You knew I couldn’t pass this up: “Why France Pays for Postpartum Women to Re-Educate Their Vagina.”
Why, it’s an article on health care coverage that concerns firming up the pelvic floor for more, well… amour.
No, I’m not making this up. Et oui, I’m an ardent fan of All Good Things French – a great wine, a luxurious underthing, a fine perfume, a superb and irresistible man. And of course, the much-touted-of-late Parisian Parenting Lessons, as I’ve had beaucoup to say on that topic as well.
In fact, I used that opportunity to point out some of the differences in social structure between France and the U.S., notably, the aforementioned health care system which, apparently, is inclined to be supportive of the maternal sex life in a very, comment dirais-je, “hands on” capacity.
And shall we also keep in mind those reports on French women over 50 having more romantic encounters? If we as women feel better about ourselves, aren’t we more inclined to feel better about our most intimate relationships – and show it?
Make Love, Not Infidelity?
Aren’t love, parenting, health, and a healthy love life – even for mothers - all interrelated? Wouldn’t a healthy sex life between parents be good for families? So what, specifically, is this latest tidbit about?
While I first saw this news item in Time’s Healthland, it cites Claire Lundburg writing on Slate about a week ago, in a humorous recounting of her own French rééeducation of her Lady Parts. While she quips that this may be an attempt to reduce the likelihood that a new Papa would take a mistress, this amusing read offers the following:
According to Ms. Lundburg:
Rééducation périnéale gets scoffed at in American and Canadian publications as one of the most lurid examples of the indulgent French welfare state, but as far as I can tell, we do exactly nothing in the United States to help women get back into shape after giving birth.
Postpartum Love, American Style
Six-week postpartum check-ups stateside are typically brief affairs where you may or may not be advised to remember to do your Kegels… they mark the end of regular obstetric visits that began shortly after pregnancy commenced. An entire year could easily go by between the postpartum farewell and the next appointment.
Ms. Lundburg also notes that despite the embarrassment of Hoo Hoo Helping sessions – either manual or electronic stimulation of affected pelvic floor muscles – she has experienced a variety of improvements in that area, which those of us who have given birth would recognize, pursing our, well, lips… and no doubt, nodding vigorously.
As for women who undergo C-sections, apparently there are other health care options to deal with the relaxed regions that result from l’arrivée du bébé. Can anyone say subsidized sit-ups in French?
Middle Ground for the Middle Mound?
Somewhere between the American way (“Seeya! Good luck!”) and formalized firming of the French floor to encourage ample and enthusiastic amour – something ought to assist women in understanding, addressing, and redressing the broad range of physical (and emotional) changes which may drag on following childbirth.
Something other than the latest book (or web site), or a girlfriend’s recommendations (and hesitations), based on her own experience.
Sex? Are You Kidding?
After all, even a few months after the event, most women aren’t looking to swing from the chandeliers with a spouse, or swing anywhere for that matter except perhaps in a little hammock on a small island with excellent spa services.
Okay. As I haven’t conducted a scientific study, let me rephrase. Every woman I’ve ever known in my life hasn’t been interested. Not until she’s fully healed, has a bit of sleep, and feels better about her body.
Postpartum? We’re dealing with fatigue, worry, and an assortment of aches, pains and other messy little reminders that our personal terrains including our nooks and crannies are no longer exactly our own. Sex isn’t a priority, though we know it is for the men we love. What we don’t necessarily realize at the time is that once the sexual connection is disrupted, for some of us, it’s a challenge to retrieve.
And Bébé Makes Three
The standard of a final visit to the OB/GYN six weeks after giving birth? The rapid “turnover” that takes place in the hospital, sending new mothers home just two or possibly three days after pushing out the petit or the slice-and-staple of a C-section? Tossing women back into the workforce six weeks after Baby Makes Three (or Four, or However Many)?
Frankly, I think we’re so used to this handling we don’t question it – just as we’re so used to beating ourselves up over our motherly maneuvers that we no longer question that. And there are reasons for both – including rushing back to work if we have work, paying for the little Prince or Princesse, and second-guessing everything we do as parents in our harried and competitive culture.
Culture and Common Sense
And it is a harried, competitive, contradictory, and increasingly unstable culture. Our sexual mixed messages are all over the map. Family members relocate (or commute) to wherever there may be work, for however long it lasts. We rush back to jobs (and work from home before we’re theoretically “allowed” to), so we don’t lose our jobs. We’re supposed to do it all, be it all, and look great in the process!
And as for pregnancy, if you believe that protections put in place decades ago assure you your position, think again. Also in Healthland, this article concerning pregnancy in the workplace spotlights the rise in pregnancy discrimination cases by some 35% in the past 10 years.
I can’t help but get the feeling at times that we’re walking backwards, blindly, a woman’s body still the social and political battlefield of men. (Or is that only an impression due to the GOP debates?)
French Attitudes on Health, Sex, Respect
I openly fess up to being an unabashed admirer of much in French culture – not everything mind you; no country is without its issues. But as I’ve said before, we could take a lesson from what other countries do well – from both personal and political standpoints.
The French health care system isn’t perfect, but it is less expensive, more accessible, and extends beyond what Americans see as typical options (including the French pharmacy system). And treating sexual relationships between adults like adults is part of the package.
And isn’t it common sense that healthy women whose bodies receive the respect and care they deserve are more likely to contribute in all the ways that are important? As engaged partners and parents, as well as in the workforce?