Birth Trauma Awareness Week 2018

Birth Trauma Awareness Week starts today until July 8 2018.

I have a personal and professional commitment to helping people recognise and manage traumatic birth experiences having been through a traumatic birth.

I often ask my clients about their birthing experiences and have heard their surprise at being asked. A common response is ‘Well you just get on with it don’t you ..’ Partners say ‘Well she went through it, I just watched’. In reality the trauma of emergency intervention or seeing the person you love in peril and feeling powerless to help can stay with you and cause flashbacks, ongoing panic or depression.’

Just talking things through afterwards and in a safe space can be hugely helpful for men and women alike. It’s also worth considering ante natal counselling for future pregnancies.

The Birth Trauma Association says on its website: “Each year, up to 20,000 women and their birth partners go through a traumatic birth experience and suffer the often long-lasting impact this has on their physical and mental health, their ability to bond with their baby and their relationships with their family and friends.

Many women and their partners who have been through birth trauma are left feeling isolated, unable to share their experiences and talk openly about what has happened to them. “

Last year, Birth Trauma Awareness Week brought the subject of postnatal post-traumatic stress disorder out into the open and gained widespread media attention. The Association will be holding Twitter chats each evening from Monday July 2 to Friday July 6 on subjects relating to birth trauma as well as launching new videos of women talking powerfully about their traumatic births.

Other resurces

Unfold Your Wings . Hope, Support and awareness for Birth Trauma and Perinatal PTSD

Sands . We operate throughout the UK, supporting anyone affected by the death of a baby, working to improve the care bereaved parents receive, and promoting research to reduce the loss of babies’ lives.

Email Counselling

I’ve just completed a fascinating course in using digital technologies in counselling and therapy.

Some of it was a refresher as I’ve been offering telephone and webcam appointments for some time, but it’s always nice to take a full day to work with new and existing colleagues on our clinical practice. There were Relate counsellors in our group from as far south as Devon. Luckily I didn’t have to travel as far.

I’m excited about reaching people who can’t schedule appointments at specific times by offering email counselling. I’ve been thinking about this for a while and now I have some practice under my belt this way of working is available to all my clients.

People who can really benefit from this way of accessing support are those like new parents, carers, people who work away, or maybe those who just don’t feel comfortable speaking with someone for any reason.

There’s a £55 charge for each email you write, and I spend an hour reading and responding to your email. I guarantee that you will receive a reply within 3 working days.

Get in touch if you would like more information.

The Wonder Down Under

I’m always keen to share books and other resources that are useful to people and having read The Wonder Down Under I’m mentioning it to friends, colleagues and clients who I’m sure will all find it useful.

The book, published in 2018, is written by two Norwegian medical students and sex educators who aim to ‘bring genital elightenment to the masses’. So far so good, but in practice I find books about sex tend to be quite dry (take it from someone who’s waded through Schnarch and a lot of Masters and Johnson research, I know, I’m weird!)

This one is written very much with the reader in mind, sentences are punchy and the tone is conversational. There’s no judgement, instead a lot of practical advice and information about what a healthy body and sex life looks like and how to keep it that way.

Books about sex and our bodies do tend to date very quickly as our understanding develops, for example I’d never read anything more than 5 years old about sexually transmitted infections (STIs) as the information is very likely to have been overtaken by more up to date research. This book includes up to date information about STIs which is great but once it’s aged a bit I’d recommend reading it in conjunction with a bit of research.

I’d recommend this book to parents of teens of both genders, all educators of children, counsellors, women and the people who love them.

Are you due a Relationship MOT?

I like the idea of harnessing routine in a relationship, the power of making small regular deposits into the relationship ‘bank account’ that over time serve to build a strong foundation: when I say goodbye to my clients at a final session I often suggest they choose a future date in their diary to review what progress they’ve made and stay aware of any small issues that threaten to grow.

So making a yearly date to sit down  to look at your relationship makes sense: often we’re so caught up with work, kids, family, friends that focussing on where our relationship is just doesn’t get a look in. Looking back on an average year for me I could assure you that enough will have happened that’s been completely out of my control that a bit of time out to thrash things out and make sense of things with my partner is usually long overdue.

If you’re single you could do this with a good friend, and return the favour, or of course make use of an experienced and qualified relationship counsellor (try www.counselling-directory.org.uk “.. a comprehensive database of UK counsellors and psychotherapists, with information on their training and experience, fees and contact details.”)

Some questions to ask might be:

What’s important to me in this relationship?

Is this being honoured at present?

Am I being the person I want to be currently in this relationship? If not, why?

If I am, what could I do more of?

What would my partner like less / more of?

Can we talk openly and honestly, even when the subject is sensitive?

How is our sex life?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the idea of a relationship MOT .. message me below or get in touch on Twitter or email me.

If You Want Great Sex with a Woman Read This!

zoey-kneesAs a relationship coach and counsellor I think about sex A LOT. I talk about sex all the time with my clients, my colleagues and also (excruciatingly for some) with random people in my life.

Research shows that couples who are constantly exploring ways to make sex more pleasurable are five times more likely to be happier in their relationship and 12 times
more likely to be sexually satisfied.

I can’t speak for my generation but my sex education in the 1980s was poor: what little information there was came with a large side of shame, and (no wonder) by Year 11 I heard reports of girls being sexually assaulted and girls disappearing from class due to teen pregnancies.

So my sexual education came from family, my sexual partners, peers, books and magazines, as well as A LOT of studying academic research papers since I became a relationship therapist. BTW if you fancy a bit of light relief or a cheeky gift for a loved one I’d recommend Bonk, by Mary Roach, a hilarious look at how awful a lot of sex research has been.

And I read about and saw the ‘pornification’ of culture and I worried about how our kids, with no coherent national sex education strategy, are learning about sex from porn. Girls and boys are being told sex isn’t about mutual communication and trust, but about male pleasure, thrusting and violence. And both sexes are suffering. In my practice I speak with couples where ‘normal’ sex means 5 minutes with the lights off, and with young couples where use of porn from an early age has caused premature ejaculation or porn addiction.

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And then along came OMGYES, a sexual pleasure research website. After hearing about the site I was dying to have a good look and I was lucky enough to be offered a preview.

The team behind the site carried out research with more than 2,000 women, aged 18-95, and created a website where real-life women – not actors – share their stories and demonstrate their techniques. Then, users get the chance to practice through touchable simulations.

Because .. different strokes suit different folks ..

The topic has been so taboo that even scientists hadn’t studied the specific, various ways of touching that feel good for different women. I can actually vouch for how taboo because none of the four people I asked to anonymously comment on the website for this article felt comfortable doing so .. just wow!

SeasonOne

OMGYES is for women and the people who love them (approximately 50% of users are female/male). Women can use the site to explore more ways to touch themselves and guide their partners, while partners are adding new, research-based tools to their toolbox.

Fifty videos are organised in 12 sections (pictured above) and for a one off payment you can access the site as often as you like, watching videos in any order and at your own pace. The site also uses tech to the max, with touchable demos where users can practise what they’ve learned (useful if you don’t have a vulva guys!). I found the site ran a bit slow on my (very old) tablet, but on the laptop it was fine.

I was expection the site to be purely about technique, and it was a pleasant surprise to find sections on ‘Framing‘ and ‘Signalling‘ .. those hugely important bits of sex that happen in our brains and come out of our mouths.

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I’ve been recommending this site to clients and colleagues, in fact I might have become a bit of an OMGYes bore, but beauties like this don’t come along every day. I’d recommend it for single women as well as women in a relationship, and when the time comes I’ll be recommending it to my daughter as part of an ongoing conversation about what she should expect from sexual maturity.

To learn more, visit the website at omgyes or follow them on Facebook and Twitter. And tell me what you thought of OMGYes .. email me or contact me through the website.

So .. When Should I Have Sex?

“Making love” is based on the feminine principle of a relationship; the relationship is built on friendship and expressed through sex. “Getting laid” is based on the masculine principle of sharing sexual gratification with a friendly partner.”

– Dr. Patricia Allen

How to have the BEST SEX of your life

Sex. A topic that humans have been interested in since  the beginning of time. Something that happens each and every day.

And yet there is so much confusion about sex. Who to have sex with, when to have sex, am I getting enough sex? And if you get this right the answers will lead to the best sex of your life.

You deserve to have a soulmate whom you love and who loves you. A relationship with passion, and where there’s a real connection.

Oxytocin addict

Oxytocin is a hormone that is released by the pituitary gland when women make love which encourages you to bond to your partner. Oxytocin also helps you relax, reduce blood pressure and lower cortisol levels.

So far so good .. but if you’re tempted to take this shortcut before you’re sure that your partner is worthy of your trust, beware the consequences of feeling bonded to the wrong person, it can literally feel like being addicted! And the pain of splitting up after bonding with the wrong person is horrendous.

Protect yourself from unnecessary pain

Don’t forget, you don’t need sex to stimulate oxytocin. Actions that convey emotional messages of kindness, caring and love also help to release the oxytocin hormone and make you feel good. John Gray writes at length about how women can take responsibility for their own oxytocin levels and avoid feeling the temptation to sleep with someone just to get a quick ‘fix’

How to tell it’s time for the best sex of your life

Great sex is about connection at a deep level with someone who shares your values and cherishes you as a human being. In order to find out if this is the right person to take this step with you can ask yourself the following questions:

What are my fundamental values – what qualities am I looking for in a relationship and a potential life partner? What 5 qualities are absolutely non-negotiable and what am I willing to overlook if these are present?

How long have I known this person? Do I really know and accept them – their good and not so good qualities, their values and foibles?

Can we have honest conversations about making love – past experiences, what we know we like, what we know we don’t like, our sexual aspirations in this relationship, our sexual health?

Do I trust them – have I experienced them being truthful, willing to be vulnerable and taking responsibility in this relationship?

Will making love with this person nourish and sustain me over time, not just for tonight?

Am I truly ready to take this step?

Here is the key to your happiness

We all have different values and opinions when it comes to when is the right time to make love – some people feel this is only after marriage, some feel otherwise. The danger of waiting until after marriage is that people sometimes make the mistake of getting married so they can have sex and become ‘grown up’, when actually this behaviour betrays their immaturity.

The only guide I can give to save you heartache is to take as much time as you need to look within yourself and ask the questions above. To be honest with your partner about what you are doing and to hear their response with acceptance and understanding.

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I love to get your feedback and would be delighted to hear your views on sex and when the right time is for you .. get in touch using the Comments box below or have a look at my Contact details.