Yesterday a thought hit me. My Instagram followers are more familiar with the way my body looks after having a baby than my husband is. I’m happy to post photos of my baby belly and me in my underwear on my Instagram feed. But would I stand willingly in front of my husband the same way? Probably not. And that’s not because I’m bigger. It’s because I’m different. My body has changed from the one my husband used to know and love. And I find it hard to trust that he would love my new body as much as he did my old one. I’m not alone in this either. If you’re reading this then you probably find it hard to trust your partner loves your post-baby body too.
Here’s the thing. My husband and I met 8 years ago. I was a lot lighter. A lot slimmer and I’d only had one baby. I was also a recovering anorexic so was very petite and had a figure that fit with the ideal body type we get force fed to us daily. Great boobs, small waist, flat stomach, size 8 and not yet tired/exhausted/haggard looking from three kids. So it was easy to think that my partner found me attractive and sexy. I don’t think it ever really occurred to me that he wouldn’t like my body. And being in the early, heady days of lust, hormones and lots of great sex really helped too.
But perhaps more importantly, I didn’t doubt that he loved my body because I was slim.
Fast forward to now, I’ve had three kids, 2 c-sections, put on about 50 lbs, gone up 4 dress sizes and am heading towards 40 fast. I don’t have youth on my side. I do look knackered and to be honest, making an effort with my appearance is limited to birthdays and anniversaries. Right now it feels almost impossible for me to believe that my husband would still love my body. Not just because of how it looks but because it’s vastly different to how it used to look.
I think this is a key point. When someone has known you to look a certain way there is always a fear of what they will think when they see you are different. This is why we can feel like we are confident in our bodies and then an invitation to a school reunion throws us completely off track. It’s people seeing how we’ve changed that is difficult. We know that people loved us as we were but we don’t yet know if they will love us as we are now.
So how do you learn to trust that your partner loves your post-baby body as much as your pre-baby one? How do you get over that fear that the changes pregnancy has brought will be criticised rather than loved by him? Here are five tips to help you do this.
#1 – Talk to your partner
I often feel like a broken record on this one but it really is the most effective, quickest and important way to put any doubts about what your partner thinks to rest. Tell your partner that you are feeling insecure because of how your body has changed. Talk to him about your fears that he doesn’t like your body as much as he did. Give him the chance to reassure you and let him know that this is something that is bothering you.
Ultimately the only way to know what your partner thinks is to ask him. So as hard as it is, having this conversation is the best way to build the trust you need.
#2 – Remind yourself of how you feel about changes to your partners body
The changes to your body that are caused by pregnancy can be fairly dramatic. But the reality is that every body is different and changes over time, not just during pregnancy. Unless your husband is a male supermodel chances are that his body isn’t perfect. And it probably doesn’t look the same way it did the day you met either.
So here’s the thing to remember. You still love your partner despite the fact that his body isn’t perfect and has changed over the years so why wouldn’t he feel the same as you? Plus I imagine that what you love about your partner has very little to do with his body. The reverse is true too. Keep reminding yourself that your partner is in love with who you are; not what you look like.
#3 – Deal with your own issues and stop projecting
It’s very (very) hard not to project your own thoughts, beliefs and opinions onto someone else. We do it subconsciously and often don’t realise it. So there’s a good chance that when you don’t trust your partner loves your body you are actually projecting that YOU don’t love your body onto him and assuming he feels the same way about it that you do. This is why it’s so important to tackle any body image issues that you have. It’s the only way to make sure that you aren’t attributing your own feelings to your partner.
Many a man has been taken completely off guard when accused of hating their partners post-baby body because generally, they haven’t given it a second thought. Make sure you aren’t projecting your own anxieties about whether your body is good enough on to your partner. That way you will be able to hear what he really thinks and get the reassurance you need.
#4 – Face your fears
As I said at the start, Instagram has seen more of my body recently than my husband. I struggle to believe that he will love the way my body looks as it’s so different now and letting him see it, quite frankly, terrifies me. But that fear will always be there unless I do something about it. I can talk to him over and over to find out if he says he still loves my body but ultimately it’s just words. I won’t fully believe it until he’s actually seen my body and still looks at me like he thinks I’m the most beautiful woman on earth.
So at some point I will have to face my fear and strip off in front of him. If, like me, you feel awkward about showing your partner your body then I’m afraid the only way to deal with this is to just get on with it and do it. It might not be easy but working through any fears will help you to be able to relax and trust your partner really does love your body.
#5 – Learn how to love your body
As you might have guessed, the more you love your body the easier it will be to believe your partner does too. Whether it’s because we’re projecting or whether our own fears just get in the way of thinking anyone else could find us attractive, when we hate or judge our own bodies then we are going to think other people do too.
So learn to love your body. Build your confidence and find ways you can be positive about your body after a baby. Embrace the changes and your partner will too. You can do my free 5 day challenge to learn to love your post-baby body if this is something you are struggling with.
Trusting that your partner loves your body isn’t always easy but following the tips above will really help. It can take time to build that trust so take it one step at a time and just believe that it’s possible. If you still find it hard to trust that your partner finds you attractive read this post on 5 important questions to ask if you feel your partner doesn’t find you attractive.