Becoming a mum is a wonderful and life-changing experience, but it is also exhausting and a time when you might start to feel distant from your partner. Sex Therapist Vanessa Tarfon understands the struggles women face with their sensuality, particularly after a life-changing event like becoming a mother. She launched Authentic Awarenesss to encourage women to create a deeper connection with themselves and their partner, educating them through courses, workshops, seminars and retreats, and making sex therapy and education accessible to all women. She is passionate about helping busy, tired mums to reignite the passion in their relationship and learn to love themselves again.
The passion: What inspired you to set up your business?
After having my first son in 2017, I had all these new mum friends and many were struggling to ignite their mojo and feelings of self-love and sensuality 6 months, one year, two years on. I realised that any discussion at the 6-week postpartum check-up revolved around contraception. This lack of conversation on sexual functioning or pleasure leaves many women wondering why they are suddenly experiencing pain, dryness or a complete lack of sexual interest, and many are too overwhelmed or tired at that time to ask the right questions, let alone feel entitled to think about their own bodies and enjoyment, as opposed to caring solely for a new baby and family. The fact that we even need to tell mums “you are entitled” to put yourself first and not feel guilty about it is testament to the need for change.
This was the moment I decided to help busy, tired mums to awaken their sensuality, empower them to have pleasure-focused discussions and to create deeper connections with themselves and a partner. I’ve always had an interest to learn more about and talk about sex openly. Having studied a Masters in HIV, STIs and Sexual Health, I realised I have the knowledge to share this information with other women. Sexual health is an important component of our overall health and it lives in a cone of silence, as a male-centred arena. I’m passionate about focusing on a holistic approach to female sexual health. I found a lot of inconsistent data and cultural and social misinformation. Even as a female with all this knowledge, I still had several ‘ahh ha’ moments. I spoke to friends who also had ‘ahh ha’ moments and I knew that something was wrong with what we are teaching (and not teaching) during sex education! Being pleasure-focused can generate mind-blowing changes for both partners in the relationship, build overall confidence and self-esteem, and empower positive role modelling in calm and happy homes.
The launch: How did you start out in the beginning?
Initially I wanted to conduct workshops with new mamas to teach them how to awaken their sensuality after having children. I did a lot of research and self-exploration and started creating the content and presentation of this. Then my beautiful second son made an entrance and I stopped work for a few months. By the time I had the time and effort to continue, Covid-19 appeared and threw all my plans out the window!
To be honest, this was the best thing that could have happened. I had to rethink my initial plans and decided to create an online course instead, which was a much better idea. It allows mums to progress at their own pace and also provide that extra level of comfort by completing it in privacy. I also had the time to develop a Sensuality Journal “Mojo Matters” to accompany the content, collaborate with brilliant companies to gift mamas a special goodie bag, and got Carla, Yoga Therapist, onboard from Yoga Realm to create some special enrichment practices that help in everyday life.
Authentic Awareness then officially launched in November 2020.
The innovation: What was the biggest breakthrough for you with your business?
I had two breakthroughs. The first and biggest breakthrough was probably when I was talking about sex with my new mum friends in 2017, and discovered that there was a niche service I could provide because not only had I lived it, but so many other women were struggling. It was this realisation that I had the knowledge and skills to get myself through it, and I felt an obligation to offer the same assistance to all mamas.
The second breakthrough was Covid-19 interrupting my initial plans and forcing me to consider alternative options. This was definitely a blessing because it now allows me to reach women globally, and although I was initially disappointed not being able to get mums out of their houses to truly focus on themselves for a while, the content and pace is actually much better suited to being completed at home.