Based in Cornwall, UK, Spewing Mummy is a blog by
Caitlin Dean.
Her posts explore the trials and tribulations of suffering with  Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) 
aka Extreme Pregnancy Sickness.

Sex and intimacy after HG

Sex and intimacy after HG

Okay well you know I'm not one to beat around the bush and it's recently come to light that this is a topic that needs rapid addressing for my audience! I conducted a quick survey on a “survivors” group on Facebook to get a gist of the key issues couples are facing in the bedroom post hyperemesis gravidarum to cover the subject in the book. Goodness me! I was almost in tears reading some of the problems women and their partners are facing.

As much as I would like to say wait to buy the book I feel there is a more urgent need for some of my HG friends to get support and help with this important aspect for their sanity and relationships.

Now I know sex isn't the be all and end all of relationships and I've talked before about partners sorting themselves outwhile their woman is suffering, but sex is important. Or rather intimacy is important. An intimate-less relationship is far more likely to start deteriorating and crumbling than one in which an active life in the bedroom is regularly enjoyed.

It's not uncommon for a couple's sex-life to decline somewhat after normal pregnancy and birth for a whole host of reasons. But fear of pregnancy and lack of confidence in contraception is totally understandable after a pregnancy which nearly killed you. However, fears and anxiety need to be dealt with, got in perspective and brought under control... otherwise they control you and can ruin your life (and that of your partner).

I'm no expert and I'm not a sex therapist or marriage guidance counsellor so over the next month or so I will try to track down someone who is to do a post with some “official” advice. But in the meantime I'm going to dole out some advice which I reckon surely must help and certianly can't do any harm...

First of all, TALK TO YOUR PARTNER!!! Get the kids to bed, open a bottle of wine, turn the goddamn TV off and talk... Don't book a babysitter and go out for a date-night to talk as you're likely to feel very self conscious in a restaurant or pub and it may get emotional so stay at home. Tell your partner what's worrying you and how you feel about it. A number of women said they “feel like a failure as a woman and a wife”. Tell your partner... I would bet money on the partners responding that they too have been feeling like that! If it would help then write down key points before hand.

Next MAKE A PLAN TOGETHER. This needs to be a team effort and needs to incorporate both of your needs within your comfort zones. There is a whole load of intimacy that you can engage in which won't result in pregnancy. Mutual masturbation, oral sex and plenty more which will make you feel closer as a couple and help you regain the closeness needed to go on to enjoy penetrative sex.

Your plan might include:

  • Going together to the doctor or practice nurse to discuss contraception you can feel confident in.

  • Agreeing to turn the TV off ever other night for two weeks and going to bed early to work on your sex life.

  • Kissing and cuddling more often.

  • Talking about sex openly with each other and talking about the anxiety and fears remaining from the pregnancy.

You could start with agreeing you won't have penetrative sex for a few weeks but focusing on pleasuring each other in lots of other ways. You could also look to build confidence in your body if you have issues around that – your partner clearly taking pleasure in your body is a pretty big boost generally. Women's bodies post baby are never the same as pre-baby but they aren't meant to be and mature men are naturally attracted to their partners bodies post-baby... you grew his offspring in there!

Maybe talk about fantasises and reminisce on pre-baby antics from your relationships early days. Play games, dress up, bath or shower together, get outside, wake each other up, HAVE FUN!

The purpose of all that is to build confidence and intimacy but ultimately if you are still very anxious about sex then book into see a counsellor, either on your own or as a couple. Ultimately, if you are careful with contraception so you can't get pregnant then your fear is bordering on irrational and is becoming a phobia... that needs addressing promptly so it doesn't get out of control. If that is the case then please GET HELP.

Finally I'd like to add that it's not always the women who are fearful of pregnancy and therefore nervous or anxious about sex, our men folk can be just as traumatised by hyperemesis gravidarum and scared that if their partner got pregnant again they would not be able to cope or that she might even die from it. They need as much support and understanding as if it were the other way around.

It's bad enough that hyperemesis gravidarum ruined your pregnancy and perhaps limited your family. Don't let it ruin your relationship or any more of your life.

Links for further help:

Relate offer marriage and sex counselling

My co-authored book, Hyperemesis Gravidarum – The Definitive Guide will have further information and support. It is due for release this Autumn.

Amazon offers a whole host of books about improving your sex life

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