Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby: Sex After Birth

So. You just did the equivalent of doing the splits over a box of dynamite and your lady parts are thrashed and you are sore and exhausted. Or, in the case of our C-section mamas, you have survived labour and literally had your insides on the outside to birth your baby, leaving you too sore and exhausted and unable to lift more than 5 lbs while you recover.

No matter how you had your sweet babe. You are an amazing badass.

Throw the trauma of birth on top of sleepless nights with a newborn paired with the anxiety of having the responsibility of keeping a tiny human alive, it's likely you are a barely functioning zombie or at least not feeling overly amorous and are fine with the doc’s orders to refrain from intercourse for 6 weeks.

No arguments here doc!

Fast Forward 6 or so weeks

Your doc finally gives you the go ahead to get back to normal (whatever that is) at your 6 week check up and you start panicking.

(side story – my aunt told my uncle that it was 6 months instead of 6 weeks)

You're always tired. Always covered in some substance secreted by your baby, and likely still in that weird in-between place of maternity clothes and your old clothes. Not feeling quite like your old self.

Before your spouse starts giving you bedroom eyes, you need to seriously consider your needs and your current feelings.

Having recently had a watermelon-sized being shoot out your nether region, can cause tearing. If you're still healing from that then the idea of sex can cause severe anxiety.

Questions you need to ask yourself:

Are YOU the one who wants this? Are you ready to jump back into the proverbial saddle with your partner?

Don't ever feel pressured to do something you’re not emotionally or physically ready for. That won't be fun for anyone.

Have that conversation with your partner. Be open and honest and just explain your feelings. Being intimate with one another can be more than just sexual.
These are 10 ways you can increase intimacy. This might be a good stepping stone to work up to actual intercourse.

Changes in your body since birth

Birth and exhaustion can lead to physical changes in how your body responds as well.

What might have come naturally before, may no longer. Even if you're feeling frisky, your body may take longer to respond and natural lubrication may not come as, well, naturally.

Actual time-lapse of my body drying up…

Hormones play a big role in postdelivery recovery and a return to normal sexual activity.

Common issues women face after birth

-Vaginal dryness (this can occur even in C-section mamas- thanks hormones)

-Pain

-Bleeding

-Tearing

-Fatigue

-Loss of or low libido

All these things, while uncomfortable, are completely normal and more importantly, treatable.

Say it with me ladies.

“In the days immediately following childbirth, estrogen drops to pre-pregnancy levels. If breastfeeding, estrogen levels might sink below pre-pregnancy levels. Estrogen helps supply natural vaginal lubrication, so low levels of the hormone increase the likelihood of vaginal dryness.” https://www.healthline.com

While common for those that had a vaginal birth, this can be the case for c-section mamas as well. These same hormonal issues can lead to dry and painful sex.

In this case a water soluble lubricant may be helpful. You’ll want to make sure to have some on hand should the time ever arise where you both find yourselves in the mood for sex.

Taking the Plunge

You’ve talked it over, you’ve carved out a couple minutes for yourselves and things are going to happen!

You’re probably still a bit anxious and trying to relax will really help.
Think about getting a pap. Those forceps aren't a fun experience but when you're tensed up and anxious those things are downright painful. Same idea here.

If you're worried about any discomfort take it super slow. It’s really helpful for you to take the reins so you can literally ease yourself into it and you’ll have more control over rhythm and speed.

If things get uncomfortable stop. Slow down. Try again if you have to. Theres no perfect first time experience.

You might have to try different positions until you find something that works for you both.

Expect it to take time. Expect to get interrupted by a crying baby at least once. Laugh with each other.

Find the humour in all of it.

Plan Ahead

With sex, always comes the potential for conceiving another baby.

If you’re not quite ready for that, then make sure to have condoms handy for when you and your partner are ready or talk to your doctor about a low hormone birth control. Even if you’re breastfeeding, you can still get pregnant.

Sex after children is like reverting back to your teenage years. You have to sneak around and be extra quiet and avoid getting pregnant.

You and your spouse trying to get frisky

Any discomfort can last for up to 3 months and typically decreases along the way. You know your body better than anyone. If anything feels wrong for any reason, talk to your doctor. If the pain is severe and prolonged, talk to your doctor.

There are numerous factors that contribute to painful sex and we can talk about those on the next post in this series.

How to Green your Bathroom

Hey y’all. It’s Jess again.

A few months ago, I gave you some quick tips on How to Green your Kitchen.

As I mentioned in my previous post, my family is on a journey to zero waste. We are not perfect but every bit counts. We have taken it slowly doing one room at a time.

This time we did the bathroom.

Photographer: Jan Antonin Kolar | Source: Unsplash

Below are some tips on how you can make your bathroom a little more eco-friendly to get you started.

  1. Bidet

This is by far my favorite change. If you have never tried a bidet, you are missing out. Thankfully, there are countless options! You can get a full fancy bidet from a hardware store like Home Depot. You can get a simple sprayer like many of us already have and use for diapers! There is also a happy medium that combines a little bit of fancy with a little bit of simple. There are nowhere near all the options available and they will save an incredible amount of toilet paper! Plus, you won’t have to stress out about looking for toilet paper.

  1. Cloth Wipes

Now, that lovely bidet I mentioned above will be amazing but not all of us love the feel of a wet tush. Enter, cloth wipes. You already use them for your kids so why not use them for yourself?

Once again, is there nothing these wipes or these can’t do? Bonus is: You won’t have to do much more laundry AND the bidet will leave you so clean that you will really just need these to dry off.

  1. Hyps Menstrual Pads

Ding Ding Ding! I know y’all have been waiting for these and they are amazing!! If you haven’t jumped on these but are considering them, check out this fantastic review.

We can’t promise that your periods will be fun but Lil Helper aims to make them a little happier.

  1. Drying your Body

There are so many everyday single-use bathroom products that we can change to more eco-friendly ones.

Here are just a few examples:

Cotton pads for Reusable ones like the Boofa.

Fun fact: These are AMAZING and can be used in so many different ways.

Towels are not single-use but doesn’t it feel like we are always needing new ones especially for babies who outgrow things ridiculously fast?

This is just a quick and shameless plug for the Lifesaver Mat! We foolishly donated all of our baby towels but one so instead of buying more we have used this wonderful mat super often to keep our sweet baby warm after the shower.

(not actual image of our baby haha although our dog does try to lay on it every single time she sees it out)

Tune in next time for another post on small, manageable changes you can make to be more “green” or eco-friendly in this series for your home!

What are some ways you have made your bathroom more green?

Hypatia Resuable Pads- An Honest Review

Now that Lil Helper has released their Hypatia pads it seem like it was time for an honest review about them.

What are Hypatia pads?

They are a reusable menstrual pad made up of absorbent layers of bamboo terry and a leak proof PUL layer. There is a stay dry material on the top that touches your goods. They snap in place around your underwear and you change them like you would a disposable. Just instead of throwing them in a garbage, you put them in a wet bag until laundry day!

Squeamish about washing blood? Weirded out by the used Hyps pads mixing it up with your laundry?
So was my mom when I explained them.

What do you mean you wash them??!

Truth is, anyone with a period is a pro at washing blood out of clothes and underwear so I don't see this as being much different. The environmental benefits alone were enough to make me try it! Never mind the irritation I get from using non-breathable disposables for a week. You don't get that with reusable pads!

Adult diaper rash is not pretty on the poor nether region.

How I need to walk by the end of my period

So, since having my second child my period has been wholly out of whack. What once was like clockwork and fairly easy to handle has become an ordeal. Major headaches and fatigue in the days leading up to it and I could spot for a full week before the floodgates release like Hoover Dam.
Or I could have super fun cramps and have a heavy flow for a week and then 2 weeks later have it come back again. There is no rhyme or reason to my period anymore. If my period tracker had chart it would resemble the most ridiculous of connect the dots.
Literally all over the place.

Me trying to track my period

So knowing that I’m never positive when my period will start anymore I started wearing a couple Hyps light in anticipation.

Period Day one

I start spotting. Nothing crazy but by wearing a Hyps pad regular (in anticipation for the inevitable explosion) I could avoid ruining yet another pair of underwear. Best part, the Hyps were super thin, and quite flexible and did not irritate at all!
There was some sliding of the pads as the day went on, so I will continue to experiment with the best way to counteract this.

Days 2 and 3

Continue on the same. Just spotting. It’s like my body can't make up its mind. Biding its time and lying in wait for me to drop my guard and assume its over, so it can come on full force and take me completely by surprise.

My period

Day 4

Release the kraken.

Ok. I won't go into details at how intense my period got at this point, but here's a mental image and you can use your imagination from there

There is no escape

So while I suffered through cramps (they finally came on with a vengeance) I walked around Costco and hoped that the Hyps would hold up. They did.
These pads are the quicker-picker-upper of period blood. I stayed dry. There was no leaking and they’re super thin so I didn't feel like I was walking around with an adult sized diaper.

How thin you ask? Well, I was wearing my tightest mom jeans there was no outline of pad bulk at all! Bonus!

Don't let the super thin profile of Hyps fool you. These things can absorb!

I started off wearing the regular Hyps, which were holding up just fine, but as things got crazy, I switched to the heavy Hyps. They’re longer (by 2 inches) and I felt better protected from all sides.

How did Hyps fare overnight?


Its recommended that you change your Hyps every 2-3 hours. I think that's pretty standard. You obviously can’t change that often during the night but my experience using them at night was nothing short of miraculous.

My little guy just started Kindergarten and admittedly its been an adjustment (Especially considering the last 7 months of no routine during the pandemic). So fast forward to this Monday where after a restless night I roll over and see that its 7:53am. My dude starts school at 8:30am! *Panic mode*

I rush through throwing together a lunch and getting him some breakfast. Got his bag packed and managed to get him to school on time, no one none the wiser. Its not until I get home and realize I have been wearing my Hyps since 9:30pm the night before (yes, I go to bed early).

Holy crap! I have been wearing my pad for approximately 10 and half hours! I expected it to be fully saturated and having leaked onto my underwear and pants but nothing! In fact, I venture a guess that it could have held more, and I promise, my flow was no mere trickle.

It’s recommended you have 3-5 pads a day for each day of your period depending on how often you do laundry. I only have 10. I washed them on the 3rd day. Simple wash routine. I wash with my diapers. No bleach or fabric softeners and you can hang to dry or throw them in the dryer on low-medium for about 20 minutes.

Troubleshooting Tips

1- Leaking

I thought I had the hang of them but by day 5 I leaked through one. Bummer. The reason being I thought the regular Hyps would be fine for me but the heavy was more appropriate. This isn't because the regular doesn't absorb- it does that just fine!

However the length of the heavy Hyps (13” VS 10”) is more effective in keeping me leak free.

L-R Heavy Hyps, long over night disposable, Regular Hyps, Hyps Liner

Either the shape of me or the nature of my movements causes most of my wetness to be nearer to the front than the back. Because of this, the longer Hyps gives me more protection up front, which was necessary and helped avoid and further leaking.

*Update* After many conversations about this I have learned that there is such a thing as ‘back bleeders’ and ‘front bleeders’. I personally am a front bleeder.
I had been wearing the longer narrow part upfront and was leaking. Once I turned the tag to the back and had the larger, more absorbent end up front, voila! Leak free.

So if you’re having an issue try turning it around!

2- Sliding around

Your pads might slide around. Theres no sticky back that adheres them to your underwear like disposables.

Things I found helpful: Wearing a cotton type underwear rather than satin-y underwear was helpful. Less sliding around that way. I also put on underwear that was more form fitting rather than looser fitting ones, as it helped keep everything in place better.

Also, due to the fact that my blood pools closer to the front than the back I found it necessary to pull the Hyps forward a bit once they were snapped in place. Snapping the last snap helped keep things tighter and lastly, if you find you’re still having any sliding issues, wearing leggings can be helpful too!

Lets be honest, leggings are a period go-to anyway! My jeans get pretty tight with menstrual time bloat, so this is a win/win!

3- Washing

I’m currently a cloth diapering mama so I just throw my pads in the wet bag along with the diapers that need to be washed.
Hyps come with a mesh laundry bag or you can purchase the gorgeous combo bag to keep them in!

Combo bag in Narwhals print
Photo cred- Katie P.

Once I no longer cloth diaper, I’ll keep them in a small wet bag until wash day and wash them with my regular laundry.

I am the proud mama of two littles and I guarantee, my used Hyps pads will be less gross than some of the stuff that ends up in their pockets after an outdoor adventure.

What I pull out is usually much grosser than sand

My overall experience with the Hyps reusable pads was super positive. I loved not having to use disposables which I’ve found have been causing me severe irritation and discomfort since I got my period back, plus it was nice knowing that I wasn't adding extra plastic and chemicals to the landfills.

Keeping in mind most people get a period cycle of 4-5 days, a considerable number of women have a period cycle of 5-7 days or even 8 days. Those suffering from PCOD & PCOS often encounter this kind of period cycle. Which again adds the number of pads used.

Taking an average of 5 days of the cycle and a change in every 4 hours, a person would require 5 pads a day (4 for the day + 1 for the night) making a total of 25 pads.

Think about how many pads you could save from the landfill!

Have you made the switch to reusable menstrual products? Have you tried reusable pads yet? What are your thoughts on the Hyps?

Want to try them yourself? Get them here!
https://www.lilhelperusa.com/product-category/menstrual/

DIY Garland Guide: Putting Things on Strings with Lil Helper

Remember on November 1st when Social Media had the appearance that every single person had pulled out their holiday decorations, went shopping at the local home goods store, and were already halfway through a bottle of eggnog and fully embracing the “tidings” and “good cheer”?

I applauded, commented, hit “like” and “heart” an innumerable number of times, and told myself “I’ll set up next weekend, this weekend we have a lot of laundry.”

Next weekend, we had to grocery shop. The weekend after, my little one was teething. Followed by vacuuming, another grocery trip, and then you wouldn’t believe how much laundry had piled up again!

Suddenly, “next” weekend was December 26. The point in the year had come when Christmas was this week. Our home had zero cheer. No sugar plums. There were no stockings hung with care. No burlap decor. Zero perfectly placed signs with holiday greetings. Not even a tree.

I found our box of Christmas decorations. A shoebox, smaller than I remembered. Opening it I found: A three-foot-long string of battery operated lights, four ornaments, and a nativity set.

This would be my husband and I’s first Christmas in our own apartment, and our daughter’s first Christmas ever. This was a decoration crisis. I turned to the only place I knew: Pinterest. However, I did not have time or patience for the typical DIY Fiasco. Perhaps you’ll recognize the routine:

DIY Fiasco:

1) Find stunning project labeled “DIY”
2) Spend $30 on materials
3) Start the project
4) Spend $25 on the fancy tool they are using
5) Try to learn how to use the tool
6) Ruin your project
7) Start over
8) Get interrupted by your toddler and forget what you’re supposed to do next
(repeat steps 6-8 until you’ve lost stamina or run out of materials)

I needed a DIY that was fully achievable. No fancy tools needed. Heck, I can’t even find a ruler and the only scissors I could locate were child-sized.

So, I decided to take matters into my own hands. And, as any good procrastinator should, I thought I would share my process thus enabling my fellow panicked parents.

So here is your official guide to last-minute holiday decor. The DIY Garland Guide: Putting Things on Strings, from your fellow procrastinators at Lil Helper.

Let’s walk through 3 types of materials that you might have on hand or can easily find. Cuz let’s face it “DIY garland” is just code for random stuff that you hang around your door frame and call it festive! If you’re looking for a project that takes no skill, no precision can be literally shoved off the table when your toddler demands a snack without any damage, you’ve come to the right place. Maybe you’ll look at your finished projects and say “meh, that will do”, but you won’t be pulling your hair out or walking out of a craft store with a $200 machine you’ll never use again. Besides, you need a good “meh” to say “meh-rry Christmas”.

Here is the step-by-step, or catch our video tutorial at the bottom of the page

FABRIC GARLAND

Fabric Garlands: Top- knotted fabric strips; Bottom- tied on fabric bows

Materials: Fabric, Twine
Optional: More twine, hot chocolate
Instructions: Cut fabric strips. Don’t try to make them straight or even, they won’t be. Let your kids practice their scissor skills. Cut up that table cloth that was ruined at thanksgiving and purchase solitary curtains from the thrift store. We all have some pent up anger, use it to rip an incredibly large number of fabric strips. Then, tie these strips of fabric around your twine. Repeat until you are out of fabric, out of hot cocoa, or out of patience.
Next Level: Can you tie shoes? If so, you’re ready for the professional upgrade to your DIY garland. Taking a smaller piece of twine, tie a fabric bow around it. Then, use the smaller piece of twine to attach your bow to your DIY garland. See that? You made that. Call it a farmhouse up-cycle and pat yourself on the back.

YARN GARLAND

diy garland yarn
Yarn Garlands: Top- tassels; Bottom- Pom-Pom’s

Materials: Yarn
Optional: a fork, tapestry needle, Hallmark movie
Instructions: Wrap yarn around your hand until it is pleasantly plump. Use having yarn around your hand as an excuse to not change the next dirty diaper. Slip the yarn from your hand and tie a quadruple knot about one-third of the way down. Cut the bottom and realize you made a freakin’ TASSLE. The word even sounds festive. You are a holiday hero. Cut an ambitiously long piece of yarn and slip your tassel onto the long strand. Repeat until the movie ends exactly as you expected it to.
Next Level: Grab a fork and wrap the yarn around the prongs, giving your fingers some sweet relief from being crushed. Tie your quadruple knot around the yarn puff by slipping a strand in between the prongs. Remove your puff from the fork and tie a second quadruple knot perpendicular to the first. Cut all the small loops and behold the beauty of a pom-pom. A bit more difficult to get on your string, you’ll have to call in the help of a tapestry needle, running a hefty dollar per pack at your local craft store. You can watch a video to learn this method of pom-pom making here.

PAPER GARLAND

diy garland paper
Paper Garland: Top- Chain; Bottom-Light Bulbs

Materials: Paper, Tape
Optional: Hole punch, twine, wine
Instructions: Cut paper strips. Preparing a piece of tape ahead of time, loop a paper strand into a ring. With another piece of tape on stand by, loop a second paper strand through the first. Repeat this tried and true method until your child is dragging it through the house while singing “Deck the Halls”. Drink wine and watch memories being made.
Next Level: Fold a paper strand in half and hole punch the open end. Take a small piece of paper and create a small tube, hole punching the bottom. Line up the holes on your paper strand and your tube, and push a piece of twine through the holes. Give the paper a little encouragement, and repeat to create string lights that won’t drive up your energy bill.

These are your simple and achievable decoration recommendations. Maybe your DIY garland won’t be the most stunning, but it definitely won’t be the most stressful. Instead, you’ll be free to set down your project and read a Christmas story. You can pick it back up when your child wants to help and set it aside when you realize it started to snow. Make pom-poms with your partner. Call your mother on zoom as your toddler painstakingly chooses what color should go next on the paper chain. Set aside some of the pressure to create the most astonishing DIY decor and embrace the memories that can be folded in a paper chain. Remember as these days leading up to Christmas look different than in years past, that you can still #FindFamily and make memories that last all the years to come, even if your decorations don’t.

Happy Crafting!

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