Giving birth is incredibly hard on the human body but sometimes people forget that.
Bachelor In Paradise star Tanner Tolbert watched his wife, fellow Bach alum Jade Roper Tolbert, give birth to their second child in the closet of their master bedroom just four weeks ago but may need a refresher on how hard giving birth is.
On another Bachelor Nation star’s podcast this week Tanner made some comments that suggest he doesn’t fully understand what Jade’s body just did less than a month ago and that he is pressuring her for sex (did we mention the baby is not even a month old? And was born in a closet? And that it all happened in like 75 minutes? And that she “received several stitches“?)
Speaking to Bachelor-turned-podcaster Nick Viall, Tanner said: “It is tough. I feel like I’ve begged for it. And I don’t want to feel selfish — I hate asking, I hate trying, ’cause I don’t want it to be pity sex.”
There’s a lot to unpack there, but this problem goes way beyond Tanner Tolbert, as Diana Spalding, midwife and Motherly’s Digital Education Editor and Birth Expert, explains.
“Our culture does such a disservice to postpartum women. Through subtle and not-so-subtle messaging, society has told women that their needs are not a priority, and that they should not listen to their bodies—whether its the pressure to ‘bounce back’ and lose the baby weight, or satisfying some idealized and impossible narrative about sex.”
Unfortunately, our second annual State of Motherhood survey revealed that Tanner is hardly the only person pressuring their postpartum partner for sex. Nearly a third of Millennial moms (31%) say they had sex with their partner before they felt ready to do so.
Earlier this year we asked 6,457 respondents about their postpartum sex lives and learned that for 40% of new moms it takes between six months and a year to want to have sex again. Only 11% of moms told us they were interested in having sex before six weeks postpartum.
So if Jade’s not ready, she’s not ready, and she’s hardly alone. But sadly, Tanner’s clearly not the only guy who isn’t fully appreciating what a woman’s body goes through when giving birth. (Guys, imagine running a marathon and having a wound the size of a dinner plate in an internal organ and then you’re still not quite there.)
According to Spalding, resuming a sex life after having a baby can be empowering, but it’s not going to be empowering or fun if a woman is feeling pressured to do it.
It is not fair for Tanner or any partner to pressure a postpartum woman to have sex before she is ready.
We are not here to vilify Tanner, but we are concerned by his flippant comments and we are concerned that Jade and so many millennial moms are having sex before they want to. This highlights a serious problem with postpartum education and our healthcare system.
According to Spalding, if a mother is suffering from any kind of pelvic floor dysfunction or ended up with vaginal, anal, or vulvar injuries from pregnancy and birth, having sex before she’s comfortable and without getting proper medical care first could further injure her.
Unfortunately, some moms don’t get treatment for these kinds of injuries because they may not know that they have them or that they don’t have to live this way.
“This is, unfortunately, a shortcoming of our healthcare system, as it does not provide sufficient education and support for women with these types of complications,” says Spalding, who notes that research published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology suggests about 17–36% of mothers report experiencing painful sex at six months postpartum and that only about 15% of new moms bring this concern up with their doctor.
She wants more women to bring this up to their doctors and more partners to understand that pressuring or “begging” for sex is simply not okay. It is not okay!
Spalding wants postpartum mothers to understand that they matter. Mama, you are in charge of your intimacy timeline. Your comfort matters.
Jade, you matter.
Take your time, mama. You just had a baby.