How will he perceive me after birth?

He is the love of your life and knows everything about you but watching you as you give birth will be a whole new story. Are you afraid of how he will see you afterwards?

Many women are worried about the perception of their husband after they saw them giving birth.

The pain during labour can be intense and surprising. Those who already gave birth know that they are not always in control of their reactions and behaviour at that moment. A sweet woman can suddenly become very expressive. Some women can be quite rude with their husband or with the medical staff. These women are sometimes ashamed afterwards because they reacted in a way that they never did before.

Of course, you understand that you cannot expect how you will be before you experience it. The pain intensity, the duration of labour, your emotional state, the support you receive are all factors that will change your attitude and your behaviour. Don’t worry! People usually understand and forgive your mood swings.

Beyond your attitude and reactions, the biggest fear of women (and men!) is related to the vision that the man will have of his wife after he sees the baby come out. You are fully aware that you are not looking your best when you give birth. Forget about make-up, hairdos and your gorgeous figure under that hospital gown! Nonetheless, it will probably be the least of your concerns as the pain will peak and you will push with all your might!

The man’s reaction

All men will not react the same way as they witness the birth of their child. Some men will only remember the sight of their little prince or princess that has come into their life at long last! Others will see a strong and heroic woman who has been through hell and back. But some may be shocked by this moment. Watching delivery is impressive for anyone who sees it for the first time. In fact, it is so even the second or third time. Some men are so impressed with what they saw that they couldn’t, for a while, see their wife as an object of desire. It is as if they kept a strong mental image of the event. They cannot take this sight away from their spouse. Sexuality may, then, become complicated. It may result in sexual difficulties such as:

  • A decrease in sexual desire,
  • Arousal difficulties,
  • Difficulties in having an erection,
  • Difficulty eroticizing or sexualizing the partner.

The couple must then revisit sexuality. Sometimes we must learn to seduce again and learn to know the other’s body. It is not easy for these men to stop thinking about what they saw during delivery. Some time is necessary for this image to slowly fade away. The image of a desirable and sexualized woman will slowly replace it.

It is obviously scary to think that our partner can stop desiring us after we gave birth. Some man can acknowledge in advance that the vision of birth will have this effect and decide not to be there. Today, there is so much pressure on men who are invited to participate in birth that it is hard for them to express their reluctance and admit that they would prefer not to be there. They will be afraid to look like heartless fathers who do not want to be involved. Maybe we should listen to these men and respect them in their choice. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to know how they will react, the also learn on the spot.

Can we prevent?

Other than sharing your fears before birth, there is no specific way to prevent the image that a man will keep from delivery. Listen to him and express your fears too. Sometimes, watching a birth video can help reduce the surprise and astonishment. However, keep in mind that it is not a majority of men who keep a negative image of their partner’s genitals after childbirth. Most fathers keep fond and happy memories of their experience even if they were scared at first. Most men keep the birth of their child in mind than the mage of their wife’s body. The latter aspect becomes secondary and futile when they happily meet, with you, this little bundle of joy that is now part of your family.

Véronique Boisvert
Clinical sexologist, psychotherapist, doula

Veronique Boisvert holds a BA and an MA in sexology. She works  in a private practice as a clinical sexologist and psychotherapist to treat marital and sexual difficulties. As shehas always been passionate about the perinatal field, she also followed a doula training and  now gives a prenatal class, assists parents during the delivery and offers them support  after. Her professional experience and research has led her to specialize in postpartum disorders. That's what inspired her to write the book  Bien vivre ma période postnatale : prévenir les difficultés et devenir une maman heureuse (meaning “Living my postpartum period well: preventing problems and becoming a happy mom”). You can find more information about her practice and clinic on her website (in French only).

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