Q: I had a cesarean section when my first child was born two months ago, and now I have an atrocious scar. I can't imagine ever wanting to be naked in front of my husband again, much less have sex! What can I do to get over the fact that my body's ugly now?
A: Parents or not, we all have physical flaws: fat thighs, bad skin, or thinning hair. But so what? "If a perfect body were required before anyone could have sex, the human race would have died out millions of years ago!" says Edward Abramson, PhD, a clinical psychologist in Lafayette, California.
As your doctor probably told you, c-section scars shrink and fade with time. Meanwhile, examine your assumptions about your body and what made you sexually attractive to your husband in the first place. "You seem to be viewing your body solely in terms of the scar," says Abramson, "when in fact your husband probably appreciates many other features." Did he ever tell you that he loved your hair? Your legs? The way your skin smells? The curve of your back? Whatever physical attributes he lusted after before have not become invisible because of your scar. So why deny your husband the pleasure of seeing them?
Learn to be comfortable with your new body the same way you learned how to swim or to enter a room full of strangers and find someone to talk to: practice. If you do it enough, what once felt strange will begin to feel natural, especially if you proceed slowly.
In this case, that means choosing outfits for lovemaking that enhance your best features, such as a short nightgown to leave your legs bare, or a merry widow that pushes up your breasts while covering your midsection. Gradually wear less clothing when you're with your husband, and start walking around naked in nonsexual situations. If you pass your husband on the way to the shower in your natural, bouncy state, we guarantee that he won't be watching your scar. And, with enough practice, "exposing your body during lovemaking will be less threatening and more enjoyable," promises Abramson.
Holly Robinson is a Boston-area writer, who lives with her husband and their five children.
Originally published in American Baby magazine, March 2004.
All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.