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It’s not just you, women can struggle to feel sexy after children

Ask any new mum if she feels sexy and you'd be hard going to get a "yes" between yawns.

And while we know pain, hormonal changes and tiredness all play a role in a woman's sexuality after childbirth, changes in the way she perceives herself while transitioning into motherhood is also a driver.

A 2009 Murdoch Children's Research Institute paper, Sexual health and intimacy after childbirth, studied 1,500 first-time mothers and found many struggled with feeling sexual after having a baby.

"I suppose I've lost the confidence just knowing that I'm a mum. Maybe for me that's taken a lot of sex appeal out of me as a woman. I don't see myself as sexy anymore because I know that I'm a mum," said one.

"It's kind of like a bit of a conflicting role to be a mother and a nurturer on one side, and a whore in the bedroom on the other side," said another.

Some did say intimacy with their partner had improved — they were "exploring more", for example. But for others, they felt attractive due to physical changes such as "huge boobs" and "milk leaking everywhere".

Professor Stephanie Brown from the institute said overwhelmingly chronic exhaustion, physical and emotional demands of caring for a newborn, and health problems caused by childbirth were the main reasons why women struggled to feel sexy.

"Some women find this all-consuming — and not surprisingly finding the energy, and time, for sex is a struggle," she said.

'Society's perception of motherhood harmful'

Sexologist and couples therapist Isiah McKimmie said outside of the obvious pressures of motherhood, a woman's sexuality was impacted by ideals around how a mother should look and act.

"We have research that shows we as a society in general perceive women as sexy or sexual as bad mothers," Ms McKimmie said.

A 2012 study titled MILFS and matrons: Images and realities of mother's sexuality, found "despite its essential role in motherhood and life, and the health benefits known to be associated with sexual activity, public expression of sexuality is still primarily associated with being young, childless, and unmarried".

Ms McKimmie said women often felt they couldn't "wear that revealing top" anymore for fear of being judged.

Men could also experience a change in how they see their partner, she said.

"It's the Madonna-whore dichotomy that continues to be perpetuated.

"Men now see these women 'she is the mother of child I can't see her that way anymore, I can't do those things to her anymore'."

Women giving life — 'that's hot'

Eryn Ford from Mummy Physiques often works with clients struggling to feel good about themselves after childbirth.

Eryn Ford with her son at the beach

After having her four-year-old son Tyler, the Sydney mother went on a journey of self-acceptance, and said she now felt sexier than ever.

"Our bodies change. It's not how it was when we were in our early 20s and it's so hard for some women to understand that it's never going to be like that again," Ms Ford said.

"I think you are so much sexier for having a child — that is empowering.

"The capability of women's bodies and what they've done is amazing. That's sexy, that's hot."

She said mothers were under relentless pressure from influences like social media to reach unachievable body image goals.

"The Instagram models — that's not reality."

Genetics also played a part, she said — no amount of exercise was going to give you longer legs. Acceptance was key.

"Feel confident in what you've got. Yeah your tummy might be a big wobbly, but look at what it gave you."

Men helping with baby is the key

Professor Brown said their research showed women with partners who were more involved with bub have better sex.

"It seems that women whose partners put in around the house and share the work of caring for their new baby tend to have a stronger emotional connection as a couple. This flows through to sexual relationships as well," she said.

"Women could benefit from less focus on body image, and more focus on men getting more involved around the house."

Psychologist and author of Becoming Mum, Koa Whittingham, said women should instead see the changes they are experiencing after having a baby as an opportunity to be learn and be flexible with sex.

"All of us have the right to be sexual," she said.

"Recognise also that sexuality is diverse. There is no right way to be sexual in terms of frequency, particular sexual acts performed or the way desire forms — spontaneously or with deliberate stimulation."

She said communication with partners was key.

"Remember the only thing that's necessary is mutual and consensual enjoyment. Everything else is up to you to experiment with. Now may in fact be the perfect time to explore something new together."

Original Article

The post It's not just you, women can struggle to feel sexy after children appeared first on News Wire Now.

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