The concept of body positivity teaches us that all bodies are good bodies, but that fact that can be hard to remember amidst rampant shaming of postpartum bodies. Even a simple task, like going grocery shopping, can become a battle against suffocating feelings of body shame, especially when magazines in the checkout line trumpet celebrities that “look great after baby” (read: looking exactly as they did before pregnancy) and other celebrities that have “let themselves go.” When you're face-to-face with those headlines, or when you’re standing in front of the bathroom mirror and can barely recognize the reflection facing you, reassuring words can make a world of difference. There are certain things body positive men say to their postpartum partners or, sometimes just as importantly, know not to say to their partners, that can help their family navigate this stormy time.
Of course, not all postpartum couples are heterosexual or include cisgender males, however, the majority of postpartum couples are and do. In addition to dealing with the basic challenges of sleeplessness and all of the other demands that come with the birth of a new baby, couples are simultaneously battling wildly unrealistic expectations for postpartum recovery and appearance. Unfortunately, it’s not a given that most men, socialized in a society that fundamentally doesn’t appreciate women and ignores or even denigrates the realities of what reproduction typically does to our bodies, will understand what it means to be fully supportive and respectful of their female partners after giving birth. That basic inequality in our relationships introduces a number of additional hurdles for us to overcome with regard to our sex lives and other aspects of our relationships.
As a caring person and a staunch feminist who continually worked to make my life easier and the world better, I knew long before giving birth that my partner was the right person for me. Still, the things he did for me and said to me after giving birth our son reaffirmed, for me, that I’d made the right choice of partner. His words continually reminded me that he loved and appreciated me beyond whatever superficial things men are traditionally brought up to value in their female partners. He, like other body positive men, constantly reminded me that he loved and valued me and my hardworking mama body, by saying things like: