I remember after my pregnancy with Felix, a mama friend told me that she was about to do a boudoir shoot. My curiosity was immediately sparked and I thought "How courageous of her. She must feel so sexy in her body already. I don't even know if I would have had the confidence before having a baby."
She then shared with me that the reason she was having this photoshoot was so she could see herself as sexy again. Sometimes it takes someone else to capture your beauty and reflect it back to you because so many of us have a pretty dominant inner critic.
To be honest, for me personally, I didn't think that my body looked that drastically different from before my pregnancy, I just didn't feel sexy.
It took quite a while for me after Felix's birth to get that part of me back and while I do believe that part of this is normal (especially for breastfeeding moms where oxytocin and prolactin are running the show while progesterone and estrogen are suppressed), I also believe that there comes a time when feeling sexy and confident in your postpartum body isn't just a result of your physical state or how your body looks, but, primarily, your mental and emotional state!
Today I am so honored to introduce you to Brandi Grooms Johnson as your Motherhood Spotlight. Brandi is a beauty, boudoir and maternity photographer and focuses on helping women feel divinely powerful, feminine and free. Brandi is also a mama and when I talked to her I just knew that she understood the challenges so many mamas face when it comes to feeling sexy and confident again in our bodies after having birthed a baby.
We rarely talk about these challenges openly and so I know that you will find so much resonance in Brandi's story. I know I did (I may even do a boudoir photoshoot;))! In her post below, she also shares 7 specific action steps you can take to regain your sense of sexiness and confidence -physically, emotionally and mentally.
Today especially, I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. Let's open up a conversation and tell us how you feel in your body after your pregnancy and/or what helped you in regaining a sense of sexiness and confidence.
Feeling sexy and confident again after baby
by Brandi Grooms Johnson
As the circles under my eyes grew darker and my mental capacity for remembering things dwindled with each passing, sleep deprived hour, I felt like I was unraveling. I had a new appreciation for my body and the long journey we just traveled together. I loved being pregnant and absolutely adored my little girl. Yet, my sense of self became askew. My newborn and my confidence in being a new mother grew, but my self-assurance and ability to feel sexy in this new post-partum body diminished.
I had always been a confident, sexual person. The first few weeks after my daughter was born I was so grateful for my body’s ability to conceive, grow, nurture and deliver a baby.
But as the months passed, seeing myself naked became something I avoided.
I still had no desire to be intimate with my husband, and the idea of having sex made me cringe. The crazy thing was that I was more attracted to my husband now that we had our daughter. Watching him with her and knowing that we together created this little being made me fall in love with him all over again. It was a deeper love. Yet, it took everything I had to agree to have sex with him. I thought that if I just did it I would find myself enjoying it, but that didn’t come till much later.
I had lost the ability to connect not only with my partner, but with the sexual part my identity.
It seemed like nothing had changed for my husband, but everything had changed for me. He still playfully grabbed my butt and my breasts, sweetly gave me kisses on my neck and shoulders, snuck up and hugged me from behind and regularly told me I was beautiful. I was thrilled that he could overlook the changes that my body had gone through and still thought I was sexy. I just couldn’t see myself that way. I kept thinking, “How could I empower other women to feel sexy and embrace who they are, when I couldn’t even do that for myself”. Sexy is what I do for a living… how am I going to make this work? I started second guessing everything I come to believe about myself as a woman, wife, and entrepreneur.
I came to the realization that I was the only one that could turn this around. So, I started to make some changes. Here are a few things that I did to bring sexy back into my life and regain my confidence.
1) Quiet that inner critic.
We are our own worst critic and to quiet that inner critic can be a real challenge. I had to learn how to turn things around mentally, and be kinder in my thoughts. Instead of being upset or angry with the slow pace at which my body was “bouncing back” or my lack of a sex drive, I learned to be grateful for the body that gave me such an amazing little girl. I began looking in the mirror and complimenting myself on things that I liked, such as my legs or my arms. I began telling myself that my body was beautiful and repeating mantras (even if I didn’t necessarily believe them whole heartedly at first). I began to regain confidence and view myself differently through kinder, more forgiving eyes.
2) Get up, out and moving.
Once I got over the new mom fear of my child catching every illness possible and actually left the house, I was liberated. Well, as much as you can be with a nursing baby. I went on long walks at least twice a day with my daughter. Getting out into the fresh air and moving my body made a world of difference for me mentally and physically. I could think more clearly. I got out of my own head and engaged with nature and people other than my baby and husband. I eased back in to my yoga practice and started to feel like me again. I remember thinking about my baby weight, “If you don’t move it you can’t lose it.”
Meeting and talking with other new moms was another turning point for me. It allowed me to hear what other women were experiencing at different stages of motherhood, and to not feel so alone in this new role and body.
4) Choose to wear something sexy.
Life with a newborn is messy; our breasts leak and we almost consistently are wearing another human’s fluids of some kind. I made a point to wear something that made me feel sexy everyday. For me, that was lace nursing bras and underwear. It was something so simple, yet it made a huge difference in my mood. Every time I nursed or had to change my clothes (typically several times a day) I got a glimpse of something pretty and even sexy.
5) Glam it up.
I wasn’t much of an everyday makeup wearer. However, putting a little mascara and blush on made me feel less like a zombie and more like I could face the world. On days that I was especially tired I would go the extra mile and wear foundation and the whole nine yards. For me, it was a pick-me-up.
6) Be candid.
I found that being honest and having a candid conversation with my partner about what made me feel sexy now, after baby, was a huge milestone. Things had changed. I had to explain that although they were, in his eyes, beckoning him that my breasts were now off limits. To me they were a source of nutrition for our child. The slightest touch or even a glance at them started a chain reaction, all of which were not sexy. Things I enjoyed prior to having my daughter were not only NOT working anymore, I simply didn’t like them. It became like dating again, exploring and discovering what turned us on what each of us enjoyed.
7) Take time for yourself.
I was mentally, emotionally and physically exhausted. I felt as though I had nothing left to give to anyone, anymore. It wasn’t until my husband urged me to go get a massage and take some time for myself that I realized that self care was an essential part of the equation. Self care doesn’t always have to be an extravagant trip to the spa. Sometimes it’s taking ten minutes alone to assist in the transition from work to home or vise versa. I now run regularly and try to take a full day to myself at least once a month, because when I am in a great head space everything runs smoother. I can take on any challenge.
Three years later, I am empowering women to feel good about themselves and embrace the changes that come with pregnancy and motherhood through photography. I love my job, and although my body may look different from my pre-baby body I can say that I have “bounced back.”
Brandi Grooms Johnson is an award winning photographer that helps women feel divinely powerful, feminine and free, whether in their personal life or business life. Brandi specializes in photography for women: Beauty, Boudoir, Maternity, Fitness and Personal Branding Photography.
A graduate of Manhattan’s School of Visual Arts, she strives to capture the inner radiance and allure of her subjects. Brandi began her career as a fine art photographer. The New Orleans native’s photography exudes sensuality and romance. Blending her sultry, fine art style with an editorial lifestyle influence, Brandi’s work is elegant, spontaneous, and rich with beauty and emotion.
Here are a few more photographs of Brandi's with her mama clients. Stunning, don't you think?!