PSA: You are allowed to feel sexy postpartum

Motherly Collective

At age 40, 6 months after having my first baby, I am feeling the sexiest I have ever felt in my life. It’s scary to say this out loud, because I know not everyone feels this way, and there’s an inherent stigma in admitting to feeling this way as a new mom. And while it’s not constant, I can confidently say that my new relationship to my body is, on the whole, more profound, empowering and liberating.

Here’s the kicker: It’s not because I’m having the most sex I’ve ever had, and it has nothing to do with weight loss. This newfound feeling has everything to do with being incredibly in awe of my body, and so deeply in touch with my physical form. 

I feel hot. There, I said it. 

There was nothing sexy about when I gave birth. I intended to have a home birth, and due to a high leak in my amniotic sac had to transfer to the hospital after my labor didn’t start naturally. I was there on pitocin for 24 hours, which was not part of my birth plan. I got an epidural, which I was not intending to do. I gave birth to my daughter vaginally and looked at the nurse midwife as she stitched me up and asked: “How bad is it?” 

A perineal tear plus hemorrhoids. Bloody nipples from a shallow latch. This was definitely not “sexy.” But after the acute wound-healing of my body was done, I noticed a new sense of self. A power, a love, a strength emanating from me—even with a massive stye on my eye and a colicky baby on my breast.

As women, we have been sold the lie that feeling sexy comes from having sex, from fitting into society’s narrow beauty ideals, from being, polished, well-dressed and made-up. The truth is that the feeling of sexiness comes from within. From letting the love for your family drench your insides. From appreciating your body and how beautiful it is, to being so powerful—and at the same time, so soft and tender. Loving your sensual body takes time and practice. 

I want all women to know that they deserve to take this time for themselves to become truly in touch with their new postpartum bodies.

But the truth is, most women have shame around taking the time to feel sensual, or for even wanting it in the first place. 

Women are not told to prioritize themselves as new moms. It would be selfish to ask your partner to watch the baby while you bathe, or dance, or lay around naked (or so they say). How dare you want to feel sexy and sexually connected to both yourself and your partner? 

Women are made to feel guilty, particularly in the new days of motherhood, for doing anything that would benefit themselves. 

But taking a few minutes to feel your body—your new, incredible body—is essential. 

Beyond having a positive impact on your own sense of self, tending to your new body will have a positive impact on the bond between you and your partner. And a healthy bond between you and your partner, in addition to a strong sense of self, will have a positive long-term impact on your baby.

But new moms are meant to feel tired and messy and overwhelmed, the internet says! Breaking this code of honor is like betraying the pack. It’s important to remember that as new moms, you are going through the most amazing rite of passage. Your body is a  portal to the great mystery, and that deserves celebrating. 

Imagine feeling sexy, even with a stye, or leaky breasts, or tears dripping down your cheeks. Your sensual power radiates from within: It’s there only if you claim it.  You can and should feel liberated after birth in your body, and in that freedom, you can feel sexy and powerful.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a new mom at 40, it’s that feeling like a sexy mama isn’t about sex. It’s the way you swing your hips as you walk. The deep breaths you take. The sound of desire as you eat a strawberry. It’s about savoring this life and the small sensual moments that make it up. 

Let’s change the old script from being a tired mama to a tired mama who also is soft and inviting in her tiredness. Who can put on a song and dance in the kitchen because it brings her pleasure.  Who can curl up in her partner’s lap when her baby is asleep and make out like a teenager.

Mama, you are allowed to feel sexy postpartum. Because you truly are.

This story is a part of The Motherly Collective contributor network where we showcase the stories, experiences and advice from brands, writers and experts who want to share their perspective with our community. We believe that there is no single story of motherhood, and that every mother’s journey is unique. By amplifying each mother’s experience and offering expert-driven content, we can support, inform and inspire each other on this incredible journey. If you’re interested in contributing to The Motherly Collective please click here.

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