Sexual Health Awareness and Postpartum Romance

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In honor of Sexual Health Awareness Week, I wanted to share my regular momperspective on postpartum romance. Im not an expert in sex, sexuality, relationships, or anything else, and I still have my struggles with body image, intimacy, and general patience with my husband. I cant tie this topic up neatly in a bow for you, but I hope that you will be encouraged as you’re reminded that none of us are alone in our complex feelings about our postpartum bodies and our love lives. Ultimately, I hope youll look in the mirror and find yourself singing along with my friend (I wish) Lizzo:
 
 
 
 
 

Before kids, I was comfortable in my skin. My husband thought I was beautiful, and frankly, I agreed. Its easy to enjoy intimacy when you feel beautiful. Now, my husband still tells me Im beautiful, and many days, well, I think hes a liar. Its harder to hop in bed with enthusiasm when Im completely exhausted, touched out, and my body feels both stretched out and deflated.
 
 
 
My body will never be the same. No amount of weight loss programs can bring back my old body — shes gone, regardless of the number on the scale. So, how do I move forward?
 
 

I am on a journey not to change my body, although society might tell me that I can and should bounce back,but to love my body exactly as she stands today. I do not want to love my body because it is beautiful; I want to see it as beautiful because I love it, and move forward with my relationship with myself and my husband from that place of love.
 
 
 
I feel very strongly that you cannot, through hating your body, turn it into something lovable. If you hate your body, you will not suddenly love it if you lose 20 pounds or get breast implants or Botox or hair extensions or whatever it is you feel you “need.” Like a hamster on a wheel, you will keep chasing an elusive beauty ideal.
 
 
 
Loving your body as it is doesnt mean you wont nourish and care for it well. It doesnt mean shrugging your shoulders and eating another large cheese pizza while deleting your facialists number. It does mean you will love yourself whether youre eating kale or takeout, whether you didnt take the time to wash your hair (with postpartum hair loss, who even cares about clean hair!) or whether you splurged on full foil highlights.
 
 
 
a man and a woman on a blanket in a wooded setting, laughing together
 
 

I am slowly warming to the concept that my body changed (dramatically) to bring children into this world, and my husband was fully unaffected. Both pregnant and postpartum, my body was almost unrecognizable to me. My husband? Peacefully sitting on the couch with his Same Old Body.

 


After having my second child, I finally tired of the narrative that pregnancy and childbirth, and all the associated body changes, are a vulnerability or negative aspect of the female experience. Human beings are future-oriented beings. Throughout our lives, we are
always planning, hoping, evolving. Were not meant to be stuck at 21 emotionally, nor are we meant to be stuck at 21 physically. My body has progressed to a new stage — mother — that fits my reality. Im embracing change because change is at the core of the human experience.

 


The final thing I want to impart on you (and Im telling this to myself, too) is that its not so serious. I dont mean to diminish body trauma or physical pain in intimacy, and if that is a part of your story you deserve to seek out and engage professional healing. But once youre ready for it, sex should be fun. We can place so much weight and importance on sex — it has to be perfect, we have to be perfect, the state of our sex life says something about the health of our marriage and many other narratives. It doesnt need to be that serious! We can bring back laughter. We can remember every time we hit the sheets doesnt have to be the best time. We can remember were all just human. We’re both beautiful and flawed, we’re both fun and tired, and most of all, we are worthy of love and joy.

 

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