Hi! I’m Brianna Carey, a Postpartum Relationship & Intimacy Coach.
I’m also a wife, a mom of two, a dog mom (my first baby) and we have a bearded dragon.
I sat down to write my first blog post about how women (generally speaking) tend to lose interest in intimacy especially after having kiddos. As I began writing I had the thought that it would probably make more sense for me to make my first blog post more of an introduction and to share my story with you first.
In 2008, I began my journey when I was still in college. I was majoring in Elementary Education; I have always known I wanted to be a teacher, I LOVE helping others. What I didn’t know is that what form of educating would be doing would evolve over the next 15 years.
I was invited to attend a party—Girl’s Night—I thought it was just hanging out, drinking wine and having some yummy snacks. Well, there was more. A lot more!
This woman I didn’t know, walked up to the front of the room and started introducing herself. As she began talking she was pulling products out of her “Mary Poppins” bag—one item after another, I swear my eyes were bulging out of my head!
I had never seen or heard of any of these products before; she was a Passion Parties consultant and was showing us spicy adult products!
Oh, I forgot to mention, this girls’ night was a mom & daughter party! Yes, my first sex toy party was with my mom, her friends and us daughters. Y’all, let me tell you when I say I was mortified! But I was equally so intrigued!
I learned things about my body I never learned in school. I was jaw dropped and angry that women are not taught more about their sexuality and how to explore their pleasure. My brain went into instant “teacher mode”.
I decided that I was going to become a consultant so that I could help spread this much needed information to other women—especially female students on campus. I wanted to help them better understand their bodies; to feel confident in exploring their sensuality, to feel confident in expressing their desires and communicating them to future partners.
And most importantly, I wanted to help more young women to
be safe when it came to sex.
That party experience was the catalyst to my 15 year career as a sexual health educator. I have attended many educational conferences & trainings; I have learned from the top Sex Therapists & Researchers. I have acquired multiple certificates & accolades and I have worked with thousands of women. To say I am passionate about sexual health education would be an understatement.
Shifts in my career began when my husband, Mark (my college sweetheart), and I had our first baby in September 2015. I still remember going to my 6 week postpartum appointment and my midwife telling me “Everything looks good! You’re safe to resume all normal activities.“
I was a bit confused, but this was my first baby so I took her word for it, even though nothing about me felt "normal". I had a second degree labial tear during birth, which required 3 stitches, that was now “healed”, so everything must be fine.
I joke that the only date guys actually remember is that 6 week postpartum appointment because they’re waiting to see if you got the “all clear”, to get back to sexy time.
I wasn’t ready just yet, so we waited another 2 weeks to attempt to have sex.
I was not prepared.
It was the most excruciating pain—and I gave birth without an epidural and got 3 stitches without medication! I’m not at all saying that to brag, but to give a very clear understanding that when my husband inserted and what I felt was beyond any pain I could comprehend.
We gave it a couple more weeks, then tried again. Didn’t work.
We waited a couple more weeks, and again I could’t handle it. Around 4 months postpartum I made another appointment with my midwife because there HAD to be an explanation for this pain.
She did the exam and proceeded to tell me everything was healed and looks normal. Then her suggestion to me, "try having a couple glasses of wine to help you relax and use lots of lubrication.” My jaw dropped! I was furious! I could not believe that was the advice a medical professional was suggesting.
I went home and sobbed. I felt broken. I felt alone.
I’m very grateful my husband was patient and supportive. I’m grateful that I had my sexual health education to lean on. I sold lubricant for a living, trust me I was using lube, LOL.
But I knew there was more to it. I began researching, a lot! I knew that I was not the only one experiencing this and I was going to find answers…but, there were no answers, not specifically.
I did find that pain with intercourse was fairly common.
As many as 75% of women experience pain with sex at some point, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Women can experience pain with sex for a multitude of reasons, not just after having a baby. I learned that what I was experiencing was called Vaginismus, the involuntary spasms of the vaginal muscles.
This condition affects 1 in 5 women and can also be the cause for:
Difficulty with inserting tampons
Difficulty with vaginal penetration during sex
Burning or stinging pain during sex
I had concluded that my body was now perceiving any sort of touch & penetration as a “danger” since the last time anything had been in my vagina was a somewhat traumatic experience. Simply put, my body was protecting itself.
Okay, now I was getting somewhere! But how do I reverse this so I can enjoy being intimate with my husband again?
I think we do moms and couples a great disservice by not talking about HOW to navigate getting back to intimacy after having a baby. Logically we KNOW things will be different. But in reality it’s not something you could even imagine, because there are so many different dynamics you’re adjusting to.
What I’ve come to find over the years is when women go to their 6 week appointment, they think they ‘need’ to have sex with their partner or they begin to feel guilty if they don’t.
They start internalizing that something is wrong with them if they don’t want to have sex and they definitely don’t know how to fully communicate to their partner why they don’t feel like having sex. It starts to become a sore subject and a point of disconnect within the relationship.
The momma is feeling guilty, and their partner starts feeling unwanted/unloved/unattractive. When in reality none of this is true.
Purely from a biological stand point a mom’s sexual desire does not come back for a good time after having a baby because her sole purpose (again, biologically) is to care and provide for that new baby.
It takes up to a full year for a woman’s body to recover after birth.
Getting pregnant during that timeframe can cause risks for the mom &/or the new baby, so the body does not “desire” to have sex. That is how our bodies are wired.
But again, this information is not talked about, so women begin to think that there is something "wrong" with them, when in reality their body is doing exactly what she is meant to.
There are also the fluctuations in hormone levels and if you’re breastfeeding the drop in estrogen significantly impacts the libido and vaginal lubrication. It’s very important that once resuming sexual activity, you use a really good lubricant to protect the vaginal tissues (I’ll write another blog on the health benefits of lubricant and the women’s arousal cycle).
All in all, it took till around 8 months postpartum for me to feel somewhat comfortable having sex and over a year for it to feel "normal" and enjoyable again.
I did a lot of research, a lot of trial & error and was able to create a practice of easing back into intimacy that helped tremendously after having my second baby. I’ve shared it with other women I’ve worked with and I will now share that with you!
Stay tuned, the next blog post will be my step by step guide of how to do just that!
As I was navigating my own journey through postpartum healing, I realized this is an area that so many new parents struggle with and there is practically no information around this specifically.
In 2021, I decided to shift my career a bit and become a coach. I completed my Sex Coach certification in 2022, through Sex & Love Co with my mentor Alexa Bowditch (@thatsexchick). Like I said at the beginning, I LOVE helping others. My passion is educating, that is truly my purpose in this lifetime
Thus, Intimacy Evolution was born.
Now I am supporting couples during this new phase of their relationship--postpartum intimacy. I get to help couples reconnect after having a baby. I help them learn how to create deeper connection, stronger communication & explore how to enjoy more fulfilling intimacy.
Oh! The coolest part I almost forgot to share-- I get to do this along side my husband, Mark! He is a Licensed Professional Counselor and has been running his own private practice for the past 7 years.
The other area we see lacking during this phase is support for the DADS!
So we support the whole couple, not just one or the other (yes, we offer 1:1 coaching/support as well), but really the magic is in doing this work together.
We also have a podcast, Intimacy Evolution, where we share our own experiences navigating intimacy, parenting etc. We also interview a variety of professionals to bring different perspectives and information to our listeners.
I'm so excited to share more with you! If you have specific questions about sex, love, relationships, parenting, postpartum, etc. please feel free to email me or connect with my over on Instagram!
Remember, our relationships evolve overtime, and that’s okay.
Let’s talk about it.