There’s a lot of shame attached to a woman’s body.
I don’t mean that a woman’s body is something to be shameful of.
I mean that – particularly in my native Canadian/American culture – there’s a lot of hush-hush, “We don’t talk about that”, kind of stuff surrounding a woman’s sexual organs.
Clue #1 that this is an issue is the fact that a lot of women can’t even say “vagina”. It’s hoo-haw, or lady bits, or flower, or va-jay-jay.
We don’t come up with cutesy pet names for our arms. So why do we have to act like our vagina is this dirty thing that needs to be spoken about in whispers (if at all)?
This is a problem.
A huge problem.
Especially for a woman who’s struggling to love her body after baby.
The truth is, in order to boost our body image – the idea of feeling peaced right out in our skin – we need to be able to say vagina without acting like it’s a dirty word.
And that’s just the start.
In order to be flat out confident in our bodies we need to be able to talk about our bodies. Our whole bodies. Our vaginas. Our perineums. Our breasts. Our uteruses…
I’m not saying you should phone up your 93 year old grandpa to gab about the state of your perineum after giving birth to junior.
What I am saying is that – in an environment of people you trust – you should be completely comfortable talking about your body (including the stitch job on your perineum that made pooping such a joyous experience for the first 6+ weeks postpartum).
This can be a really hard hedge to leap over when you’ve spent the last – however many years it’s been since you got your first period – speaking all hush-hush about your va-jay-jay.
It’s not easy.
Years of patterns and routine can’t be undone in 24 hrs of saying vagina, breasts and perineum 4,234 times.
But just starting, just telling one trusted person the truth – the whole truth – about the facts and feelings surrounding your labour, your recovery, the state of your body right now… is incredibly powerful.
You’re giving yourself approval to explore all the thoughts, feelings, and emotions that surround your experience and your body. All the stuff that you need to unpack in order to feel happy, and strong, and wholly confident again.
And – in all honesty – this is also a medical issue.
Because if you’re having a hard time talking about your sex organ squad, that means you’re probably having a hard time bringing up anything that doesn’t feel right about your body to your doctor and other pro. helpers.
You wouldn’t feel nervous bringing up the fact that your wrist hurts from lugging your chunky monkey of a baby around.
So don’t be afraid to talk about the fact that, even though it’s been 5 months since you gave birth, your vagina still doesn’t feel totally okay during sex. In fact it kinda hurts. And you’re wondering, “Is this normal? Is this just supposed to be my life post-baby?” But you’re too afraid to start a conversation about your vagina with even your closest friends so you don’t say anything to anyone. Especially not your doctor. You suffer in silence. Because, you know, vagina. You just don’t talk about it.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Let’s make it not be this way.
Let’s make it okay to talk about all things post-baby, all body parts, all disgusting, painful, embarrassing bits.
Because you are not alone.
You’re not the only one.
And no – it’s not normal for sex to be painful. This doesn’t have to be your life now (or ever). So speak up. Say something.
Sure, you can keep calling it your hoo-haw if vagina just doesn’t work with your vocab flow right now. That’s okay. Just start talking about it – whatever you call it.
Start reconnecting with the parts of your body that turn you crimson when you think about them.
Start exploring how you feel about your body now. How you feel about how it looks, feels and acts.
Tell your husband what you need from him to feel comfortable during sex again – because sex post-baby is definitely not the same as sex pre-baby. And I’m not just talking about how it feels physically. It’s also about how you feel emotionally. Maybe he doesn’t know this. Maybe you need to tell him. Help him understand.
Tell your doctor that you think you may still have some hemorrhoids. Or something. Because pooping sure doesn’t feel fantastic that’s for darn sure.
Tell your best friend how breastfeeding is so much harder than you thought it would be. That you figured baby would just latch on like a natural and instead it makes you want to howl it hurts so bad.
Tell yourself that thinking of, touching, and asking questions about your vagina and other sexual bits is 100% ah-okay.
This is so important.
Because vagina isn’t a dirty word.
Your body – your whole body – isn’t something you need to feel ashamed about. Ever.
And the only way you’re going to be able to unconditionally love your post-baby body – with all the traces of the marvel it created – is if you ditch the shame and give yourself the opportunity to embrace your sex organ squad.
And you’re in a really great space – here, in this community right now – if you’re ready to embrace it.
Because I’m here with you.
We’re here with you.
You, my friend, are not alone.