After having a second baby this year, the weight didn’t come off like it did the first time and I was embarrassed to have sex with my boyfriend.
The funny thing is, I’ve always promoted body positivity and preached, both through writing and conversations with friends, about feeling comfortable in our own skin, no matter what.
So when these feelings came along post-pregnancy, I felt ashamed. Was I a fraud for trying to empower others when really I didn’t feel empowered myself? I began to think, maybe because I was always considered “thin” by society’s standards, I never actually had that specific insecurity to cope with.
When I went to my 6-week postpartum check up with my doctor, I was half wishing she wouldn’t clear me for sex so I didn’t have to reveal my new body too much. Not a chance.
Finally, I voiced these feelings with my boyfriend after he could tell I wasn’t completely comfortable being naked with him.
He told me all of the things that I had said to others before: I didn’t fall in love with your body; you just had a baby; you’re always beautiful to me and so on. But still, most of the time we were intimate, the lights were off and my shirt stayed on.
This mindset made me think about sexual encounters in the past. I had been insecure before and it had nothing to do with my body size. I knew I had to dig deeper and figure out where this sudden negativity was coming from. Because I had felt this way with other partners in the past, I knew it wasn’t just post-baby blues that had me down.
“As women we tend to take care of everybody else until we’re ready to drop,” said Doctor Stephanie Faubion of the Mayo Clinic. She went on to reference the oxygen mask bit airplane passengers hear at take-off. You know the one: help yourself before you help your kids or fellow travelers.
Turns out, what was messing with my sex drive was not extra pounds but the feeling that I wasn’t being true to myself.
You see, as a freelance writer, I create all of my work. Every day is a hustle, but it’s a hustle that makes me feel fulfilled because I’m carrying out a lifelong dream. Having a new baby did not allow for me to spread my time like I had been. There was no balance. I hate to say it, but I felt like “just a Mom.” This feeling made my confidence spiral out. I felt like I didn’t have much to offer to my boyfriend.
“We can’t expect our sex life to be on track if we aren’t eating right, sleeping enough or being intellectually stimulated,” Faubion said.
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Thankfully, my boyfriend and I opened the lines of communication on this topic. Together, we were able to come up with a plan that made it so I still had that important piece of me: the writer. In turn, my brain didn’t fill with as many unhealthy thoughts about my appearance.
Now, if these feelings do resurface, and they do every once in a while, I know it’s because there isn’t balance somewhere in my life.
Aside from the suggestions of using our brains, getting proper sleep and being nutritionally sound, she also reminds us that being physically active five days a week.
“If doing a 30 minute yoga class simply isn’t in your cards,” Faubion said, “Take five minutes a day and focus on your navel while taking deep breaths.”
In other words, start small. I think sometimes we feel we need to make these huge changes in our life to make a difference, when a lot of times it’s the tweaks here and there that set you on a path of feeling better overall.
Here I am 6 months postpartum and still 20 pounds heavier than I was used to. But thankfully, in the bedroom, my mind is lighter than ever.