It should be no surprise that doulas are making sexual health an important part of their work – sex does make babies, after all! Intimacy and body literacy are key pieces in the reproductive continuum, and at Mama Glow we believe in opening up conversations about sex that promote education, healing, pleasure, and empowerment. For Sexual Health Awareness Month, we asked Mama Glow doulas to think about the roles sex and intimacy play in their lives both personally and professionally.
Here’s what Bianca Crystal and Rebecca Clark had to say about their perspectives:
What have you learned about sexual health as an adult that you wish you were taught growing up?
BIANCA: Growing up the topic of sex and sexual health was not something that was openly discussed. However, as puberty approached, hormones heightened and the subject of boys arose without approval–I wish I learned to be comfortable about my changing body, that sex was a natural human urge and not be shamed for it as a maturing woman. Gaining and maintaining respect as a young woman was always taught to me as a teenager but it was in a way that made sex seem like it was dirty. I believe giving children/teenagers a general understanding of it and not demonizing it–may lead to an open dialogue of the parent/child having conversations with age-appropriate questions that they can learn answers to without risking find them out in the street.
REBECCA: As an adult I’ve learned how important it is to know my body anatomically and intimately. It’s important to know the correct names and terminology and to not only know them but USE them and not be embarrassed! As a child I was given nicknames for my vagina and alot of the females in my family were very prude when it came to talking about anything related to sex. My mother however was not to a degree which was very empowering. I do wish though I had someone who was a little older but still in touch to help me understand certain things like orgasms or exploring parts of my body like my clitoris and the feeling that it produces. Or even helping me understand that as a woman having sex it was just as much my right to experience pleasure as it was my partners.
What is the doula’s role in changing the way we talk about sex and intimacy?
BIANCA: As a doula, I believe it is important to remind the expectant parent of the correlation between sex(and maybe orgasms) with labor and delivery. As I often say, what gets the baby in your body will get the baby out of your body. I use the reference of when a person is trying to reach their sexual peak(orgasms) — how relaxed they are, how clear they are, how much they are in a zone. This can be transferrable to a birthing person during labor/contractions. One time, I’ve introduced a birthing couple with the idea of using a sex toy to simulate these sensations so the birthing parent can relax between contractions in attempts to bring baby earthside. Ive also reminded a couple of breast simulation and tongue kissing. Again referencing sexual arousal in relation to “getting baby out.”
REBECCA: I think as doulas it is beyond important for us to normalize and encourage talking about sex and intimacy freely especially for black and brown women who historically and culturally have been discourage when it comes to having sexual freedom.
What are some of your favorite self-love and intimacy practices?
BIANCA: Some of my favorite self-love and intimacy practices include aromatherapy (incense or oil diffuser), candlelit bath with crystals, bath salt. A 5 step skincare routine that includes an ice roller. On the days where I am feeling appreciative of my body after a shower or as strip down to my bare skin after a hard day of work, I may give myself gratitude by using my favorite personal massager while exploring a deeper level of my own climax as a pleasure myself via sexual meditation then enjoy a short nap to unwind.
REBECCA: I love masturbating. As I’ve grown and learned my body I realize no one knows and knows how to take care of my body like I do and I love that. It’s very powerful bringing yourself to an orgasm time and time again without any outside help.
What are some of your favorite intimacy and sexual health brands and products?
BIANCA: Bedroom Kandy; Turbo and Rockit. Nothing too heavy duty–not trying to replace the real thing! 🙂 Just enough to take the edge off.
REBECCA: I don’t think I’ve explored enough brands to have favorites yet. I do like the rabbit vibrator though and vibrators that focus specifically on clitoral stimulation.
How do you approach the topic of sex and intimacy with your postpartum clients when they express interest or have questions?
BIANCA: I like to wait until PP clients bring up the topic. I find that many people ( even though they may have carried a baby and had to have sex in order for the baby to her here ) may not be open of comfortable discussing sex and/or intimacy with just anyone. So I like to respect their privacy but once they open the door I am all (eyes and )ears to have an open conversation.
REBECCA: This is also something I’ve yet to experience but very much look forward to. I hopefully will be able to create an energy and space where my clients are comfortable asking and talking to me about ANYTHING.