To which I say fuck that shit.

The only type of sex that is OK is enthusiastically consensual sex. *

The type of sex where both partners are enthusiastically into it and participating actively.

If you’re not sure – it isn’t enthusiastic.

 

*I wrote this article when I was beginning my career as a sex educator. My position on consent is a little more pragmatic and inclusive these days – largely to recognise that some sexual situations aren’t necessarily viewed as enthusiastically consensual (as in the case of sex work, or consensual-non-consent) but still require consent, respect, and safety.

Consent can be withdrawn, boundaries re-negotiated, and must always be respected, and purchasing the services of a sex worker does not give you the right their body. 

**I genuinely do not believe that virginity is anything of value, and I don’t believe you can lose it/misplace it/ or that it’s any indicator of my worth as a woman.

 

when sex isn't rainbows and unicorns
Education, Relationships, Sex Ed

When Sex Isn’t Rainbows and Unicorns.

Most of us have been sold a lie. Movies, romantic books, and even the social expectations of love and relationships mislead us greatly.

Boy meets girl, girl and boy fall in love, lots of orgasms, happily ever after, right?!

Apart from being particularly hetero-normative (sorry) and simplistic, it’s a pretty common story for what a lot of us are told is the love, sex, relationship model.

A generation of slut shaming, kink shaming, and the repression of healthy sexual education has left us ashamed, afraid, and unable to accept the darker side of our sexual proclivities and desires. Much less realise that love and sex are two different concepts that don’t necessarily co-exist in the same bedroom.

It’s left us unable to communicate our needs, and accept that sex is a normal part of human behaviour and our desires and pleasures come in a mixed bag.

And that mixed bag can look like hookups, relationships, casual dating, poly-amorous adventures, and any number or variations of the above.

So why is this romantic view so bad?

The challenge with a repressed and idealistic  view of sex and love is that so many of our desires and fantasies extend far beyond procuring marriage and producing offspring. Thank you very much, Jane Austen.

We humans are pleasure seeking creatures, and the denial and repression of our basal instincts can lead to shame, pain, and fear.

So let’s take a look at some of those Cinderella stories we got told, bust them wide open, and move forward to accept, and celebrate sex for what it is. Perfectly normal, occasionally mundane, and hopefully lots and lots of fun.

Busting some good sex bad sex myths

Sex and Love Go Hand in Hand

When I first started dating as a teen, I “saved” myself for a boy I fell in love with.  I was pretty devastated when that six month relationship came to an ugly and nasty close.  I’d had so closely related sex with my feelings of love and companionship, and while I’m not suggesting for a second that teens can’t experience love – I was really naive and had no idea how to make a longer term relationship work.

If I’d had the perspective of experiencing sex and relationships in the moment, and let myself be completely in the present, I probably would have had healthier expectations about how my partners behaved, felt, and responded to me.

As an adult in a poly relationship now, love and sex can still be pretty tightly coupled, but I also recognise you can have fantastic, amazing, earth shattering sex without love being involved.

If you think of sex and love as a Venn Diagram, you can see how sex and love are pretty loosely coupled. You can have sex without love. You can have love without sex, you can have sex and love.

There is no hard and fast rule on how how sex and love are coupled, and how that forms a relationship. All are valid definitions.

You can have sex and love that last for the term of the sexual encounter – you can have loving sexual relationships that last a lifetime. You can have loveless sexual relationships that last a lifetime. And sexless loving relationships that endure as well.

In terms of HAVING great sex, choosing to respect yourself and making choices that fill your needs, and respect your partner’s needs seems to be a healthy reasonable approach.

You don’t have to love your partners, and sex isn’t a transaction for love.

You don’t have to love your partners, and sex isn’t a transaction for love.

Sex should be sensual, soft, and kind. Kinks are bad mmkay?

As a young adult, I discovered that the bedroom can be a really interesting place to work out “stuff” It started with experimentation with a particularly enthusiastic partner who loved rougher sex, and was very, very into when I struggled and pushed back.

As someone who’d been raped, and someone who’d had really negative experiences with sex up until that point, it was really bizarre realising that I LIKED being restrained. I ENJOYED the hurt so good, painful experiences that consenting non-consent brought for me, and I really got off with rough sex.

It messed with my head. But it turns out that it’s pretty normal, and there are LOADS of people who engage in kinky sex.

Do you get off by getting hurt? Love that hurts so bad it’s good feeling?

Desire the feeling of power and control as you inflict pain on your partner?

Leather rings your bell and floats your boat?

Something else? Don’t worry. Your desires are pretty normal. The great thing about the internet these days, compared to what our parents had available to them is that if there’s a kink, there’s a forum/ sub-reddit/or facebook support group for it.

You and your kinks probably aren’t alone in the big wide world, and there are probably others out there who get off on the same interesting stuff you do.

Spend the time educating yourself on safe ways to indulge your desires – and always practise safe, sane, consensual sex.

Sex is always pleasurable…

Ahhhhhh if only sex WAS always pleasurable. The thing about human relationships no matter how long or short, they’re often fraught with imperfection.

And there is such a thing as unpleasurable sex.

That doesn’t mean that the relationship is bad, or that either or the people within it have failed in any way – it just is what it is sometimes.

Unpleasurable sex becomes more of an issue when the partners involved don’t talk about it, for reasons of shame, fear, embarrassment, not wanting to hurt the other person’s feelings or just not being aware of what they want or need.

Don’t fake orgasms. No-one benefits from that!

Don’t fake orgasms. No-one benefits from that!

I’m a huge advocate of knowing your own body, it’s turn ons, it’s turn offs and what gets you off REALLY well. And practising being able to communicate your desires, and show your partner how to get you off.

If you don’t communicate, nothing ever changes, and resentment, failed expectations, and anger can fester under the surface. Communicating your desires and feelings without your partner feeling inadequate can be a tricky territory – speak kindly, focus on the positives, and use “I” statements.  For example “I feel” “I love” etc.

Talk about it in the moment, address it as a debrief, and keep talking. You’ve got everything to gain here.

Good sex results in orgasm

Orgasms are amazing! I love orgasms, and I think we should all be having more orgasms! But sex doesn’t have to culminate in orgasm for it to be incredible.

Heck sex doesn’t even have to involved intercourse – but more on that in a second.

Great sex is about connection and pleasure with your partner (s) (or yourself) slow burning, sensual, loving touch, or rough, limit, pushing masochism don’t always peak with the big O.

That doesn’t mean it’s bad sex.
If you’re both fulfilled, feeling good, and happy with the outcome, that’s totally okay.

Communicate with your partner and find the things that are important to you.

A sexless relationship is a poor quality relationship

Relationships go in ebbs and flows. That early burning, euphoric, sex on tap part of any new relationship eventually runs it’s course, and it can be anything from 3 months to three years depending on you and your partner.

The trouble is that people expect that to be THE relationship.

Oh if only…

After the euphoria, there’s work. There are domestic duties, there are bills, there are illnesses, there are daggy underpants, and sweat pants that you would never parade around in a lover you’re trying to woo.

But there’s also intimacy, connection, friendship, and solidarity that builds as the bright flash subsides. Relationships take work, and sometimes sex is on the back burner.

As life happens, sex drives peak and flow. Children, stress, work, and medications can all impact on our sex drives-  and every individual is different.

Avoiding resentment with communication and really understanding what each other’s needs are is key to helping keep things moving on.

Of course there are other relationship models that you can consider like polyamory  and consensual non-monogamy

But intimacy is a myriad thing, and it doesn’t necessarily come from sex alone.

Cuddles, time spent together, touch, massage, and other acts of intimacy are valid and normal ways to keep connection with your partner.

Here’s to normal sex

Hopefully you’ll see what I did there, in that I think most sex is pretty normal. Obviously we want more of the good stuff and less of the bad.

By accepting reality and facing the fact that sex can be terribly mundane, delightfully pleasurable AND painful if we like it like that we can move past the myths and fables told to us in the movies.

Let’s talk about sex, let’s talk about the good and the bad, (I’m not singing I swear) and let’s talk about how we want it, how we don’t.

This is how we grow, this is how we feel better about our desires, and kinks, and the things that get us off.

Birth Stories, Education

Birth Stories: Welcome Earthside James Tiberius

James Tiberius from Fiona Rogerson on Vimeo.

JT’s pregnancy was straightforward and healthy – it was a bit of a journey for me, just in the basis that I’m used to connecting spiritually to my babies very early in pregnancy, yet little James and I never felt that connection while he was within me.

I spent the 9 months consciously acknowledging him, chatting with him, and connecting to him in every physical way I could – with the hopes that we might find some sort of spiritual connection – it never happened until tranisition 🙂

This pregnancy was another step for me to claim my power as a birthing woman. I had never gone into labour without some sort of assistance – my first son was induced – a hospital d-elivery – about as far from a birth as I could travel.

My second, home water birthed babe was gently encouraged with a stretch and sweep.

I knew I wasn’t broken, and was determined to prove it. Thursday evening, of the 19th of August, I had an overwhelming urge go go for a run. So, pregnant belly in hand, at about midnight, in all of my enormous glory I ran around our block. Then had a shower, and snuggled up in bed with my beautiful family.

I was awoken Friday morning at around about six with some familiar sensations – nice, strong, rushes. I turned over, trying to sleep, but was so excited that perhaps, just perhaps I HAD gone into labour all by myself.

Half an hour or so later, I snuck out of bed, hopped in the shower, and texted my three best friends to let them know today was the day, and to light their candles. I also called my gorgeous photographer friend Fee, so she could organise care for her little one.

The boys woke up, and life went on as usual in our house, with me plodding around in the loungeroom and leaning over my fitball when I needed it.

Then time for me stopped – I have no real idea of how long things took – Fee arrived, and bless her heart started playing with the boys and entertaining them. I had a shower, or two… insisted the pool got filled, and called my midwife.

Labour for the next however long was a little scary for me- it felt different to my previous labour, and I found I Couldn’t just settle into it. I knew if I went to the loo it would get bigger, but was so terrified of the sensations, I put it off for as long as I could.

Finally something twigged, I found my courage, went to the loo (yes it got bigger) and my waters broke, allowing James to finally move down.

Off the loo, into the loungeroom, the most powerful sensations I’ve ever felt. There was fear again, fear of the pain, then the realisation that holy cow, I needed to push. With the support of my gorgeous husband, and my beautiful midwife I clambered into the pool.

Time stood still, I gently birthed James‘ head- lent back, and his shoulders and body slid into his daddy’s waiting arms.

I did it… I went into labour alone.
I birthed my baby and caught him.

I spent a few days post birth being annoyed at myself for the fear I felt – but now in perspective, it’s all been part of my journey with James, and a new step in motherhood for me.

So this proud mama welcomes her delicious new son to the world (Yes he’s named after Kirk 😛 Yes, I could have chosen a better captain, but James stuck as we welcomed him earthside)

 

Education

27 Snuggly Self Care Rituals For Mums

Pin this to read later

 

I’m a mum of four little boys. My life is often filled with rough and tumble, penis jokes, farts, and various smells that I never would have considered human. Occasionally we have the help of an au pair, and my first instruction to them is their  role is to make sure the house doesn’t burn down. They ALWAYS think I’m joking until I show them where the fire extinguishers, fire blankets, and evacuation plans are kept.

four little boys. Life gets chaotic at times

Four little boys. Life gets chaotic at times.

We home educate, I run my own business and my husband is a busy software engineer. Life can be a bit chaotic at times.

I’m important. To me and to all of them.

In the early days, a lot was a blur. I flitted from day to day just hanging on to get through one to the next. Everything was about my children, their washing got done, they got bathed, they had new clothes bought for them, they had the bigger serves of food, and I heroically went without. As the boys have grown and I’ve grown with them I’ve realised the power of prioritising my own care as well as theirs.

I grabbed a couple of extra children for the sake of this photo. Cue, “Aunty Chloe”

You see, while I’m not the main financial contributor to our family, I’m the centre of it. I’m the middle of the night parent, the iron the shirts wife, the where are my socks mum/darling, the what’s for dinner, and have you seen my book, mum and wife. They’d be okay without me no doubt, but it would be a different life, and certainly not one that anyone is wishing for. I’m important. To me and to all of them.

Self care is a term that appears all the time in mummy blogs, and coaching sites and spiritual sites, and all it really means is prioritising your own care as being important. Because, like me; you are important too.

So here are some of my favourite super snuggly things that I like to do to prioritise my own self care (some of these are pretty odd, but once you have four boys, and you haven’t pooped on your own in years,  you’ll get it):

  1. Enjoy a HOT cup of tea, alone
  2. Take a bubble bath on my own
  3. Go to the bathroom with the door closed
  4. Wear headphones and listen to my favourite podcast or album uninterrupted
  5. Go for a walk
  6. Meditate
  7. Journal
  8. Write swear words in said journal
  9. Write said swear words in calligraphy in said journal
  10. Lie on the grass and just look at the clouds
  11. Wander through a garden
  12. Eat a delicious slice of my favourite cake and not share
  13. Have a hardcore sweaty session at the gym
  14. Paint something
  15. Play with messy, glooopy, clay
  16. Listen to a mindfulness app
  17. 10 deep breaths, uninterrupted
  18. Go for a run
  19. Pat the dog, and just “be”
  20. Cuddle up in bed with the kids and watch a movie
  21. Cuddle up in bed and watch a soppy girly, very chick flicky movie
  22. Catch a comedy show
  23. chat on the phone to a dear friend
  24. Make, then eat soup!
  25. Take photos (or indulge in whatever hobby is taking my fancy at the time) (sometimes I crochet)
  26. Sit and listen to the waves at the beach, or listen to the wind in the trees
  27. Wake up before dawn and watch the sunrise and enjoy the quiet before the house wakes up
  28. Have a pedicure/manicure
  29. Speak to my therapist

Being a mum is hard work. Sometimes it’s not even rewarding hard work – it’s just work. And on those days it’s more important than ever to take care of you.

Education

Birth Stories: The Arrival of Wee Finn

I have had four very different births, three of which have been at home with my very lovely midwife. This is the story of my fourth birth, which was by far my easiest most enjoyable birth, but my most challenging pregnancy.

We had decided firmly that three children was enough for us. We had three magnificent little boys, and a growing business to run. I had just got back into the swing of business when I had this overwhelming feeling that I was pregnant. I was actually at a networking meeting that morning, and couldn’t get the idea of pregnant out of my mind, so on the way home I stopped at our local shops and took a pregnancy test –thinking there was no way it could come up positive.

Sure enough, straight away two blue lines appeared on the test. I was incredibly shocked, excited, terrified, and overwhelmed all at once. My husband was under an incredibly amount of pressure at the time to provide for our family, and we were under a fair bit of financial strain. Having me out of my sales role in the business would make things incredibly tense.

Life had just been getting easier. The boys were finally sleeping through – how on earth could we deal with a pregnancy, much less the prospect of a tiny insomniac joining our house.

Needless to say, I was more than a little nervous about telling my husband our news.

I called my midwife Vanessa and asked if she was still catching babies, and was she busy in October…. I called my Chiropractor begging for advice to help me get through the first exhausting months of pregnancy and morning sickness, I called my friend who had just been through her fourth pregnancy and birth… then I called my husband.

Poor Adam thought I was joking, then when he realised I wasn’t, he went into shock. A shock that I think he has only just recovered from now that Finny is 6 months old.

The pregnancy was challenging. I had to redefine my role in our family as “just a mum” which was a big deal for me, as a lot of my mental wellbeing depended heavily on my role in our business. I love being in business, and it was really hard to step back.

I had awful SPD pain from about 16 weeks, and kept doing silly things like slipping on the kids toys and exacerbating the pain. Luckily, I was in the care of a wonderful Chiropractor who helped me manage the pain most of the time.

It challenged Adam’s and my relationship pushing it to boundaries I wasn’t sure we’d recover from.

It challenged my relationship with my three big boys, as I became larger, more tired, and less patient.

It forced me to swallow my pride and ask for help – something that I’ve never been comfortable with.

The pregnancy also helped me realise some amazing things about my family and myself. It introduced me to new friends who proved invaluable to me. It proved to me that my bond with my husband is stronger than I ever imagined it to be. It taught me to just “be” with my children, and accept that my mother-role is the most important role in their lives. It also taught me that I can overcome what I thought at the time were insurmountable challenges.

Under the care of Vanessa, my wee baby grew inside of me. Stretching my mind and body to new limits. There were some amazing highlights. Discovering that we were indeed having another little boy – and the joy that my husband expressed upon learning this. Feeling him roll and kick in my belly, as I connected and chatted to him. Being able to really tune into my baby, and build a relationship with him that was just secretly mine and his. His big brother’s reactions as they felt him kick and squirm in my belly. New love was gestated in our house over 10 long months.

The whole time, Vanessa was a solid rock of information, reassurance, comfort, and sometimes a friendly kick up the backside to trust my body and baby. She knows me so well.

As most mothers I know do, I expected this baby to arrive early. At 38 weeks gestation, I was ready to meet my belly-babe. Of course, this was far from the case, and weeks more passed and I became somewhat more impatient and fed up with my enormous body.

Having had two previous home births at the 42 week mark, it should have been abundantly clear that my body’s natural gestation time is about 42 weeks…. I hadn’t learnt!!!

I had two or three weeks of practise labour, which convinced me several times that it might be the real thing. Adam was working on an important project in town, and had organised time off around my due date. Unfortunately that came and went!

Vanessa spent much of the last week of my pregnancy sitting in my loungeroom or bedroom counselling me and listening to all of my fears and worries. I felt safe and supported, and re-assured just knowing that I could confide in her.

The last week of my pregnancy saw me desperate and begging for some encouragement to birth my baby. I was exhausted, in agony, and very much ‘over it’. Adam had a lot of work on and simply wasn’t able to be as available as I needed him to be, and I knew that I needed my baby on the outside in order to function and begin mothering effectively again. With that information, and my firm belief that a baby won’t come until it’s good and ready, I consented to some stretch and sweeps, to help encourage my body into labour.

Of course, babies don’t come until they’re good and ready, and Finny wasn’t good and ready until 42 weeks. It was a Tuesday, and I woke up feeling anxious, agitated, and rolled to Adam and said “I feel like a cat looking for a cupboard” I begged him to stay and work at home. I must have sounded desperate, because bless his heart he did.

Vanessa had come around in the morning, for my appointment, and had decided not to do a stretch and sweep, as Finny seemed in a funny position with his waters poking out, but no head engaged. I was frustrated, but somehow not overly concerned, as as I was sitting on the bed, my belly was gently contracting, gently encouraging Finn down, and gently preparing for labour.

Later that afternoon I decided to have a bath. As I hopped in the tub, I called to Adam “We’ll be meeting our baby tonight” I don’t think he believed me. As I soaked in the bath, my body began to squeeze tighter and tighter, encouraging wee Finny down. It was an intensely pleasurable sensation, and I knew I was finally going into labour.

I texted my beautiful Doula to let her know it would be tonight. I texted Vanessa to give her a little pre-emptive warning. I told Adam to trust me and organise my mum to look after my big boys.

I kissed my babies goodbye at about 6pm, and Adam dropped them off at my mum’s house. In the time he was gone, I organised my little birth altar, pinned flags on my curtains, lit candles, posted my affirmations on the wall, and had a shower. It couldn’t have been more than half an hour he had been gone, but as he returned, I went into labour.

I texted Vanessa and told her that things were happening, and that I was going to make it bigger. The sensations were strong but incredibly pleasurable. I welcomed each rush with vocalisation, and turned completely inward to focus on my baby.

Adam arrived home at some stage – I believed I had a perfectly coherent conversation with him, and asked him to inflate the pool, vaccum my bedroom, and fetch me stuff -apparently, it was more incoherent grunting. Luckily for me, Adam is incredibly in tune with me, and anticipated my needs and wants perfectly.

I was surrounded with love and support, and at no point did I feel alone.

My gorgeous doula arrived and began playing a crystal singing bowl along with each rush. This was the most amazing tool to help me focus. I could feel the vibrations in my belly, in the pool, in the ball I was sitting on…. I toned along with the bowl, and sung to my baby.

Finally the pool was filled enough for me to get in, but as I stepped in I snapped out of my labour trance to look at Adam, swear at him, and tell him that the pool was too “fucking” hot.

This should have told me I was nearing transition. The rushes were rolling one on top of another, but because they weren’t particularly painful – infact they were pleasurable, I thought I had many hours of labour ahead of me.

Suddenly, POP my waters broke! This woke me up, my doula came in, reassured me the pool water was clear, and Adam snuck away to call Vanessa.

The next contraction, I secretly pushed, and to my surprise, out popped a head. A tiny, soft, delicious, head, with a wisp of soft hair. I looked up at Adam and said “Heads out” he looked at me with utter surprise, as the next rush I grunted “Get ready to catch”

My wonderful husband caught our baby as he slid into the world, wearing a waist coat of membranes, pink, wailing, and perfect in every way.

I fell in love with my wonderful man all over again, seeing the pride, the relief, and the love in his eyes as he looked at his newest son. Adam snuck away to call Vanessa (who as on her way) and let her know that Finn had arrived and all was well.

I was chatting with my doula expressing my pride at having birthed a baby all on my own!! From strong contractions to Finny arriving, it was all an hour and a half.

Vanessa arrived, snuck in quietly, met our little man, and supported me as I birthed my placenta. This time it was easy, I knew how good it felt to push something soft out after birthing a baby, and my placenta slid out.

I was then tucked up into bed, brought cups of sweet hot tea, and made delicious food by Adam.

I began to bleed a little bit, and felt a bit dizzy and faint, but only enough for Vanessa to firmly ban me from undertaking my other favourite post birth ritual of having a shower 🙂

My mum brought my other babies home, and my eldest boy snuggled up in bed with Finn and I. Adam kept a watch over me throughout the night making sure I was safe and OK.

I spent the next few days in a cocoon of love and support. Vanessa and my student midwife came each day to check on me and Finn, Adam cared for the older boys while I rested in bed – it was incredibly hard to walk those first few days!!!

Finny let go of his placenta exactly five days after he was born, to the hour he was born. Our little son woke up, and we took him on his first tiny outing to the beach to welcome him to the world.

I could probably write an entire novel on this birth – but I think I’ve covered the bits that are most important to me.

We’re very stoked with our little man!!

Education, Fertility, Pregnancy & Birth

We Need To Talk About Prolapse

We need to talk about prolapse!

Sometimes the weakening of our pelvic floor during and after pregnancy  is enough to cause a prolapse, which is when the internal organs fall through the connective tissue of your pelvic floor. This can be a bladder prolapse, a rectal prolapse, a uterine prolapse, or an intestinal prolapse.

Prolapse can also be caused by menopause, pelvic surgery, pressure in the abdomen (like a bad bout of coughing) and even congenital weakness.

Symptoms of a prolapse include:

  • A dragging sensation or feeling that something is falling down, or feeling like something is falling out,
  • A heavy or aching vagina or pelvic region,
  • Lump or bulge in the vagina or vaginal entrance,
  • Stress incontinence, or feeling like you can’t quite empty your bladder,
  • Feeling like you can’t quite empty your bowel,
  • Dull backache,
  • Pain or a feeling of obstruction during sex

If you’re feeling a feeling of heaviness, or that your insides are coming outside – it’s essential to get your pelvis checked by your OBGYN and or a pelvic health physiotherapist. Prolapse isn’t a life sentence, and there is plenty that can be done to improve your symptoms.

Treatment For Prolapse

Treatment for your prolapse can include physical therapy, overseen by a pelvic health physiotherapist.

Your doctor might also recommend lifestyle changes, like a new approach to your fitness, perhaps weight loss. Women with prolapse need to exercise differently, and may find their symptoms improve if they reduce the pressure on the pelvic region.

Other treatments might include supporting the vaginal wall with a pessary, or surgery.

Some really useful websites for women are:

Women Health

The Continence Foundation

Better Health Victoria

Pregnancy Sex
Education, Fertility, Pregnancy & Birth, Sex Ed, Your Body

We Need To Talk About Sex During Pregnancy

Sex in the first trimester Is It Safe?

As a sexologist I’m very often asked about the safety of having sex during pregnancy – well here’s the good news – doing the nasty when you’ve got a bun in the oven is not only hot, it’s perfectly safe.  If you feel well and sexy – it’s a jolly good idea to have a roll in the hay.

Penetrative sex and orgasm during the first trimester are not linked to miscarriage or vaginal infections. Indeed, in a low risk, uncomplicated pregnancy getting juicy will actually reduce the risk of miscarriage and premature birth, by decreasing stress and enhancing emotional well being.

Often you and your partner(s) will worry that the baby will be harmed whilst you bump and grind – but don’t worry your unborn babe is well cushioned by the amniotic sac and the strong uterine muscles.  A penis (even one of porn star proportions – you lucky lady you!) or toy  will not penetrate deep enough to get past the muscles of the cervix, which is sealed up with a thick, mucous plug to keep out any nasties.

Changes to Your Mojo

However, it is important to be aware that during pregnancy there may be wide variations in you and your partner(s) sexual arousal, desire and response. For some pregnant women desire and intimacy may be affected in the first trimester by body image concerns, nausea, fatigue, urgency to urinate, anxiety and hormonal fluctuations.  For others these hormonal changes and lack of concerns about contraception can make them randier than a jack rabbit in a barrel full of jellied eels.

Follen Swanny and Tender Tits

There can be physiological changes that occur during pregnancy that may have you begging for more or closing the bedroom door. For instance, during pregnancy sex can cause genital engorgement (the classic Two Ronnies’ follen swanny), where you may experience heightened sensations that have you screaming YES!YES!YES! at the slightest touch of your sensitive clitoris or screaming NO!NO!NO! if anyone so much as breaths on it.  Not only can your clitoris become more sensitive, but so can your  breasts and nipples – and you partner(s) may tread a fine (and dangerous) line between  pleasure and pain.

Horny Hormones

Bonding, sexual pleasure and orgasm will also release hormones (prostaglandins and oxytocins) that can cause abdominal tightenings or hardenings of the uterus, which although perfectly normal can be a cause of concern for some. However, this is a perfectly normal response and these hormones can be both good for you and your baby – you’ll all be feeling the luuurvve.

Communicate, Communicate and Communicate

However, it’s very important  to listen to your body  – communicate and be open and honest with your partner(s) at this time. It may be that you control penetration and depth/vigour of thrusting or try new positions that are more comfortable, such as lying sideways, being positioned on the edge of the bed with your partner between your legs, spooning, sitting on their lap or being on top. Non-penetrative sex or ‘outercourse‘ may be more suitable or pleasurable at this time (foreplay, oral sex and masturbation). And don’t forget there are so many other ways to be intimate – ‘togetherness’ and mutual reassurance can be maintained through time spent together, cuddling, massage, a relaxing bath or shower, a shared walk, meal or movie night together.

You partner(s) va-va voom may also not be firing up for them during pregnancy if they are fearful of hurting you or the baby, worried about your health or that of the unborn’s, apprehensive about parenthood and its financial burdens or even self-conscious about getting down and dirty in the presence of the bump.  It’s just as important at this time for them to communicate their needs, desires and wants about intimacy.

Bans on Bonking

Obviously, there are times when doing the two-backed beast may not be recommended. Here are a few:

  • If your partner(s) has an active genital herpes lesion
  • If you have a low lying placenta or the placenta is partially/fully covering the cervix (placenta previa)
  • If you have a cervical dysfunction , weakness or it is opening prematurely
  • If you have a history of premature/pre-term labour
  • If you are experiencing unexplained vaginal bleeding
  • If you are experiencing moderate/ severe abdominal cramping
  • If you have a history of miscarriage and having sex would cause you distress or worry
  • If you are carrying multiple babies and have been advised against sex by your caregiver
  • If your waters (amniotic fluid) are leaking or have broken

 

Safer Sex – And Some Thoughts on Anal and Oral

Even when pregnant there are times when condoms/dental dams should still be used:

  • If your partner(s) have an STI (especially herpes)
  • If you are not in a mutually monogamous relationship
  • If you have a new partner and do not know their STI status
  • If you have a vaginal infection (e.g. thrush)Care should also be taken when engaging in oral sex in that there should be no blowing in the vagina during pregnancy (but seriously who does that?! – no judgement, but you may want to perfect your techniques).

There should also be an awareness of the attending risks that come with anal sex – just like at any other time a penis/toy/fingers should not be placed into the anus and then into the vagina as this may cause a vaginal infection. Also during pregnancy some women are prone to developing haemorrhoids, which can be painful, bleed or rupture during anal penetration- so you may want to abstain from engaging in ‘up the bum’ fun during this time.

 

 

Image credit: Mitrofan

Education, Personal Stories, Project Body Love, Your Body

Post Baby Body Positivity

My babies and pregnancy changed my body forever. Physically, spiritually, and oh did I mention physically?

I gained nearly 35kg in my first pregnancy. I felt enormous, I was enormous, and that was perfectly OK because it was a delightful, healthy pregnancy that produced a delightful healthy baby.

But once that baby was birthed, and in my arms I was so shocked to discover that I still sported a sizeable belly. (and cankles that were out of this world!)

Snap Back, Bounce Back To Your Pre-Baby Shape…

As a youngish mother I felt a lot of pressure to “snap back” to my pre pregnancy state – and as soon as I had the OK from my doctor, I started playing badminton and exercising as much as I could.

I had the voice of a very loved family member in my ear “I didn’t want to have a pot belly at 29, so I did 50 sit-ups a day”  and that pressure to not be the “fat mum” was overwhelming.

My body never snapped back though. It shrunk, but the marks of pregnancy remained…. a tiny abdominal separation that I wouldn’t become aware of for another 2 babies, and a squishy belly stay behind, to remind me of a belly that once held a 3kg baby.

My body never snapped back though.

Baby #2 - Toned, fit, healthy, even tanned!

#2 – Toned, fit, healthy, even tanned! and check out those stretch marks!

The next pregnancy I was determined not to gain as much weight, and I continued playing badminton (with my doctor’s OK) through the pregnancy. I was strong, healthy, fit, and toned. I had a glorious home birth, and my 4.5kg babe made his way into the world with ease.Baby

My body was now slightly more marked, slightly more squishy around the belly…. and the pressure to “snap back” a little further was still there.

Baby number 3 blessed us with an intense pregnancy, during which I was ill, and gained a fair bit of girth (this time I didn’t weigh myself) We faced some intense challenges during the pregnancy, and after a stressful gestation, I finally gave birth to a perfect little boy, who was all of 5kg….It took well over 10 months to get back to a pre-baby jeans size, but my body bore the marks of three pregnancies.

It took well over 10 months to get back to a pre-baby jeans size, but my body bore the marks of three pregnancies.

I went to see a woman who created handmade dresses, and she looked at my soft tummy and stretch marks and said “YOU ARE TOO YOUNG FOR THIS… YOU GAINED TOO MUCH WEIGHT” I took the dress that she created for me (that looked incredible I might add) and sobbed the whole way home.

My body was ruined.

My body was scarred.

I was fat.

I was worthless. I was hideous.

But…. I wasn’t…..

As I pulled into my drive at home I realised that the person with the issues was perhaps the dress maker. And that no matter what marks, and squishy bits and scars I bore – my body had achieved incredible things.

Baby 4 - zero foxes given

Baby 4 – zero foxes given

I found love, and I found positivity in the new curves, the softer belly and breasts, and I made a conscious effort to fall in love with my body all over again.

By the time baby number four quite literally fell into the world, I was SO in love with my body that I never weighed myself. I didn’t have pre-pregnancy jeans, I had delightful skirts that made me feel like a goddess.

I didn’t care that leggings weren’t pants, they made me feel GREAT, so I wore them.

I celebrated my body,  I gave myself time to heal afterwards. It honestly has taken nearly 4 years to rebuild strength, confidence, and continence (gasp) but taking that time and giving myself the space has been so worth it.

Now, I run, I lift, I rest and I truly care for my body.

Copy of read our blog

P.S.

I have this gorgeously supportive Facebook Group that I would love to join!

I wanted to invite you to join my free Facebook group called Polkadotsi Body Love. It’s all about helping women who struggle withloving their bodies and who want to wake up every day, look in the mirror and feel gorgeeous!

Polkadotsi is an incredibly fun and uplifting community where you can fall head over heels in love with your body!!

If this sounds like something you think you would benefit from, you can request access to join here: http://on.fb.me/1NYfrQy  I’ll be waiting there to welcome you to the sparkliest corner of the web!