When I was pregnant, my mind couldn’t stop going back to health class. It astounded me all the things they left out. It was like our bodies were these secrets meant to be kept, which unfortunately means that so many of us are completely left in the dark.
Perhaps it was my Catholic School’s policy of abstinence is the best and only true form of birth control, but if I am being honest, not too many of the teachers really pushed this, and they were more than willing to answer any questions that may have popped up about sex and everything that goes along with it. The curriculum left a lot in the shadows.
It wasn’t until I went on mommy blogs and forums that I realized that I wasn’t the only one. There were remarks like “Your first period after giving birth will be heavier because all that blood has been stored up.” As though there is a dam in there that has remained closed, all the blood you are supposed to be shedding pooling up behind it, waiting to be released. Other things like “I thought all women could breastfeed, regardless of whether they’ve had a baby.” And “I don’t understand why women can’t just hold in their periods until they have to go to the bathroom.” Really shines a light on how our education has failed us in letting us fully understand our bodies.
There is so much about myself that has me baffled, parts of my own reproductive system that I had no clue about and still wouldn’t know if I hadn’t gotten pregnant.
Even after giving birth, if I hadn’t had a nurse who told me everything and a sister who was also a nurse there would be a lot of questions floating around in my head with no answers.
So many different things impact what can be considered normal for us. Our birth control, our hormones from breastfeeding, all of these things will make a difference to what is normal and what will become our normal after we give birth and become parents.
A lot of women think that bleeding that happens after you give birth is a regular period, and that is why they are confused at how much more they may bleed compared to what was normal for them before. It is something specific to giving birth and it is called Lochia which is the shedding of everything inside your uterus that has been used to nurture and grow your baby. It is going to be heavier, but it isn’t a regular period and it doesn’t mean that your periods following will be heavier from then on.
Our bodies stretch and rip and break, but they heal and bounce back.
It opened my eyes to the kind of parent I want to be. I want to be open and honest with my daughter when the time comes. I want to be the kind of house where she can ask us about sex and her body and not feel shame or embarrassed. I want her to understand herself, inside and out. There are too many women and men out there who are embarrassed to go to the doctors when something is wrong with their reproductive organs. So many people afraid to ask questions.
Although I have never been a shy person, I never had that openness with my mother. We would joke when I got into my teens, but I couldn’t imagine asking her a second related question, or just about my body in general.
To this day, there are parts of my own vagina I wouldn’t be able to label if you asked me. I am 28 years old. It seems like I should know anything and everything about my body at this point. The fact that I don’t, is really sad and confusing.
We can push for our schools to teach our children, but there will always be parents uncomfortable. Parents who think that knowledge about sex goes hand in hand with participating in sex. Parents who will always be uncomfortable with their children learning to be free with their bodies.
That’s fine. Everyone has their own hang ups.
However, if you are not one of these people, and even if you are, I can’t stress the importance of teaching your children about their bodies. Teach them about the bodies of the opposite sex. Sure, your son may never have to have a baby or a child, but someone they love may one day, and knowing what they are going through knowing how their body shapes and changes in this time will better help them understand, and be stronger shoulders to lean on.
Our bodies are these amazing things, and we shouldn’t be ashamed of them. We should know all there is to know about them, things that some people think are icky shouldn’t seem that way, it should be the norm because we should be talking about them as though they aren’t taboo.
I am more confident in my body after having my daughter, after seeing all that it is capable of. My body is amazing, capable of amazing things. Sure, it’s scarred, it’s worn, it’s sore more often than not, I have cellulite, and there are parts of my skin that are more flabby than tone and tight, but it’s mine. And it’s given me the most amazing gift!
All of our insecurities are there because we are told they should be, because we see what the world thinks bodies should look like and we don’t fit the mould. Beauty standards aren’t standard beautiful comes in all shapes and sizes and I feel like knowing all we can about our bodies can help build confidence in our bodies and ourselves.
Get to know your body, so you can teach your children to know theirs.