Sex after birth: What if we no longer feel comfortable in our own bodies?

Hooray, a baby! How does it feel to be a mum now? Let’s discuss what few people talk about: Between postpartum, breastfeeding, nappies and sleepless nights, after a while it’s not so easy to feel like a woman and partner too.

Secretly, quietly, sex disappears from the relationship for many and the question is: How do we get it back? And what is the reason for this in the first place? Time and again, Dutch sexologist and anthropologist Mandy Ronda meets new mothers who tell her: “Since giving birth, I don’t feel attractive and therefore don’t feel comfortable with my partner naked. Is this normal? How can I feel sexy again?” We are therefore pleased that Mandy explains to us below how we can reconnect with our bodies and find closeness in our partnership .

“When it comes to how we feel in our skin after giving birth, there is no norm. Some feel especially good because they are amazed at how their body has borne and given birth to new life, others experience hardly any difference in their self-image. But mostly women have difficulties accepting their “new body” after birth.

Pregnancy, birth and postpartum change us on all levels. Our brain has been completely updated and a cocktail of hormones is also doing its job. Maybe you are suffering from diastasis, pelvic pain or something else? Also, chances are you’ve gained (well-deserved) tiger stripes and extra skin and fat reserves. Your body has done all it can to make room for your little one and allow it to grow optimally.

Birth is a great rite of passage, a ritual or initiation that marks the transition to something new. In this case, motherhood. Just as adolescence is the transition to adulthood, matrescence is the transition from woman to mother. There is no going back. You will be a mother forever.

So the whole idea of just turning back the clock or getting back into shape is absolute nonsense, because there is no going back. You probably don’t want to give your child back either, do you? (Okay, apart from those few moments in [toddler] adolescence that no one talks about). So why would you want to squeeze that body that worked so hard to create your mini-me into its old form? Holding onto that old version of yourself and comparing yourself to it inevitably leads to frustration.

That is why I want to appeal to you: Love the skin you are in. However, for many women this is not so easy. The positive trend of ‘loving your body after giving birth’ is very good, but can be just as overdone as the culture of “this is how you get your old body back.”

Sometimes a neutral view of your body is the perfect middle ground. So instead of honouring your body by ritually bathing it in rose petals while repeating mantras you don’t believe or feel yourself like “Oh, my dear body, how beautiful you are”, perhaps you could just accept and respect it for what it is?

Photo by Dmitriy Zub

Just approach it for once. Literally. Look in the mirror. What do you see? Can you describe your body without judgement? Being at peace with your own naked body again is an important step towards feeling OK naked with your partner again.

From this point you can expand your view of your body and there will be more space for intimacy and sexuality. This often benefits from a positive body image. A good first step could also be to be intimate with yourself again first, to awaken your own sensuality. This doesn’t have to be an hour-long Sex & the City session Samantha-style, but touching your postpartum body with attention and feeling what you’ve gained from giving birth can pave the way for intimacy with your partner.

Give yourself time. Do not rush. Nurture your intimacy, for example with kissing, cuddling, massaging each other from time to time, a compliment, a loving gesture, a good conversation. And make sure that you also open up emotionally to your partner.

Photo by Chermiti Mohamed on Unsplash

Ask yourself not how you can feel your old sexy self again, but what you need now, at this time of your life, as this version of yourself.

How different would our experience of womanhood and motherhood be if we were open to meeting ourselves again, full of wonder at all we have accomplished?”