Feel sexy in Pregnancy?… Are you sure?
Isn’t it funny how our culture seems to think sex and pregnancy shouldn’t go together? “Feel sexy in pregnancy?” It seems like Americans have stuff about sex all over the place: magazines at the grocery store, television commercials, Super Bowl half-time shows, even teenage clothing lines. But when it comes to a woman who has (obviously) already had some experience with sex, and is now pregnant, having sex or being sexy becomes taboo.
How often have you read a pregnancy magazine or book that talked about sex and pregnancy? If you’re reading mainstream pregnancy stuff, I’m gonna bet you could count the occasions on one hand. And if it’s like most mainstream pregnancy magazines or books, it’s usually an article or short blurb that expands upon this question: Is it safe to have sex during pregnancy? Not only is it safe – it’s good!
Sex during pregnancy has a plethera of benefits.
Just to name a few, sex during pregnancy increases self-esteem, increases satisfaction in your relationship with your partner, and even preps for birth.
Yup, you heard that right. Sex can even make birth work better. In her book, Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, renowned midwife Ina May Gaskin has a section that talks specifically about sex, pregnancy, and birth. (Side note: I found this book in a used book store while shopping there with my sister-in-law, who loves books just as much, if not more, than I do. I think the price on it was $5. Seeing as this is such a classic birth book, I snatched it off the shelf! I love that it still kinda smells like a used book store.)
So back to what we were talking about…. Interestingly, what often leads to or happens in great sex will often aid in a great birth. Ina May, and obstetricians she knows personally, noticed that breast stimulation, dark rooms, touch and massage all helped labor to progress well. Even more interesting is the fact that sex can help start labor. Semen contains prostaglandins, which are thought to soften the cervix. What’s funny is that a lot of the cervical gels used to induce labor are made with prostaglandins. So when you think about it that way, would you rather have sex to get labor going or use have some cold gel to get things going? (I really hope you said sex!)
Ok, ok. So I don’t need to beat a dead horse. You can obviously see that there are many benefits to having sex in pregnancy. Here’s the problem:
A lot of women don’t want to have sex in pregnancy because they don’t feel sexy.
Isn’t that sad? Our culture has made pregnancy out to be a fat-stage, rather than recognizing it for the beautiful season of life that it is. I’m sure you have heard, and maybe even said, “Wow! You’re getting so big!” It’s hard for women to feel like that’s a positive thing when it’s been pounded into their brains since puberty that thinner is better.
Amidst all of this talk of being “big” or “huge” or “ready to pop”, we miss the profound beauty in pregnancy. We pass over the magnitude of what’s happening: Pregnant women grow babies. Did you catch that? They are growing another human! It’s like the comedian Jim Gaffigan says, “But truly, women are amazing. Think about it this way: a woman can grow a baby inside her body. Then a woman can deliver the baby through her body. Then, by some miracle, a woman can feed a baby with her body. When you compare that to the male’s contribution to life, it’s kind of embarassing, really.” (P.s. If you haven’t seen his 4-kids skit, watch it now. You’ll die laughing.)
So think about that! Yes, you’re belly is getting bigger. Yes, there are sometimes some rather uncomfortable changes that come with (and a lot of those uncomfortable changes can be alleviated with exercise, diet, chiropractic, and massage). But you don’t have to consider it a stage of misery and whale-like existance.
Part of it (ok, most of it) is how you view yourself.
Isn’t that the truth even when you’re not pregnant?
Take for instance, my fellow Birth Boot Camp Instructor Hailie Wolfe. Rather than seeing her growing belly as a nuisance or something to be ashamed of, she feels like she has some curves she gets to enjoy!
Funny enough, the only time I’ve ever felt confident in a bikini was during pregnancy. I felt like my belly was adorable and my chest had some va-voom. Plus, I had summer babies, so the fewer the clothes the better! During one of my pregnancies I was a bridesmaid. I was 8 months and HUGE, but I rocked my bump and felt gorgeous – I even broke it down on the dance floor with my awesome bump. –Hailie Wolfe
Another BBC instructor describes her pregnancy in a similar way: lots of confidence. But her hormones made her feel particularly sexy.
I felt absolutely gorgeous during my first pregnancy. It was the first time in my life I felt really beautiful. And I’ll be blunt. Once I was in my second trimester, I became really horny. Combine those feelings with a husband who loves my pregnant body, it is hard not to feel sexy. I finally had boobs! I had a belly that I didn’t have to worry about sucking in. I always love pregnancy for that part. No longer having to suck in my belly. –Kristi Keen
So what if you’re not the “drop it like it’s hot” pregnant-type or the “let’s get it on” pregnant-type? You don’t have to be dancing or even pumped full of “those” hormones to feel sexy in pregnancy. It could be as simple as knowing you’ve got a bun in the oven, which makes you glowing and happy with yourself.
I felt amazing in my second pregnancy. I remember being so happy, baking and laughing. I felt beautiful. –Amanda Devereux
Ok, so these women obviously have some wonderful self-esteem going on in their pregnancies. Which just goes to show: it’s possible. You can think about your body and the growth that’s happening with positivity. You can even consider yourself beautiful and sexy in pregnancy. But what if it doesn’t come naturally? What if your struggling to see the beauty in your bump? I’ve got a few suggestions for you on how to feel sexy in pregnancy. Let’s check ’em out.
It’s amazing what exercise does for us when we’re not pregnant. Now think about what it can do when you are pregnant. To name just a few benefits, exercise decreases pregnancy pains (back, joint, etc.), improves mood and even may prevent depression, decreases risk of problems like preeclampsia, decrease risk of cesarean surgery or operative vaginal delivery (ie, forceps or vacuum), and improve postpartum recovery.
I hit upon a great combination this pregnancy that has made me feel great about my body: I go to the gym three times a week and I don’t know my weight. It’s made so much of a difference that some of my maternity pictures will be nudes. I can see the future breastmilk (AKA: fat deposits) on my thighs, arms, and torso, but it doesn’t bother me this time. -Anonymous
Isn’t it awesome how this mom is still confident with herself, even though she’s seeing her body change in ways that used to bother her? Taking care of herself through exercise and being willing to let go of what used to hold her back from self-confidence (the scale), she know has loads of confidence!
Not sure how to get started exercising in pregnancy? First, check out my Complete Guide to Exercising Safely in Pregnancy. After that, consider enrolling in an Early Pregnancy Class or Childbirth Class. (A comprehensive class should definitely have some exercise instructions and tips for you.)
2. Practice self-care.
Exercise is obviously a part of this, but there is so much more to think about. Are you eating foods that make you feel blah and give you zero energy? (Usually those kinds of food are factory-made.) Do you make it a priority to receive good prenatal care from a chiropractor and/or a prenatal massage therapist? These things can make a difference!
Once the nausea was over I loved being pregnant. The happy pregnancy hormones were good to me! I was also comfortable throughout my pregnancy, even at the end. I attribute it to taking care of myself. I ate well, stayed active, and got regular massages and chiropractic care! –Maryellen Yates
(P.s. When we lived in Cheyenne, my best friend was a massage therapist. Can you say lucky?! Usually my husband would do yard work or bits of house remodeling in exchange for prenatal massage for me. *I know, I know. I seriously have the best husband – ever. I love that man.*)
3. Let your husband admire you.
I’d even go as far as to say, “Let him check you out!” (And enjoy being admired!) Contrary to popular belief, men do not always think that women are no longer beautiful in pregnancy. In fact, the opposite is often true.
I feel so very womanly! Even when I gain more weight that I want to, I love how curvy and feminine I look when pregnant. My husband thinks I am way sexy, and he said this is why I keep getting knocked up. As soon as I start to widen he says that he loves how hot I look when pregnant, which makes me feel so loved. Pregnancy makes me feel more like a woman than any clothing or makeup ever could. –Michelle Davidson
I remember in my first pregnancy, as I was getting bigger, I’d ask my husband, “Do you care how big my stomach is?” And he would say, “Baby, if your stomach wasn’t getting bigger, we wouldn’t be having a baby.” Practical, eh?
But seriously. Men often admire and adore the way their partner looks in pregnancy! Don’t be ashamed of it – enjoy it!
I’m loving the second trimester. I feel sexy and curvy. My husband is loving the curves. There is something so intimate and awesome about growing a baby (or two). I don’t remember being this amorous with my girl pregnancies…so maybe the twins are boys with lots of testosterone. –Laurie McGowan
Having a husband who adores your new curves plus hormones that are raging can create some awesome self-confidence.
4. Remember your body’s abilities.
Remember that Jim Gaffigan quote at the top of this post? Your body is incredible. It does, and continues to do, amazing things to give life. Rather than slide over that, take a few minutes to really think about how awesome that is.
I appreciate the amazing ability that my body has to grow a person. My husband has always loved me no matter my shape. Incidentally, though my body is nowhere near ‘in shape’, I have so much more confidence now after having two kids. My body grew two humans and sustained them with breastmilk for over 4.5 years! That’s pretty amazing! –Rebecca Grochowski
5. Get in your head, and tell yourself that you are beautiful.
Sometimes, no matter what other people think, what awesome boosts our hormones are giving, or how healthy we live, we still get in a rut. This is when it would be a good time to really get inside your own brain. What’s holding you back? What bothers you? What are you afraid of?
Often times, it can be a fear of what others think. ‘I can’t think I’m sexy in pregnancy – what would people think of me?’ Our culture has made it so that you’re either in one of two categories: prudes or sluts. Guess what? You don’t have to be in either. As a Christian, I am very much aware that God expects me to be modest. I’m also very aware that He had an entire book in the Bible penned about the sexual relationship between husband and wife (Song of Solomon). It’s very possible for me, and you, to not let it all hang out but to still feel sexy and beautiful.
Another way that our brains can get in the way of feeling sexy in pregnancy is to be fixated on what someone else said about us… even if it happened years ago. (I know I’m not the only one to do this!) Do yourself a favor. Find a way to take that garbage and throw it out. I’ve heard of women writing down things people have said about them and then literally crumpling up those pieces of paper and throwing it away; give it a shot.
Here are a few exercises that should help get rid of whatever is holding you back from enjoying the way you look and feel in pregnancy:
- This is one that people are loving right now: color. Go buy yourself an Etsy picture of a pregnant lady, or Photoshop a photo of yourself so that it’s color-able, or get an Early Pregnancy Book from Birth Boot Camp. Spend time putting positive thoughts into the way your body looks while you color.
- Another option: spend time making yourself look nice. My mom used to tell me growing up that I’d feel better about how I looked if I invested in myself. (Isn’t it amazing how moms are right?) So put on makeup you like, or take a walk outside because it feels good, or paint your toes a fantastic new color.
- And last option: make yourself a “I feel sexy/beautiful” playlist. Listen to it when you get ready for the day, or when you feel not-so-sure about your growing body, or when you’re getting your exercise on.
You are beautiful. You are sexy. Especially in pregnancy. Tell yourself, and believe it, every day.
What is your favorite way to feel beautiful and sexy in pregnancy? Share in the comments, friend!