It’s hard to know what’s going on inside men’s heads at the best of times. But after having a baby, when your body has changed so much, and self-esteem might be a challenge, you may be wondering what the man in your life really thinks about your postpartum body.
The standards of female beauty and social constructions nowadays can make body image a tough subject for most of us, even when we’re feeling great about ourselves. After our bodies have stretched and padded themselves to provide the best home for our growing babies, we may think that our bodies are even further from that standard. The vast majority of women have a baby in their lifetime. Yet the postpartum body is not one that you typically see celebrated in the media unless it’s to display how perfect the celebrity-mom-body is postpartum.
Women’s Postpartum Body Image Can Cause Distress
A study published in BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth regarding women’s experiences of their postpartum body image shed some light on this subject. It revealed that the differences between how women felt about their bodies and the socially constructed ideal of what they should look like cause body dissatisfaction in many women. This dissatisfaction can lead to psychological distress, part of which is fuelled by comments from their husbands. Partners were shown to influence whether women believe their new body stood in the way of their attractiveness to their husbands.
I decided to interview five male partners of postpartum women to see what they had to say about their partners’ post-baby bodies. I assumed I would end up with a mix of positive and negative sentiments. After all, changes can be difficult, and many couples struggle with intimacy postpartum and beyond. However, the reactions I got to this question were overwhelmingly positive. Just try not to tear up!
But What Do Men Really Think About Our Postpartum Bodies?
“My wife has never been more beautiful than the times she was carrying my children. The postpartum body is just as beautiful. I can understand how my wife felt unlike herself because of much her body changed in one year. But I tried to hype her up. Love #mombods!”
“My wife is stunning before, during, and after pregnancy and for a multitude of different reasons. Any changes from pre- to post-pregnancy are a badge of honor to what this human being can do. Being there during birth and seeing what that entails, that resilience and ability is damn near the sexiest and most admirable thing I’ve ever seen! I could never do anything like that.”
“As someone who has struggled with body image from an early age, I recognize the changes my partner experienced. However, I have to admit, during that time, all I saw was the woman who carried our precious child. I can honestly say my attraction to her was heightened. Yes, bodies change, every stretch mark, every scar tells a beautiful story. Our story. Nothing will change that; those memories are ours. These changes are part of our life together and, as such, only heightened my attraction to my partner.
I can’t say for certain if I actually took notice of the changes in the early days. Parenting isn’t easy, but as time goes on, the changes become who we are. My partner has often mentioned some body changes that she is concerned about. I don’t see them, at least not in her. My attraction to her was elevated after our child was born. I wish I could paint a rosy perfect picture of life after kids, but we all make mistakes, parenting is hard, and love is blind.”
“My daughter’s mother was f***** insanely gorgeous during pregnancy and after it!! When people talked about the glow, I had no idea until I actually saw it with my own eyes!!! And after our daughter, she was still insanely attractive.”
“About my partner’s postpartum body, I can honestly say that I have not put much thought into it until being asked about my opinion about it. I think the reason for that is likely fairly obvious: we just had a new baby! The biggest impact that the changes to her body ever had on me or my actions has always been from her own opinions. She would voice complaints about her body, and so I would tend to avoid those areas. In retrospect, that kind of avoidance would likely come across as a lack of attraction in a kind of negative feedback loop.”
A Partner’s Support Can Change A Woman’s Self-Image
The BMC review says that when women perceive that their husbands support them, the satisfaction with their appearance increases. Women who felt criticized by their partners were less secure. The literature review shows men have an impact on how women perceive their identities. Having a loving and attentive partner who honors their new postpartum bodies is essential for feeling good in their own skin.
So hopefully, you have a partner just as supportive. If not, show him these stunning examples of real-life men who honor the hard work their partners have done in growing and nurturing their family. And remember, you are beautiful no matter what anyone thinks anyway! Rock that mom bod like the boss you are!