“I grew up with the notion that after a baby, you were supposed to lose your sex appeal; hate your new body, dress to cover it up, and mope around Target like a frumpy woman desperately missing her youth…But then I held my daughter in my arms for the first time, stared in awe at her precious newborn face, and realized that my life was just beginning, and I was reborn as well”.

Michelle Dempsey

Sex appeal of motherhood

A few weeks ago on Mums in Heels Instagram I asked the question: why when women become mothers they suddenly lose their appeal in the public eye. I had zero comments…but many likes. I guess most mothers were too busy to reply and the others just didn’t care.

According to a recent poll among women in Great Britain, it takes an average of 18 months for new mothers to “feel like a woman again”. More than two thirds of those questioned admitted to feeling ‘saggy’, ‘fat’ and ‘unattractive’ in the months after giving birth.

I guess then the right question is: Why do women lose their confidence and appeal after becoming moms? Should we blame our hormones, society or our partners for it?

‘Sexy’ – not a word you often hear associated with motherhood. A mother can be beautiful, elegant, funny, pretty, clever, hard working, gifted, loving, kind… But sexy? No. Or well, it depends. Many men find their wives sexy and attractive in their new role as mothers, but this is not entirely what influences the way women feel about themselves. Thinking back to the sleepless nights, the loss of independence, the sudden stress from so many changes in your family routine and the weight of worries, I ask myself who can resist such stress and not have a crisis of confidence?

I have to admit that after my fist one was born I was feeling so lost and so disconnected to the woman I used to know so well. And I did everything possible to get back into her skin again instead of taking the time to enjoy what was going on in my life. I was scared that I would never be that woman again and that terrified me. Sadly at the time I wasn’t able to acknowledge the hormonal changes I was going through and used to think I was doing something wrong or worse, that there was something wrong with me. On top of it all most of the women I observed out there seemed perfectly fine and happy with their children…and I wasn’t. Only later I understood we were all pretending…As a foreigner I didn’t have many friends and family around me and had only my partner, except he was at work all day long… I felt trapped, helpless and isolated. It was so scary and shameful to find out that you didn’t quite enjoy motherhood, especially when I had been waiting for it for so long… Everything becomes a bitter sweet experience and there is nothing sexy about how you see yourself, how you treat and talk to yourself around that period of time. On top of that you keep receiving confusing signals from society too.

Sex appeal and motherhood

If a celebrity mother is photographed looking fabulously sexy on a night out, she’s often criticized for being out on the town and dressing unsuitably instead of staying in with her children. If we gain weight after having babies, we ‘let ourselves go’. But if we regain our figure, we’re body-obsessed.

If we dress badly we’re frumpy; if we dress sexily we’ve thrown away our morals. There is no win you might think.

In fact there is a win and it is mainly about your mindset. If you decide to put the blame on others and behave like a victim you will always be one no matter the circumstances, but if you decide to own it, the good, the bad and the not so stylish during motherhood, then you will be attractive and absolutely sexy. Because sexy is when a woman knows her worth beyond a wobbly tummy and a tired face. When she keeps looking at her life as an exciting new experience no matter that the days eventually feel like Groundhog Day with a new born, and when we are able to fully own the wonder of our bodies performing incredibly complex functions on a daily basis.

I felt sexy. And not like a Victoria’s Secret runway show model type of sexy. More like sexy, empowered, woman on a mission — and I was pleasantly surprised.

Michelle Dempsey

I believe the little trick for every mum, no matter how old her kids are- new born, toddlers or teenagers, is to keep a good hold of who she is, to enjoy the ‘woman’ side of herself rather than exclusively the mother side and to remember that it’s not at all about looking perfect. It’s about juggling all the roles we have with grace and authenticity and to enjoy them all.