I was recently in a Facebook group when I saw the following post;
My husband has told me that he doesn’t find me attractive after having our twin boys. He doesn’t understand why I still haven’t gone back to the way I was before and says that he can’t wait for me to lose the weight so that I’ll look better. I’m currently 4 weeks post-partum...
As you would hope, the comments blasting her partner for his words came flooding in. The verdict was unanimous - the guy was clearly an idiot. Had this been real life, the women in this group would almost definitely have formed a lynch mob and gone to deliver some good ol’ fashioned vigilante justice on her partner.
But, putting aside for one moment just how tackless and thoughtless this particular man was, this post also highlighted to me a wider problem when it comes to women and their post-partum bodies.
In short, it seems that society expects the changes that pregnancy brings to disappear as soon as the pregnancy is over.
Women are blasted with messages from everywhere about how they can quickly lose the weight and tone up. We see photos of celebrities plastered on magazines that have ‘snapped’ back within a few weeks. The reality is, however, that it will take a long time for your partners body to get back to normal after a baby. And that’s if it ever does.
So here’s what you really need to know when it comes to your partners post-baby body so that you don’t risk getting hit round the head with a frying pan because you’ve made a ridiculous comments like the one above;
It will change
I don’t care how many pins there are on Pinterest promising that women can get their ‘pre-baby’ body back - it’s not likely to happen. Even if your partner can lose all the baby weight she might still have stretch marks, loose skin or varicose veins. Her boobs are almost certainly going to be different, even if she doesn’t breast feed. Plus her hips and bust might be wider. Her hair might be thinner and these changes can be permanent.
So you need to drop your expectation that she is going to look exactly as she did before she got pregnant and embrace the new body that she’s got. It might not look the same but that doesn’t make it any less beautiful.
She’ll feel self-conscious about it
The number of women I know who didn’t feel-self conscious after a baby can be counted on my fingers. It’s perfectly natural for your partner to look in the mirror and worry about what she sees. It’s unsettling for her to have to acknowledge the differences and reconcile herself to the fact that some of the changes won’t go away. And most of all, she’ll be paranoid about whether or not you still find her as attractive as you did before.
This is where you make all the difference in how she feels. Tell her that she’s perfect. Reassure her that you still love her just the way she is. Help her to talk about and work through her anxieties about her new body and above all, make sure you treat her like she is the most beautiful woman you know.
There are things you should never say
If you are a sensible man then you will have read the comment above and cringed because you know that some things are just so stupid they should never be said out-loud. Ever. Yes, it might be obvious that your partner has put on weight. Or that she’s got an overhang now. But you don’t say these things to her! Not only will you destroy her self-esteem and hurt her feelings, it’s also about as tactless as you can get.
Bottom line is that these changes that have happened are no different to the flaws that you have (and yes, you do have them). So unless you’d be perfectly happy with your partner pointing out what is wrong with your body, keep any negative opinions about hers to yourself.
When you think you are helping, you probably aren’t
A lot of the time you will want to help your partner feel better about her body. And I get that. It’s not easy to see someone lose confidence or to be critical of the way they look. But telling her that she can lose weight or go to the gym is not as helpful as you think. In fact, comments like this will just reinforce to your partner that you don’t think she looks OK as she is.
Unless you’re telling her that she is amazing, it’s probably best to just keep your mouth shut. Don’t offer to help her eat less. Or exercise more. Telling her that she needs to stop eating sweets is not going to earn you brownie points. If she’s talking to you about feeling insecure about her body then she’s looking for one thing only - your reassurance that you still find her sexy. So give it to her (with a hug) and keep everything else to yourself.
Her body is amazing
It’s easy to get hung up on how your partners body has changed but don’t ever lose sight of what it’s done. Her body grew, protected, nurtured and then birthed your baby. If you want to compare who’s body is more incredible she’s going to wipe the floor with you every time. We’re becoming increasingly shallow as a society about what we think our bodies should look like but this is at the expense of marvelling at what our bodies can do.
So what if your partner doesn’t look like a model or has put on a few pounds. She made a human being. Inside her. That’s pretty amazing. Any time that you start to think that your partners body doesn’t look as good to you as it did, remind yourself of what it’s done. It’s given you the most precious thing you can ever have in life and for that you should be eternally grateful.